It's no secret the holidays are a time for giving. National nonprofits reported donations totaling more than $274 million from this year's Giving Tuesday alone and they stand to collect as much as 1/3 of their annual donations during the last few weeks of the year.
But for brands who want to align their mission with social good, philanthropy can't start and stop with holiday giving. Instead, it must become a year-round initiative, one that is core to their business.
The benefits of this approach are plentiful. A philanthropic mission can help you motivate employees, support your community, engage clients and prospects and raise your brand profile—all while letting you carry out your values, day to day.
Philanthropic efforts should be core to your brand—that requires some deep, strategic thinking. But taking steps to be more charitable as a business doesn't have to be hard. Here are three initiatives to get you started:
1. Start a VTO Program
Volunteer time off (or VTO) is a growing HR trend, born from the pro bono work common at many professional service companies, particularly law firms. Today, about 1 in 5 companies across industries give their employees the opportunity to get paid to volunteer—usually around 8 hours annually.
VTO can help attract and retain talented employees who care about working with purpose. It also lets employees steer the company's charitable efforts.
Encourage your team to share their favorite charitable experiences, both through social media and in the workplace, and see what common causes connect you. It's a way to both recognize individuals and bring teams together.
2. Create a Visible Culture of Giving
Just like ping pong tables and free snacks are synonymous with start-up culture, permanent reminders of your charitable efforts need to be on display in your work environment.
Collection drives for items like food and clothes (both of which are needed all year round) can help keep your staff motivated and engaged. You can choose a few different organizations to support throughout the year, and rotate through local and national causes.
Even practicing (and promoting) random acts of kindness can keep the holiday-giving spirit alive. Publicly thank employees for their contribution—large and small—and encourage them to do the same across your organization. When your employees feel supported, they'll make it a point to support others.
Collection boxes are a common occurrence at the JConnelly office. They offer a low-pressure way for employees at every level to contribute to philanthropic efforts that support a variety of causes.
3. Host a Charitable Event
In recent years at JConnelly, we've built bicycles, decorated duffel bags for foster kids, hosted a hurricane relief fundraiser, run a 5k for local schools and coordinated a bunch of other staff-wide events.
While the causes are diverse, bringing people together in new environments delivers a few consistent rewards. For one, it encourages teamwork and can help you uncover your staff's secret talents.
Time, effort, goods and visibility are often more valuable to non-profits than money alone, so get your team in one place and get hands on! You can invite other members of your community to join you and use your existing brand visibility to promote worthy causes.
Heads down and hard at work, teams get a break from their daily tasks while getting to support a great cause.
The holiday season is a great time to jump start your charitable initiatives. But you don't have to stop giving when the calendar turns to a new year. What are some of the ways you keep the giving spirit alive all year long?