As the holidays approach, you can almost feel the energy in the air as celebrations with loved ones are planned shopping lists are created. Though we often call this “the most wonderful time of the year,” sadly, for many in our community, it is not. To truly help make the season bright, many companies are looking for ways to incorporate giving into their offices this time of year.
For those whose businesses make giving back paramount to their culture, here are some key tips to re-energize your office and refocus your efforts on gratitude and giving.
• Help a neighbor. While there are numerous ways your company can help those in need, the best place to start is your own backyard. Before selecting what projects your company will participate in, take a moment to assess how your efforts can be impactful to those in your nearby communities. For instance, you can adopt a Title I elementary school near your office and run a “holiday drive,” with employees purchasing gifts and food for needy families. It is so powerful to be able to connect with those families and touch the lives of those in need right in your own backyard. You will likely find that your office will want to engage on a deeper level when the impact hits so close to home.
• Join forces. Rather than trying to tackle building a community garden alone or delivering blankets to the homeless one at a time, think bigger — if there is a company you normally work with or even just share a building with, give them a ring and see if they would be interested in joining the fun. You will be surprised how eager most companies are to give back.
• Giving options. When brainstorming on what your company’s holiday project will be, don’t be afraid to get creative and remember that there are many levels of giving. Some people love hands-on and would really dig in if the office volunteered at Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest. Others, however, may not have the time or ability to be present at such an event. To ensure you get maximum participation, give your employees options. For example, with a holiday drive, have some people love to shop, while others would rather wrap and or put on their Santa hats and deliver the goodies to families. There truly is a way for everyone to give back.
• Deck the halls. We all get buried in our day-to-day lives, and during the holiday season, our to-do lists expand endlessly. To ensure that your bicycle drive is fresh on everyone’s mind or that your evening plan to serve meals at the nearby shelter stays on the calendar, create a visual in the office that grabs everyone’s attention and acts as a constant reminder. It might take a fourth trip to the coffee pot for that bulletin board in the kitchen wrapped like a present and giving tree with twinkle lights to catch their eye. If this doesn’t work — or if you need an extra push to reach that goal — donuts, cookies and candy often do the trick.
• Give back and get feedback. When you have completed your rounds bringing holiday cheer to the kids at Child Haven or shipped off the last bundle of holiday care packages to deployed troops, be sure to show those who participated how impactful they were. You may feel like the paparazzi at the time, but you will be grateful for capturing great memories of your office experience. These photos are useful when sending out your emails or writing your thank-you letters — after all, a picture tells a thousand words. Last but not least, don’t forget to ask your team members for some feedback on their experience. This can be done by an anonymous comment jar or at the pizza party you throw as an extra thank-you.
Whether you follow the above tips or simply follow your heart, there is no wrong way to give back this holiday season.
Emily Ellis is senior associate and chairwoman of the Las Vegas Karma Committee, and Cindy Dreibelbis is a community impact marketing director at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.