While the debate of whether business should incorporate CSR, was a big news item this past year, imagine how superfluous and very un-businesslike the idea of incorporating "love" and now "kindness" may seem in the domain of business practices, while cynics surely think business acting kindly is an oxymoron. Yet I hear about restaurants that give leftover baked goods to local food banks, or shoe repair shops that collect old shoes to repair and give to the needy. Businesses like Panera Bread, pay as you want cafe, have sprung up this year whose business models are basically based on kindness.
One doesn't need to change or create a whole new business model to be kind and give back. The point of the Random Acts Of Kindness Week is more about stopping to think about being kind to others in small, perhaps unplanned and spontaneous ways. While I encourage small businesses to create plans for their giving so that they can have a more strategic and long term impact on their communities, the idea of a short period of time where spontaneous acts of caring towards others in the community, towards employees and customers; where giving back in simple yet direct ways, connects everyone with the real meaning of philanthropy, "love of humankind" more readily.
This is one area where small businesses have an advantage over big corporations, in that they see in their day to day operations the needs of their community and their customers and can act on them more readily and spontaneously.
Throughout this blog there are hundreds of tips and suggestions for giving and for acts of kindness that any business can use this week, or any time. The organization, Random Acts of Kindness offers their list of ideas for businesses to try. Better yet, if your business is considering developing a giving plan, try to include a week of spontaneous giving like this one into the future. Can you measure the impact of this? Maybe not.
But, your employees will be happier in the workplace, your customers will appreciate you all the more and your community will be a better place to live and to do business, at least for one week.
- Collect goodies for children to donate to city service workers (e.g., police, firefighters, animal shelter).
- Send floral arrangements to senior centers, nursing homes, police station, hospitals, etc. near your office.
- Collect goods throughout RAK Week (or during the whole year) for a food bank or shelter.
- Give coupons for discounted or free goods to schools to use as incentives for their kindness programs.
- If your office has a RAK Week committee, put out a memo to your staff asking for volunteers to help plan and implement the next campaign.
- Donate a percentage of your revenue for one day to a group in need.
- Donate flowers to a meal delivery program.
- Take up a collection to purchase items needed by a nonprofit organization.
- Plant a Kindness Tree or Garden on the office grounds. Ask the mayor to give a brief presentation at the dedication.
- Organize a blood drive dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness.
- Sponsor a Random Acts of Kindness mascot to circulate, distributing gifts and suggestions for acts of kindness.
- Hand out suggestions for random acts of kindness to each customer or client, and offer a nominal discount in exchange for their pledge to do an act of kindness.
- Give away the first $10 of purchases on a given day or pick a couple of days during RAK Week to do this.
- Set up free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for your employees.
Have some ideas for acts of kindness and giving in your workplace, random or planned, please share them here!