5 Ways to Summerize Workplace Philanthropy

tropical vacation packagesIt’s not just your imagination: summer is getting in the way of getting things done at work.  To the tune of a 20 percent drop in workplace productivity, according to a Captivate Network study, with projects taking 13 percent longer to complete and workers becoming a whopping 45 percent more distracted.

Holy guacamole! (Preferably served poolside, with extra chips, thank you).  Should we all just surrender to the sunshine and rendezvous back in September?

If only.  But how to corral all those wandering minds and keep them focused on work during the lazy days of summer?  

Simple: ratchet up the engagement opportunities related to the larger purpose of their work.  Now’s the time to get extra creative with your corporate philanthropy and generate volunteering opportunities that are as intriguing as any tropical vacation (and far more rewarding).

Here’s some food for thought:

1.   Get outside.  Your employees are itching to escape from their cubicles and catch some rays.  Whatever you’ve got on the CSR agenda for the next few months, move it outdoors, if at all possible.  Volunteer opportunities, fundraisers, discussions about your CSR strategy, prep talks and debriefs around volunteering events….whatever it is, try to mix it up and get out of the office.  Plus, ice cream cones never hurt.  Just saying.

2.   Blue sky it.  Put down your pencils and take a step back to look at community impact through a different lens.  Organize a day of big-picture thinking – yes, ideally outside – where employees break up into teams to strategize on how your company’s unique value proposition  or the distinct talents of employees could be leveraged for good.  For tech companies, hackathons have become popular ways to develop sustainable solutions to societal issues.  What is your company’s core competency? Identify your organization’s secret sauce and host a day where your employees use what they know best to solve a real-world problem.  Make a picnic out of it, and you’ve got all the ingredients for your employees to feel valued, heard and engaged.

3.   Voluntourism for vacationers.  The field of voluntourism is exploding, albeit with mixed results.  Some insist that foreign travelers who, say, pitch in at local orphanages or disaster recovery areas, help build awareness and support for ongoing humanitarian aid.  Others argue that voluntourism has become a vanity venture that serves nothing but the egos of tourists.  

But your interested employees don’t need to volunteer through voluntourism agencies that target the masses.  They can do so through your corporate volunteering program, so long as you have geographically diverse nonprofit partners that offer far-flung opportunities, whether domestic or abroad.  Let your employees know that if they want to make their vacations more meaningful and mix in some good works along the way, you’ll do your best to source opportunities that make sense for them and your company.  Then later they can report back about “What I Did Over the Summer,” complete with photos, on your online volunteering platform.

4.   Let the games begin.   A summer-long donation drive can be just what your company needs to rally around one cause.  And making it a crowdfunding competition can be a gateway to do-gooder good times.  For example, you can raise funds for a local school and then wrap it all into an end of summer event, like a trip to an amusement park where your employees spend the day with the kids they helped. That way they see the benefit of their efforts and can keep their morale as high as the summer temperatures all season long.  Just make sure that there’s also a special prize attached to the winner of the crowdfunder – like the opportunity to push the CEO into a pool at a wrap party BBQ.  Nothing keeps the competitive juices flowing like a tantalizing prize that’s priceless in value and abundant in bragging rights.

5.   Love your Mother.  Earth, that is.  With everyone enjoying the outdoors more, increased appreciation for nature is in the air.  There’s many ways that organizations can help the environment, but creating a sustainability activity with a clear goal in mind can be the best way to encourage action and unite your team. Starting a drive to recycle old electronics, for example, adds an end goal while focusing attention around one cause.  Take that a step further by creating incentives for carpooling or biking to work, with a company-wide prize for reaching agreed-upon goals, and your employees will be clamoring to work together so they can win together.  

See?  With a little thought and planning, you can bring summer right into your office corridors, and with it the attention of your employees and the appreciation of your community.  So go forth and summerize; your corporate philanthropy could use the vacation.

Related articles:

When is Corporate Philanthropy Like a Great Game?

Crowdfunding + Corporate Philanthropy = New Fundraising Software

How Free Beer Leads to Sustainable Employee Engagement

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