As we are in the Christmas season, it seemed fitting to write a blog post on giving back to the community. Most organizations strive to be socially accountable in one way or another, so we’ll discuss some of the ways in which this is possible. And it should be noted that to give back, an organization does not necessarily need to spend a lot of money. First, though, why is it important for your organization to give back? Organizations operate within the community, and giving back helps to tie the company closer to the community. As well, being a good corporate citizen will make the community stronger or more vibrant than what it currently is. This will benefit everyone, including the organizations that operate within the community.

Here are some suggested ways that your company can give back:

• Donate time to your local food bank or other charitable organizations.
• Partner with a school to develop a reading buddy program.
• Donate items (for example, gifts and food) to less fortunate families at Christmas.
• Neighbourhood clean-up for Earth Day.
• Creating scholarships for students. For example, if your organization is an engineering firm, you could create a 1st year scholarship for a student to attend a post-secondary engineering program.

There is no shortage of community organizations and charities that your company can partner with. And whether you choose to focus on one or two specific initiatives year after year, or choose to “share the wealth” among a different organization each year, your company’s efforts will be welcomed by those who you are assisting.

Make giving back part of your organizational culture. Talk about this aspect of your organization when interviewing job candidates. Include this information on your company website, in your annual report, newsletters, and so forth. One way to incentivize employees would be by giving paid time off to help out with charitable causes. For instance, you could provide each staff member one paid day off per year to go and volunteer with an organization of their choosing. On the practical side, ensure that staff are safe when volunteering on “company time”. If helping to build a house for a community organization, for example, make sure that insurance coverage is in place in the event that your employee is injured (of course, hopefully something like this never occurs!)

If need be, create a small committee or group that focuses on your company’s community involvement. This group will ensure that your organization stays connected to community needs and can be an avenue for feedback or suggestions from employees.

Giving back strengthens your brand as an employer and creates goodwill. In the hectic and stressful day-to-day of running a business, these community-centred initiatives are a tangible way of seeing your organization making a difference in the lives of those around you.

To close, we wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping that you and your employees can enjoy some down time with family and friends throughout this holiday season!

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