Giving back to the community is a priority for many companies, and the impact that an organization with a strong corporate social responsibility program can have on charitable programs is significant. While many companies list giving back as a value, they often fail to invest the time into building energy around charitable programs and offering multiple ways for their staff to contribute. 

The benefits that arise from investing in giving back programs go beyond the obvious priority of 'doing good' and enjoying the satisfaction of serving the needs of others. Charitable work also helps companies to strengthen the company's brand and visibility, to recruit and retain employees aligned with company values, and to promote employee camaraderie and rapport. 

If your company doesn't have a corporate program for giving back or simply needs a refresh, consider implementing one or more of these initiatives to jump-start this priority.?

Cash and Sponsorships

Perhaps the most obvious (and per most charities, the most impactful) way to give to charitable causes is through monetary contributions that the recipient can deploy towards the areas of highest need. Whether your company donates as a part of an annual giving program or through the sponsorship of public charity events (such as a golf tournament, where your generosity would receive more recognition than a flat donation), monetary contributions go a long way towards helping charities to achieve their goals. 

Pro Bono Services

Another way for individual employees to make a major impact in the community is to offer services or training at no charge. This is a great way for people who prefer one-to-one engagement to contribute to their cause of choice. Whether they donate time to mentor and teach new job skills (such as coding) or provide free services for an organization (website development, for instance), this kind of volunteerism can create meaningful impact and lasting relationships. 

Office Drives

For time-strapped teams, office drives can provide a worthwhile way to give back without giving up hours on the job. Here at Greenleaf Book Group, we have at least four employee-run drives per year to collect donations for causes like pet food for elderly pet owners, diapers for underprivileged families, socks for the homeless, and books for prisoners. 

Letter Campaigns

Another way for employees who struggle to commit to time offsite to give back is through letter campaigns. Programs like Cardz For Kidz (hand-delivered homemade cards for hospitalized and/or traumatized kids) provide opportunities for employees to contribute their time and creative energy when it's convenient for them, without having to leave the office. 

Consider launching the initiative with a card-making party where you provide letter-writing supplies, snacks, and so on - and then leave the materials and instructions in a place where employees can pop in at-will to contribute a card as time permits.

Volunteer Day

Carving out a dedicated day for a company-wide local volunteer effort can be a challenge with a large team, but the impact is tremendous. Volunteer days also allow for interaction and camaraderie between employees whose teams would not otherwise intersect, especially if you structure teams ahead of time with a focus on cross-departmental team-building. Find an employee to champion the research and outreach required to identify volunteer opportunities that can scale to the size of your team.

Corporate Team Events

It's quite likely that you have a group of employees who will sign up for local athletic events like bike races, marathons, and 5ks. Pulling together a corporate team with registration fees covered by the company is a great way to underscore an emphasis on healthy living while also helping to support the charities affiliated with the event itself. The training teams that emerge from these corporate teams also boost employee morale and engagement.

Company Match

To underscore your company's commitment to giving back, consider a company match on employee donations made to qualifying non-profits. A matching program can be a meaningful part of a company's corporate social responsibility program and adds to employee participation and enthusiasm. If necessary, cap it at a threshold appropriate for your company; exceeding that cap would probably be a good problem to have. 

Your company and the team behind it have the power to create substantial lasting impact through volunteerism and philanthropy. Like any corporate strategy, such a program needs structure, accountability, and team buy-in to succeed. Consider a mix of the options above to build out a robust giving back program, then identify ambassadors to carry the components forward. In return, your company will enjoy the satisfaction of serving others while simultaneously building relationships, new skills, and a rewarding sense of purpose.