A few months ago my fellow blogger, Delora Newton, wrote about how community service makes business sense. Since we are in the “season of giving” I thought now would be a good time to revisit this topic, offer a few examples of community giving, and hopefully encourage businesses of all sizes to give back this holiday season.
Why is giving back important?
1. Good for the community
I think we all know that giving back helps strengthen communities. But, did you know the nonprofit sector plays a large role in local economies? According to protectgiving.org nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion every year in the form of jobs and services and account for more than five percent of the GDP. One in 10 U.S. workers are employed by the nonprofit sector, which provides 13.7 million jobs. Employees of nonprofit organizations receive roughly nine percent of wages paid in the U.S., and the nonprofit sector paid $587.7 billion in wages and benefits.
2. Good for employees
Second, research has shown that giving can be good for your health. According to a Corporation for National and Community Service report, “Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”
3. Good for business
According to the website volunteermatch.org, which offers a variety of online services to support community of nonprofits, volunteers, and business leaders committed to civic engagement, giving back provides businesses with several advantages. Some of them include:
- Builds brand awareness and affinity
- Strengthens trust and loyalty among consumers
- Enhances corporate image and reputation
- Improves employee retention
- Increases employee productivity and loyalty
- Provides an effective vehicle to reach strategic goals
How can you give back?
Here are some examples of philanthropic activities TDS, its sister companies, and employees have been taking part in this holiday season. Now, not all of these organizations may have a presence in your area. But, there are probably similar organizations near you. I’m hoping you can at least draw some inspiration from this list.
- Porchlight Angels
Earlier this month TDS employees in Madison, Wis. donated gifts and food to nearly 40 families and individuals to ensure they have a happy holiday. It’s the fourth year employees volunteered to be Porchlight Angels. Porchlight provides emergency shelter, food, employment services, counseling, and affordable transitional and permanent housing to homeless people in the Dane County area. Porchlight focuses on providing a helping hand — not a handout.
- Secret Santa
Employees at our sister company, VISI Incorporated, located in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. area, held a Secret Santa gift exchange with a twist! Employees draw names and purchase a toy based on what they think the recipient would have liked as a child. When the gifts are exchanged, employees share why they believe the recipient would have wanted the toy. All the toys are then donated to Toys for Tots.
- Toys and much, much more!
Employees at our sister company OneNeck IT Services Corporation help several local homeless shelters in Arizona. They hold a toy drive for UMOM New Day Centers and they also collect blankets, coats, and food for the Phoenix Rescue Mission and Family Promise AZ.
- Second Harvest Foodbank
TDS employees have been stuffing donation bins with food for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin in the Madison area. So far several barrels have already been filled, sorted and picked up by Second Harvest.
We are not just donating food to Second Harvest. For the sixth year in a row TDS employees have selected Second Harvest as their “Charity of Choice.” So instead of a holiday party we’ll be donating $7,000 dollars to the hunger relief organization.
Not only does giving benefit the community and your employees but, it can impact your business in a positive way. I know you may be wondering what your small business can do to have an impact? I really don’t think you need to do a lot. You just need to do something. In my time as a reporter I heard more than a few nonprofit executives say, “Every little bit helps.” It may sound cliché but, for them it is very true.