December 6, 2016

Giving Back: How Companies Can Do Good This Season

santa-claus-christmas-beard-celebration-41963.jpegBecause holiday cheer should include more than a company party. 

Holidays at the office often means some kind of corporate giving, whether it's matching monetary gifts, a volunteer activity, or a company-wide donation drive. Even though it's already December, it's not too late to organize a fundraiser or donation drive for a worthy cause this holiday season—or if your company really wants to give back, to invest time and resources into a partnership to benefit a social organization. 

Donation Drives

Leading a donation drive is an easy way to give back—and it's something we've done regularly at Persio. At Thanksgiving, we led a drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, collecting canned goods and other non-perishable items. Our team has held similar events for The Night Ministry, a Chicago organization that supports the homeless, particularly homeless youth, and we're currently collecting toys and gift cards for Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

Pro Tip: If your company wants to conduct a drive on its own, rather than as part of a greater initiative like a city-wide food drive, check in with the organization you want to support first—for example, Lurie Children's Hospital has a wishlist and specific directions on how to drop off donations. Make sure your donation drive is helping the organization meet its needs. Also, for holiday programs, organizations may have a deadline to receive items and you'll want to make sure you can collect and deliver food and gifts within that time period. 

Take It Further: Select an organization each month, choose an internal point person to send reminders and collect items, and keep the donations going year-round. 

Adopt a Family or Classroom or Answer a Letter from Santa

If you want a donation that's a little more personal, your company could find a family or classroom to adopt—in Chicago, the Heartland Alliance, an anti-poverty organization, matches donors to families and individuals and gives them a wish list and a budget for holiday purchases. The U.S. Post Office's Operation Santa does something similar, matching companies and individuals to a letter to Santa from a needy child. Want something a little different? DonorsChoose.org connects donors with schools across the United States to fund special classroom projects in public schools. Donors can browse by grade level, project type, and location. Find a classroom near you and make a donation. 

Pro Tip: Check the program deadlines to make sure your staff can complete any applications to participate, buy gifts, and deliver them in time. Some organizations may have a limited number of families to adopt, so be prepared for a program to be full. 

Take It Further: Depending on the partner, see if there's a volunteer or mentoring program that your company can participate in to help support struggling families or classrooms each month. 

Rethink the Holiday Party

Office holiday parties are often fun, and they can be an opportunity for giving back by adding a service element to your annual soiree. Consider these options: 

  • Schedule a Volunteer Event Before Cocktail Hour. Partner with another organization for a volunteer activity before the office party—help distribute gifts through an organization like Little Brothers, serve dinner at a homeless or women's shelter, or take a shift at a food pantry. Organizations like Chicago Cares can help your company find a good fit for your team. 
  • Host an Event for An Organization. Expand your holiday party to include some friends! Host a party at a senior center or for an organization like Boys & Girls Club, with members joining your company for food and fun. Contact an organization that would make sense to include, and as they say, the more the merrier!
  • Buy a Table at an Event. Plenty of charities host galas this time a year—instead of renting out a restaurant or a private room, consider buying a table at a gala or tickets to a charity event. Staff can enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment with the added bonus of a worthy organization getting a percentage of your proceeds.

Pro Tip: If this seems like too much, consider adding something like a Giving Tree to your event. Or, some restaurants will partner with an organization to give a percentage of its proceeds from an event to support a charity. When you're booking your holiday event, see if the venue would be willing to donate 5% of its proceeds to an organization your company supports. 

Take It Further: Shelters, food pantries, schools, and senior centers need volunteers year-round. Create a monthly volunteer opportunity with one of these organizations to keep the relationship going past the holiday season.

What events has your company planned to give back during the holidays? Let us know!