Social responsibility has become more important for organizations as both employees and the public at large has come to expect it. According to a survey conducted by Cone Communications, 87 percent of consumers are willing to buy products from companies that give back to a good cause, while 76 percent will actually refuse to do business with those that don't.
Practicing social responsibility does not end with attracting customers. Studies show that in order to recruit and retain good talent, your organization has to demonstrate involvement in the community. For example, Glassdoor found that 75 percent of job hunters expect prospective employers to support charities through volunteer activities or donations. And once hired, employees who work for socially responsible organizations tend to be happier and more engaged.
Although the ripples of giving can reach many people inside and outside of your company, imbibing the culture of social responsibility at the workplace is not difficult to implement. The following are 10 engaging ways in which your organization can help the community this year and continue to draw benefits beyond.
1. Set Out a Donation Jar. Setting up donation jars in high-traffic areas of the office is a simple, yet impactful way to give back. Work with your team to choose a charity to give the money to and set up jars for everyone to donate whenever they want. In addition, placing a donation jar in the reception area with an explanation of why you're raising money will also inspire the people you do business with to give back.
2. Encourage Volunteerism. Offering paid days off to workers so that they spend time helping their favorite charities can create an environment of volunteerism within your company -- as well as enhance the morale among workers. Plan to give your employees a certain number of hours for community involvement on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
3. Organize a Team Event. Planning a volunteer event for your company is a great way to help the community and employees come together as a team. Have your workers vote on which organization they want to help most and plan a day for everyone to volunteer at that group.
4. Donate Expertise. While employees enjoy activities like volunteering for a soup kitchen, sharing their expertise for a good cause helps them to build their skills and confidence as well as partake in the joy of giving back. For example, a graphic designer on your team can design fundraiser brochures for a non-profit organization or a help desk employee can provide hands-on computer training to a charity that may not have the resources to employ an on-site IT professional.
5. Sponsor a Charity Event. Sponsoring a charity event can help raise money for a good cause and also help your organization by bringing it into the midst of your critical stakeholders -- the community. In addition to donating money and products to the event, you can also have your employees volunteer to maximize your organization's presence during the fundraiser.
6. Donate Office Space. Oftentimes, nonprofit organizations have neither the office space for meetings and events nor the funds to rent it. An easy way to support the work of charities in your area is to donate office space at designated hours.
7. Holiday Drive. Whether you want to give canned goods to your local food bank or clothes to the Salvation Army, you can set up a holiday drive within your organization. Encourage your workers to bring in items for donation for a specific period; and then celebrate as a team when it is time to gift them to the charity. A group bearing gifts and visiting the charity of choice can double as a great team building event.
8. Sponsor a Youth Sport's Team. Often, employees with families have children who participate in youth sports. Sponsoring a team will not only help fund the sport, but also make your employees feel good about working for a company willing to embrace children's causes.
9. Support Small Businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, almost 50 percent of the private workforce is made up of small business employees -- so when you support local businesses, you support the livelihoods of a large cross-section of people across your community. Whenever possible, arrange to have your organization utilize the products and services of small businesses -- and be sure to spread the word about the work they do.
10. Take the Lead. Creating a culture of giving starts with you. Employees will follow the lead of management, so it's important to regularly engage in charitable activities outside of the office and then share those experiences with your team.
No matter how you choose to give back, you want to make sure that you plan ahead -- and do what you can to make it easy for your employees to participate. For example, if you engage Verified Volunteers to get all your employees verified, you receive volunteer screening services for nonprofits and volunteer programs across the country. It can facilitate the process of signing up to volunteer for organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the National Alliance for Youth Sports and a host of others.
Katie Zwetzig is executive director of Verified Volunteers, which provides volunteer screening and background checks for nonprofits and service organizations and helps mobilize vetted volunteers.