“Together, we can make a difference!”
“Through your efforts, a life will be changed!”
“It’s up to us to make an impact!”
These exclamations are often heard during philanthropic teambuilding activities. They are meant to evoke an emotional response and inspire employees. But often employees might not fully understand the impact the company is trying to make or whose life you’ll be changing. They might even have a nagging feeling about the true goal and purpose of the activity. Was leadership being sincere or was this just a way to check the philanthropy box? What difference have we actually made?
By focusing on selecting the right cause and then crafting clear communication to every team member explaining the impact your give back event will have, you’ll avoid this issue and ensure everyone feels great about your work to give back to the community.
These three steps can help you:
Gather Data – Poll your attendees on causes they care about (eg. Hunger, Education, Civil Rights, etc.) Allow your employees to suggest their options if they don’t see it represented. Dialogue is important, so be sure to invite and encourage conversation around the feedback.
Select A Cause – Compare the info your employees submitted with your corporate causes to find a cause that best resonates with your employees and the company. Some examples of this taking shape include a bank taking time to educate students on financial literacy, or a catering group donating food items to a local food pantry. However, be careful of being too narrow-minded with your industry and your impact. Just because you deal in food distribution doesn’t mean you can’t support STEAM education initiatives. It all starts with the desire to make a difference, and leveraging that intention.
Clearly Communicate the Goals to your Team – Be clear and decisive when announcing which cause you’ve chosen. An example of this may follow along the lines of “We’ve polled our community to find out what causes are dearest to you and also looked at causes that are important to our business. This shows that you’ve listened and taken their feedback into account, while also unifying your company’s corporate ideology with your employee’s desire to make a difference.
For example, “Our company has been providing food to the greater Miami community for the past 3 decades. Ensuring people are fed is our business model, but we understand that food insecurity rears its ugly head in communities of all shapes and sizes. Instead of despairing at the sadness food insecurity brings, we’ve decided to take steps in supporting those that fight against it. We selected this cause because we know that our employees are committed to that cause as well. Your presence here, and your belief in what we do, fuels all of our desires to give back. We will take advantage of this time together to help the community in which we all live and work. Let’s help who we can today, tomorrow, and every day that we can. Today we will donate 5,000 canned food items to our local food bank, and we invite all of you to be part of future conversations on how we impact our community.”
In this example, they’ve identified the company’s connection to food insecurity, as well as how the employees can help to give back. They’ve established a concrete number that will be contributed, while acknowledging this is not a one-time occurrence. Combining all these aspects creates a compelling narrative that the team isn’t confined by cubicle walls, rather it extends to our community outside company grounds. Doing this, while leaving the conversation open for future opportunities, will encourage employees to feel more involved, and to feel reassured that they are being listened to. All of these aspects help to address why the specific cause was chosen and how it relates to the employees, the company, and the greater community at large.
When following the steps above, employees will feed off the communal energy of giving back, and collectively they’ll feel great about their company and how it values giving back to the community. Clearly communicating this effort ensures the team is aligned and ready to make an impact!