Part of our job as HR professionals is to make sure that employees feel they are part of an organization that’s interested in more than just the bottom line: an organization that gives back. They want to feel that together they’re doing something good for their communities, their cities, and the world. Keeping them engaged through giving back can be a way to help them fulfill their desire to serve, while also tightening the bonds of community within the company.
Giving back can also help your company build trust and loyalty within the local areas you serve. This trust and loyalty can encourage people in those communities to become future clients and customers. It’s a great way to help others and also help your business.
Here are six tips on how to engage your community by giving back.
Support a charity. One of the best ways of giving back to the community is by making charitable contributions to a non-profit organization. Look for organizations that have a substantial impact in your community and that relate to your company’s industry. For example, if your company is an architecture firm, consider supporting an organization that builds homes for people in need, like Habitat for Humanity.
You can also directly engage your employees by encouraging them to volunteer at charitable organizations. Coordinate a weekly, biweekly, or monthly volunteering opportunity, either in the evening or on the weekend so more employees can participate. Or perhaps, less frequently, offer opportunities to volunteer during regular office hours. Look into charities that provide food or clothing for the needy and are usually in need of help from volunteers.
Run fundraising events. Another direct way of helping your community is by conducting fundraising events for a specific cause, like raising money for a local family that just lost their home in a fire or a school that was damaged by a flood. The connection to the local community will also drive employees to more actively participate, since they may personally know the people affected.
Also consider having collection drives, like food drives during Thanksgiving, toy drives for the holidays or school supply drive at the start of a new school year. Set a goal for the company to encourage employees to participate, and set separate goals for each department to drum up a little friendly competition. Once the items are collected, employees can further participate by delivering them to the organization or even volunteering to hand them out.
Sponsor a sports team. Sports naturally bring people together, so consider sponsoring a local sports team. Whether it’s a little league team, a high school football team, or an adult team, your company can support local athletes and provide an opportunity for people to see your commitment.
Another option would be to start your own league—like an adult softball or a kids’ soccer league—and encourage your employees and their families and friends to participate. You can cover the cost of using the fields, the uniforms, and even provide snacks during the game. It will give your employees an opportunity to bond outside of the office and make new connections.
Host community gatherings. Another way to engage with the local community is by hosting their meetings and gatherings. Since renting a space for meetings can get expensive, your company could help a local organization save money by offering the space for free. This gives you an opportunity to connect with group members and hopefully be the first in mind when they need the services or products you offer.
You could also consider starting your own community group relating to your company’s industry—a PR agency could form a young PR networking group. Or you could start a group that relates specifically to your employees, like a Latina professionals group. Set up the group, get your employees involved, and then invite others in your community to join and participate.
Create a scholarship. Your company can also support local students by creating a scholarship fund. Offering scholarships for academic achievement or community service is a great way to connect with young people and their parents alike. You can set up a scholarship for students seeking to study something related to your industry, like law or accounting. Or you could set up a scholarship recognizing students who are making a difference in the community. The best part is you don’t need to commit a lot of money to make a difference—even a few hundred dollars can help a student pay for books and school supplies.
Offer free expertise. Whatever your industry and whatever your company specializes in, remember that you are the local experts in your field. Consider offering some free advice as a way to give back and engage with your community. This can also be a way to get your employees to work together on a project, thinking of ways to make the company become more known as an expert and helping people.
You could host Q&A sessions on your local radio station, asking people to call in with their questions. You could also present a weekly segment on a local television station to give tips on different subjects relating to your company, like health, finance, or DIY projects. You could even host events at your own company or business and promote them to the local community as opportunities to learn and get advice.
There are many ways that your employees can engage with the community by giving back. Whatever approach you choose, make sure it’s fun and innovative so that people will be excited to be a part of it. Your employees will feel good about working for a company that gives back, and this can lead to an uptick in workplace morale and productivity. People will see that you care about the community and will potentially reward your good work by giving you their business. It’s a real win-win.