The holiday season is upon us! Is it just me, or does the holiday season seem to bring a unique atmosphere of cheer and giving in our personal lives and even in our professional endeavors?
Throughout the year, it is so easy to get caught up in the routine chaos of the hectic day-to-day—rushing from meeting to meeting and focusing solely on projections and trajectories. Money makes the world go ‘round. And the goal of any for-profit venture is to exceed current customers’ expectations, find new customers, and continue to innovate and increase within the category.
However, at this time of year, life seems to slow down a just a bit and by and large we are surrounded by a palpable attitude of goodwill. You might think to yourself, is she talking about Santa’s helpers in the mall and the Salvation Army volunteers ringing bells outside grocery stores? How does this atmosphere apply to me in the office? And is there a benefit to taking part in it?
Social responsibility is key aspect of most successful (and in my opinion, respectable) organizations. The holiday season is the perfect time of year for companies to think about the difference they can make in their communities and the world as a whole. In my experience, its an incredibly positive experience to take a step back as an organization and look outward at our influence on those around us. With corporate social responsibility, we can look beyond on just dollars and data for our impact as employees, and look toward something larger.
There are many benefits of engaging in social good, regardless of what product your company sells or what service you provide. In this post I’ll share just a few.
Benefitting the Community Benefits You
Having a reputation built on charitable giving is one of the best marketing campaigns out there. Just because it may seem a little grassroots doesn’t mean it won’t yield great results! By donating your time and resources to the community you’re a part of, you are associating your company’s brand with a positive influence and thus increasing satisfaction and retention with all those you come in contact with. Bridging the gap between businesses and community is a worthwhile endeavor for any company—you can’t afford to skip out on this aspect of your company’s culture.
Enhance Your Company’s Image
Successful companies realize that having their name respected locally and globally is a huge piece of what separates them from their competitors.
Public relations is obviously a key piece of any organization and the opportunity to build a reputation is right in your own backyard. All the cool companies are doing it, seriously. Think Facebook’s initiatives to connect the world by furthering the globalization of the internet and Tesla and Elon Musk’s desire to bring solar energy to every facet of our society. These are just two of many great examples of strong business that have benefitted from contributing a cause and getting involved.
*Note: the cause your company chooses to support doesn’t have to be nearly as large scale as these examples to be effective. There are countless ways to get involved in and support your community, all of which will surely boost your company’s image.
Elevate Employee and Client Pride
Most employees want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than their paycheck. Giving these men and women a sense of satisfaction and pride in working for your company is not only paramount for building morale, but also for creating an entire culture established on positive principles. Building an image of generosity fuels a pride that directly affects teamwork and collaboration, which leads to increased productivity.
Similarly, clients also want to be a part of something that doesn’t just look good but feels good too. When clients know they are supporting a company that gives back to the community and has a noted concern for contributing to something larger than the “corporate machine”— it goes a long way.
Where to Begin
Want to give back to your community, but not sure where to start? It’s easier than you might think.
There are many ways to make a difference locally, all you have to do is narrow it down to what will resonate most with your team. Ask around and find out what employees are passionate about. Take the time to gather the interests of your team and learn about why certain causes resonate with them. Partnering with organizations that your team can connect with will ensure that this effort feels genuine.
In addition to gathering the input of your employees, reach out to your local community leaders and educate yourself on what is going on and what your community needs. After all, no one is better educated on the community than the community itself. Gathering this information through meaningful interaction and constructive dialogue will inevitably build important relationships that will make this process of giving easier and more enriching year after year.
Once you’ve established what cause you’ll be supporting, start thinking about what you can contribute. Doing a fundraiser for a local nonprofit or donating your service/product for a group in need is a fantastic way to give of money and resources. Also, keep in mind that money isn’t the only thing you can offer. Time is just as valuable for many causes. Hosting a food drive, organizing a clean up for a local park, or throwing an event like Relay For Life is equally as helpful as making a cash contribution. Whatever your company has the means to give, be it money or manpower, you can find a cause that will greatly benefit from it.
What We Are Doing at EverString
To help give you some ideas, I can speak to some of the successes we’ve seen from within our own organization.
One of our favorite customs that helps define our culture of giving back happens when new hires join the team. Their first day on board, we ask them to select a nonprofit of their choice so EverString can make a donation in their name! This allows the new team member to know that we, as an organization, care about her while also fostering an attitude of giving. These new employees then have a comfortable platform to share their passions and interests with the rest of our team and get to know one another better.
For example, our most recent hire Christine Hayden selected the Alzheimer’s Association as the cause for our company to support in her name. This was in honor of her grandfather. It just so happened that the day we asked her to name the organization she wanted to donate to, it was the anniversary of his passing. This is just one example of how we want to get to know our team and share their passions. We truly believe our team is the sum of its parts—
what is important to them is important to us.
It doesn’t stop there. “Mustache Movember” or “No Shave November” has become an amazing month-long awareness campaign for men’s health every year. We, at EverString, wanted to support this cause by not only raising money for the Movember Foundation but by generating participation in this important and creative campaign. This year, to kick off the month of November we brought professional barbers into the office to give free shaves and then passed out pins for everyone to wear that read: Ask me about my mo. This is our second year participating in the campaign and EverString further encouraged support by offering to match however much the team raises for the Movember Foundation.
Family Giving Tree is another great way we offer employees to celebrate the holiday season and give back to those less fortunate. We decorated a holiday tree and on December 1st we hung ornaments that contain the name and age of a child in need with their special wish. Anyone can choose any ornament they like from the tree and then return later with a gift to place under the tree. By mid-December, we have employee volunteers gather all the gifts we have collected under the office tree and deliver the to the Family Giving Tree donation center. These gifts are then given to the children whose wish was written on the ornament who otherwise would not have had anything. This is a touching reminder that we are so fortunate and thus have a responsibility to help those who are in need. Having a spirit of gratitude and humility in giving back allows us to remember that service is a core part of our EverString values.
Giving happens inside and outside of the office. Brave the Bay was an event we just participated in last weekend that allowed our team to make meaningful connections while supporting a great cause. The event took place on Saturday, December 3rd at Aquatic Park in San Francisco, where a team of six EverString employees competed against the San Francisco Police Department to pull an iconic cable car 200 feet in the fastest possible time. This event was a lot of fun for the team while raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. EverString signed up for this event when we learned that one of our team members was a past recipient of a wish from this incredible organization when he was a child and that this cause is very near and dear to his heart.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter what you do as long as it is meaningful to you and your team. Giving to others will undoubtedly bring members of your company closer together and allow them to see that the company they work for has a vision much broader than the day-to-day grind. Giving back to the community is a great way to improve all aspects of your company, and the end of the year provides the perfect opportunity to do it. Come together, pick a passion and make a difference!