Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to Make Time to Give Back During the Busy Holiday Season

Want to get in the holiday spirit by giving back to your community, but feeling the hectic time crunch that accompanies the season? Fortunately, some companies—such as JOANN and and Toyota Financial Services—offer team-building volunteer opportunities to their employees during the work day, a wonderful benefit year-round, but especially during the time-strapped holiday season. Look into whether your employer offers a program, and if so, be sure to take advantage of it.

If there’s no such opportunity, reach out to your human resources department to see how you can help start an employee volunteer program this year. Although it may take some effort to get things started, you’re sure to find coworkers who also want to be involved, and your efforts could be the spark to building a program that benefits everyone involved for years to come. In addition to helping those in need—whether it be children, animals, those without homes, or older people—volunteering through your employer can also help you. Here’s how.

You’ll support causes you believe in.
Are you interested in advancing girls’ and women’s involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields? Volunteer or mentor at your local Girl Scout council for STEM-related programs. You can also show your company’s appreciation for the community by getting to know the area’s needs and identifying a project with the greatest impact.

You’ll foster team building.
“Volunteering through work can be a great way to get to know those you work with closely but perhaps didn’t realize you share passions or interests with beyond work,” explains Girl Scouts' developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Spending that time together can deepen your relationships and even help them develop into long-term friendships.”

You’ll create network-broadening opportunities.
Taking the time during the work day to volunteer through your employer allows informal opportunities to network outside your department and the team or groups with which you usually collaborate. You’ll get to meet new people who represent different parts of the organization at different levels.

You can make it a family affair.
Volunteering and community service are healthy habits you can practice in the workplace and beyond. Spread the charitable cheer by encouraging your organization to include families (even kids of all grade levels) in a project. Many places that accept volunteers—from soup kitchens to homeless shelters to retirement homes—welcome helpers of all ages. Look into the options in your community, and make giving back a bonding experience everyone will remember. You may find it rewarding enough that you’ll want to make it an annual tradition!

Mobilize your network to donate to causes you care about. 
If your company doesn’t approve your idea to volunteer, ask if it will match employee donations to a charitable organization. (Many companies, including Raytheon, offer these programs.) You and your coworkers could donate to those in need while ensuring that your money goes even further than a typical fundraiser. If you continue to stay involved with the organization throughout the year, you may find that your efforts are the gift that keeps on giving.