This evening, I am volunteering to feed the homeless and hungry through the Safe Space program here in my hometown of Chico, California. Safe Space is a low-barrier shelter that provides dinner and warm sleeping quarters for at-risk populations throughout the cold winter months.
Giving time and energy to important causes like this is something that has been a personal desire of mine for many years. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I’ve rarely done more than write the occasional check or donate food and clothes. Now, however, as RBMC ramps up, my time is more my own than at pretty much any other point in my adult life. Not that I don’t need to keep my nose to the grindstone and make money–I do, as much now as ever before–but I’m also my own boss and can make daily decisions to volunteer if circumstances dictate. Today I choose to do just that.
Many of you who may know me from my days as publisher of Quality Digest know that the Camp Fire in November devastated the town of Paradise, less than 10 miles away from where I sit right now. The disaster was total and immediate, as more than 20,000 people lost their homes in just a couple of hours. Many of those people are now here in Chico, sheltering as best they can and relying on help from FEMA, the Red Cross, food banks, organizations like Safe Space, and regular folks who just want to help out. We already had too many people with insecure housing here, and now that problem has been exacerbated beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.
As mentioned, I’m fortunate that my job situation at the moment is such that volunteering is a fairly simple undertaking. For many, however, you may be like me in the past–willing to help but struggling to find the time to do so.
To you, I offer this advice: Ask the executives in your organization to consider initiating a charitable program in your area. There are so many people and issues that need assistance, finding a cause will not be a problem.
If you are an executive with the power to start a campaign within your organization, please do so. Incentivize your team to participate; perhaps you can give them a couple of paid hours off per month to join in the fun. Recognition, like heartfelt letters of appreciation from you as a manager, go a long way toward making people feel valued within this process.
There’s good evidence that charitable programs lead to positive fiscal results for companies that engage in it; millennial customers in particular seem to like supporting organizations that do good work within their communities. This is marketing in the best sense, communicating to your audience that you care about the same things they do. It’s meaningful and extremely effective.
Giving is always a great way to engage with ourselves, our teammates, and our community. And it also feels great! The payback is well worth the effort.