Most companies these days are looking to give back to their community (and their community is grateful). But before you make that leap into supporting that Walk-a-Thon, consider giving your choice a little more thought.
- Will the enthusiasm last? One-shot events are great, but long-term committments are even better. Your staff will get to know and invest in the organization, the people, and the cause if they keep going back.
- Convenience is the key (at first). People have a lot on their plates. Volunteering typically takes the very back seat (you know, the one that faces the other drivers) so you have to be proactive in making the volunteer process that much easier for them to participate. The two biggest ways you can make volunteering more convenient is through location and timing. Present opportunities not just near work, but also near where your employees live. Weekends or lunch breaks are typically better, since everyone has so much going on weeknights. Even better, offer opportunities at multiple times with varying degrees of committment so people with different schedules can still participate.
- Try something new. The impact on both those in need and those giving help is ten times greater if it’s not something you’ve done (or do) a million times a day, and not something that comes naturally. If you are meeting planners, (while giving back with your talents is wonderful), try digging up dirt in a community garden, or preparing food at a homeless shelter.
- Pick something consistent with your corporate philosophy. While #3 suggests trying something new, I still highly recommend choosing opportunities or partner organizations based on your corporate culture and what types of clients you serve. If you are a medical meeting planning agency, choose a partner who supports one of your therapeutic areas. If you are a meeting planner for clients in the entertainment industry, try finding organizations that support youth talents in music, art and film.
- Meet with the organization you’re supporting. You want to be able to get a feel for their most urgent needs, what their goals are and how they treat their volunteers. Meeting those who train volunteers and run the organization is the single best way to determine if the match is a good fit.
What have you found to be critical in determining outreach partnerships?