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5 Ways to Forge a Charitable Work Culture

Nikki Carlson March 3, 2020

Cultural change is hard. And if you want to create a charitable culture at work? It’s even harder. Your employees are busy and giving back might not be the first thing on their minds (or your mind, for that matter).

But giving back isn’t just the right thing to do. It has tremendous benefits for your business, like:

  • bonding your employees
  • giving your team a sense of purpose
  • boosting your company’s image as a brand that gives back
  • reduce workplace stress

Don’t you want engaged, motivated employees and a shining reputation in the community? Of course you do! That’s why leaders need to lead the charge and create a culture of giving back. Follow these five tips to make giving back second-nature at your business.

1.   Don’t make it mandatory.

The only thing worse than “mandatory fun” is “mandatory volunteering.” If you force employees to use their Saturday picking up trash on the side of the road, they aren’t going to be happy. If anything, they’ll feel demoralized.

Don’t approach give-back culture as a mandate. It should be something that’s entirely optional, with zero penalties for those who don’t participate. If anything, you should frame this as, “Here’s a fun treat for you,” instead of, “I demand you to do this so we look good.”

If you let employees choose to be a part of the culture, they’ll be more eager to pitch in. In fact, volunteering can even make your employees happier at work and in their home lives — provided they have a choice in the matter. Consent is always key.

2.   Tap into your team’s passion.

Giving back is more fun when you give to a cause you’re passionate about. To rally your employees around a cause that motivates them, see what they’re passionate about.

Do employees already donate or volunteer with a charity? Do they have an affinity to a certain charity?

If you’re not sure, look at your team’s hobbies and passions outside of work. If Susie likes to do DIY projects on the weekends, she might enjoy an event with Habitat for Humanity. If Rob loves singing show tunes, he might like caroling at the retirement home.

Instead of handing your team a charity and saying, “This is what we’re doing,” let them have a say. This is the key to choosing a charitable partner that motivates your team.

3.   Make it a team-bonding experience.

Work is a lot more fun when you enjoy your coworkers. You don’t have to make your team best friends or anything, but approach giving back as a bonding experience.

For example, my company ChicExecs did a lot of give-back events in December. For every new client we got in 2019, we planted a tree through Plant With Purpose. Our team also sorted toys for a local charity toy drive.

The point is to give back as a group. Choose tasks that empower your team to engage with each other outside of the office walls.

4.   Tie giving back to your business objectives.

Try creating a charitable culture that’s tied to your business niche or objectives. What does your business have to give the world? Is there a way to tie your product, services, or expertise with a charity? For example, ChicExecs provides pro-bono services to Haitian charity Grangou, which provides safety and shelter for at-risk children.

If you manufacture clothes, maybe your goal is to combat youth homelessness. If you offer services like Web hosting, maybe you provide free services to local charities. This makes it easier to offer expert advice to charities in need. Plus, it boosts morale!

5.   Lead by example.

Culture doesn’t happen because you will it to happen. It happens from the top-down, which means CEOs and leaders have to be the first to embrace giving back. Founders should be just as involved, if not more involved, in charitable work.

You want to show employees that giving back is, in fact, important to your business. If they’re in the trenches, making sandwiches at the food bank, you need to be there, too. Lead by example to create the culture you want to see.

The bottom line

Giving back not only boosts employee happiness and your business’s reputation, but it’s the right thing to do. Take responsibility as the leader of your business and create the culture (and world) that you want to see. Give back.

Stakeholder Capitalism
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