If you really want to integrate a culture of generosity into the DNA of your business, consider a strategic half day of service to a local non-profit. I know the idea of shutting down work for a few hours on a Friday seems like a stretch but hear me out…if planned appropriately and executed well, it can be a game changer for your team. The idea is simple: plan a few hours when your team can volunteer their time to a local non-profit. Creating a culture of giving within a business is a delicate dance that must be done consistently and intentionally. It won’t happen overnight, but with the right strategy, it can have real benefits and fiscal savings for your company. (Check out The Biggest Overlooked Benefit of Corporate Giving for more on that)
One of the best ways to shift corporate giving from “something the boss does” to “something we do” is to get the employees connected to the organizations the business is supporting, and I mean face to face. According to a Deloitte survey, 70% of employees believe that volunteer activities organized by their employers are more successful in boosting employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours. At mBridge, we take a multi-pronged approach: bringing in non-profit directors, sharing stories of individuals impacted, and getting employees in the trenches of the work that’s being done. When staff can see firsthand the people impacted by the non-profit, it brings new meaning when they hear of the company’s giving to this organization; they’ve met the people and been part of the work that is impacting individual’s lives.
Let me paint the picture for you of what this could look like: on a Friday, employees leave the office at 11:30 and drive down to a local non-profit. You feed them lunch, give them an [insert company] gives back t-shirt, and take some time to learn about the organization you’ll be volunteering with that day. Then you all launch into a meaningful project that will be a blessing to that organization and the people they serve. Employees bond over the good work they’re doing, they learn about a great organization in their community, the non-profit gets to have some much-needed work done, and you have a great PR opportunity to utilize as you see fit.
This won’t instantly instill a giving culture into your business. As we all know, culture takes time and intentionality to cultivate. But it can be a large step in the right direction. Imagine if this becomes an annual event for your business. How could having this on the company calendar each year communicate what the company values to your staff?
Now for a few practical suggestions for those bold enough to give this a try:
1) Choose the right charity – If you’re donating a half day to work with a non-profit, make sure it’s a good fit for your company. Avoid organizations that would be controversial for your team.
2) Double check the date – nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling forced to take a half day to volunteer while they have piles of tasks to get done sitting at their desk waiting for them. While you’ll never pick a perfect day for everyone, try and avoid your company’s busiest season.
3) Pick a good project – make sure the work your team will be doing is something they can handle and is also something that you can complete in a few hours. Leaving an unfinished project can feel like you failed at your task. Plus, having a day where your team is done before normal quitting time feels like a bonus.
4) Get educated before you execute – make sure the team can meet some of the staff at the non-profit and can hear the story of how they were founded, the people they serve, and the lives that are impacted. This makes the work that is to follow much more meaningful.
5) The boss needs to get busy – a very crucial step in making the half day a success is making sure those in leadership participate. This isn’t something just for the lower-level employees but is beneath those in upper management. If you truly value serving the community, prove it. Jump in with your team. Get your hands dirty alongside them.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you’re looking for more ideas or guidance in setting up a company-wide giveback day. We’d love to help you make the day a success! See an example of what we did with Transblue: Give Back Day Video
Director of Operations