Sunday, April 12, 2009

Giving More of Your Time

Next week, April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week 2009.
"Celebrating People in Action." is the theme that honors the individuals who take action and solve problems in their communities. Whether you participate in the specific events during that week or not, it is a great time to think about how volunteer efforts can become an important part of your business philanthropy. Your business and it’s employees can volunteer in a variety of ways for a cause, an event, or a specific organization.

Here are some ideas for ways your business can volunteer that will be of benefit to you and the organization or cause that you are supporting.

Engage your customers and clients -People love to be part of something meaningful and to make connections with others.
  • Invite your customers to join your efforts.
  • Put up a big sign about what you are planning to do and welcome them to join you. Ask them to sponsor your business in your effort.
  • Offer them a discount or freebies on your services or products give them freebies if they participate or support you.
  • Have t-shirts, mugs, buttons printed up with your business name and the cause as handouts for customers, or for your employees to wear.
Engage your employees- Involve everyone in deciding where and how the business would like to volunteer and the planning of the activities or event.
  • Create a “team” effort, with designated leaders and responsibilities and timetables.
  • Have everyone be part of the vision of what they would like to accomplish.
  • Give employees time off participate in the project, or better yet, allow them to spend a certain amount of their paid time working for the event.
  • If your business is experiencing a slow time and your employees are not working at full capacity, give them the opportunity to volunteer that time towards a cause. Offer their time as pro-bono service to an organization.
  • Have employees bring their families to volunteer with them. This is especially great for things like “beach cleanups’ or doing walks or runs for charities.
  • Make it fun-it builds morale.

Engage other businesses -Your business may not have enough employees to make a significant contribution, but if you send an invitation your local business community to join your efforts you will be able to have a greater impact.

  • Invite your vendors, suppliers, business relationships like your bank, insurance agents, or accountants to join or contribute to your efforts.
  • Build awareness of the cause with shared advertising shared with the other businesses supporting the cause.
  • Have t-shirts, button, mugs, banners printed with the names of each of the businesses that are supporting the cause.
  • Partner with local business in supporting local causes. Turn “Shop Local” efforts into: “Shop Local/Give Local”.

Volunteering is a great way to grow your business by gaining more visibility, building customer loyalty and employee morale, and investing in the very community that supports your business.

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