7 Innovative Ways Your Business Can Give Back

Employee volunteer days and donation-matching programs are excellent ways for businesses to give back. But companies today are exploring new ways to contribute to their communities, simultaneously stimulating employee (and customer) engagement and having a great impact overall. Here are seven ideas you can start implementing right now:

1. gamify 'going green'

Composting isn’t new, and let’s be honest…not very exciting. But you know what is? Gardening, and getting outside during the work day! Helen Rogerson of Churchill Education says her team has a bucket for food scraps in the company kitchen which they empty regularly into a compost bin. They eventually use that compost to plant and grow a small herb garden on-site.

Team members are able pick out the herbs, plant them, and share the resulting produce. This is a fun and hands-on way to engage your employees and promote good environmental health throughout your business.

2. auction off some goodies, and give away the proceeds

Auctions are a simple way to raise money for a cause you care about, as people are more inclined to purchase products when the profits go towards a philanthropic project. This raises awareness about your company and your cause, and is a fun way to showcase your new and exciting products.

Bluethumb and Handkrafted have a great model in place for this kind of fundraising. They teamed up with local artists to auction off one-of-a-kind artwork online. This is truly win-win: the artists get exposure and the businesses get to give back.

Bonus idea: You could add some extra creative flare and turn this idea into a penny auction to maximize impact, and give more people “the gift of giving.” Bidders would commit small amounts of cash, even a few pennies, towards the item being auctioned. The highest bidder gets the prize, but all the other bidders’ contributions would still go towards a great cause.

3. better yet, just give away your awesome [extra] products

If your company sells a physical good, you are bound to have extra materials and old models laying around. Don’t let them go to waste! Take Orion Labs as an example: the San Francisco company now has its second generation of wearable communication devices on the market.

So what happened to the leftover first generation inventory? Operations guru Andrew Sherman saw an opportunity at a local homeless youth organisation that could put the product to good use. He provided the devices and arranged training for the nonprofit’s team so that these new electronics could improve communications within the program and help it run more seamlessly.

4. add 'giving' incentives for meeting deadlines

Whether it’s incentivizing clients, customers, or employees to hustle towards a business goal, adding in a “giving” reward is a sure way to move them to action. UK-based accounting firm Jonathan Ford & Co used this method to motivate their clientele to file their tax returns on time, by promising to sponsor one child’s malaria treatment overseas for every timely return received.

Tax season is stressful enough, so not only is this helping the kids, it’s helping the employees’ work-flow management as well.

5. use your work space during off hours for a 'can't miss' community event

This is a good way to show your company’s commitment to the local community and become more integrated within it. You can offer a free event, like Amaze Education’s “movie night” where anyone can come and enjoy a peaceful evening catching a new flick at the company’s early education centre.

6. or donate your space to other causes

Nonprofits and charities are often looking for space to use for meetings, events and fundraisers… so why not let them use your empty after-hours work space to do so? You can give back simply by not letting your space go to waste!

7.give 'giving' for special occasions

Providing “giving credits” to your employees or clientele so that they can give to the causes of their choosing is a great way to celebrate achievements and milestones. Jane Burns of Lighthouse Health Group has each of her employees designate their “cause of choice” during their birthday month to which the company contributes towards. This kind of “giving gift card” could be replicated for employee (and customer) engagements, weddings, and birth announcements!

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