Are you searching for just the right way for your business to give back through corporate charitable giving? Gratitude is top-of-mind at this time of year, and along with celebrating success we want to meet our philanthropic responsibility to help others who have not been as fortunate.
Opportunities for workplace giving are everywhere you look. But how can you be sure the hard-earned money you give will really make an impact?
Here at Arista, charitable giving has always been a priority for us. Over the years, we have developed a corporate giving strategy that not only helps us maximize the impact of our corporate giving, but also helps us develop and nurture a company culture devoted to helping others. There’s also another fringe benefit: as a service organization, that mindset gives us the ability to provide exceptional customer service.
Here’s how we did it, and how you can do the same at your organization.
STEP 1: Choose a cause that’s meaningful to you and your employees
Making the biggest impact with your charitable giving requires doing more than just donating money. You’re going to need to get your employees, and even their families, involved in your workplace giving campaigns (see steps 2 and 3 below). To be successful, it really helps to choose a cause and a charity that has a personal meaning to your team.
As an air conditioning service company, Arista is all about making living and working conditions better for people. That’s why we chose to work with Convoy of Hope, an organization that is often first on the ground after natural disasters. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year, we knew we had to support the relief effort because many of our employees have friends and family there.
How can you find the right cause that resonates with your employees? Two ways:
- Choose a cause that has some relationship to your industry.
- Think about what your employees may have in common, and what causes support what they care about most.
STEP 2: Use the resources you have to multiply the impact of your charitable giving
The fact is, your charitable giving can do more good when you give time and resources as well as monetary aid.
Arista has many employees who are skilled at building and fixing things. It’s very expensive to hire skilled tradespeople in the places that need them most. So it makes sense for Arista to donate our time and expertise to causes that need those skills. Next month we will be sending 12 employees to Puerto Rico to spend a week rebuilding damaged homes.
Of course, donating time costs money. Arista is paying for travel expenses and our employees’ time (they get their regular salary while they work to help others), to the tune of more than $30,000. But we know that 100% of that contribution goes directly to the cause, and is compounded by the additional resources we invest.
So, when you’re looking into a program for charitable giving, think about what resources you have that could be used to help others. Time and expertise? Equipment? Vehicles? Space?
STEP 3: Get everyone involved
Charity activities that involve the whole company can accomplish amazing things. And when you bring the entire team together to work on a group project, that’s how you begin to establish a workplace culture dedicated to service.
A few months back, we gathered 150 Arista staff members in a park in Queens, NY to pack self-care supplies for the victims of disasters like the one in Puerto Rico (again through Convoy of Hope). We got the idea from participating in similar events at our national HVAC industry conference (Mechanical Service Contractors of America), where the organizers even involved the guests and families of the attendees.
Arista’s project amounted to over 450 hours of labor, and we were able to donate 4000 hygiene kits to people in need. It was not only a successful charitable giving project, but also a great team building experience for our employees.
Want to see what it was like? Watch this quick video about our Arista packing party:
As corporate charity ideas go, a “packing party” is relatively straightforward to organize, assuming you have access to a large enough space with parking (a challenge here in NYC). Another tip: definitely avoid parking rear wheel drive vehicles in the mud (big mistake!).
The point is, everybody wins when you make corporate giving a group effort. You multiply the outcome for the recipients of your philanthropy, provide a personally rewarding experience for employees, and the company gains a more connected and compassionate workforce.