As we rush around completing errands, shopping and preparing for travel over the holidays, it becomes easy to forget the importance of the spirit of giving. While this season can bring stress and pressure, it is also a great time for you and your employees to take a little time to remember the importance of giving to others. Below are eight ideas for your team to celebrate the season of giving through the holidays (and beyond):
1. Share your passions – Your employees and team members are likely involved in and passionate about a number of wonderful causes. Get a sense of where your staff likes to spend their time by asking everyone to submit names of organizations or programs they volunteer for or support in other ways. Gather all these responses together to potentially identify overlaps and a natural inclination towards a certain cause or need. Rallying the troops to help others is much easier if you are building upon an established base.
2. Think local – You likely heard about “Small Business Saturday” this Thanksgiving weekend, encouraging shoppers to spend their money at locally based businesses. The same holds true for charitable efforts. While there are many wonderful national organizations to support, consider searching out a locally-based program where your impact may be the greatest.
3. Consider a matching program – Although this may not be possible for all employers, for those that are able, a holiday matching program can be a wonderful incentive and engagement opportunity with your team. Consider offering a match of up to 100% (up to a certain cap) of an employee’s donation to the charity of their choice by December 31 – Not only will you be supporting that employee’s effort of charitable giving, you will also be increasing your tax deductions before the end of the calendar year.
4. Celebrate all efforts – Event the smallest gesture can have a large impact. Whenever you hear about one of your employees doing good during this season, be sure to share that news internally (and externally where appropriate). Consider posting photos or videos from volunteer events to your social media channels; if you produce an internal newsletter or run an intranet, dedicate space for snippets and stories about positive efforts from all members of the team.
5. Look within your industry – Each unique niche market and industry traditionally faces its own set of needs and issues. In addition to looking at local charitable opportunities, identify ways to support your industry or your clients’ industries through monetary or volunteering support. For example, Big Table is a 501c3 with operations in several markets, providing much-needed support and services for hospitality and restaurant workers in crisis. Supporting the organizations that serve your industry creates an overall win-win for all involved.
6. Volunteer as a group – Participating as a group in a positive community activity is a great team building activity (no matter the season!). To encourage the spirit of giving, encourage your team to investigate and sign up for group activities, such as taking a shift running food distribution at a food bank or staffing stations at a community holiday festival. Working together creates an empowering sense of togetherness that will last beyond the holidays. Don’t forget to lead by example! Whatever you team decides to do, be sure to be part of it.
7. Encourage individual volunteering as well – If you are looking for alternatives or additions to year-end financial bonuses, considering offering employees bonus time off for a charitable activity of their choice. Many organizations may need help during traditional work hours and the ability for your staff to go and support the organizations they care about is an additional morale boost.
8. Discuss a plan for year-round giving back – Need knows no season. While people are more inclined to give during the holidays, charitable organizations need help all year round. Talk with your employees about ideas to intersperse the spirit of the season throughout the year — Ideas include things like a summertime food drive, a Valentine’s Day blood drive at your facility, a back to school backpack drive and more — The sky’s the limit!