Give Until You Feel Better

Posted: December 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s Christmas, so it’s a time for office parties, shopping, eating too much, definitely drinking too much and then feeling bad when you’re hungover or a bit iffy after eating an entire packet of mince pies in one go.

At the back of your mind you remember your teachers or your grandmother or someone saying something about ‘it’s not about the presents you get, Christmas is a time for giving’ then you see yet another mawkish advert on TV with someone going out of their way to make someone more unfortunate’s life a bit better. It kind of hits you right there, doesn’t it? Putting some loose change in a collection box is one thing but there must be more you can do. Something that will really make a difference to your community.

No matter how big or small your company, people are waiting for your help

You’re far from the only person feeling this urge to do good things for people less fortunate at this time of year and there are so many things that you can do if you pull together with the people that you already work with. It doesn’t matter what size your company is, there is always something that you can do.

If you work in a small company you might be limited to the amount of time you can devote to charity. Charities are always short of money, especially at this time of year when everyone is preoccupied with making sure they have the best for their own families. If everyone where you worked could come up with just a little bit of cash, then it soon mounts up. Something as simple as a whip-round, a bake sale or buying an extra present for a local project can make a difference. A Fancy Dress Down Friday can be a lot of fun and if you are feeling brave, you can take to the streets at lunchtime to shake the collection bucket at your neighbours. (Remember though, some people really hate this kind of thing, so maybe they’d just like to pay a tariff to wear their ordinary clothes to work instead.)

Helping out does more than just get you on a charitable organisation’s Christmas card list for next year. Monetary donations made through Gift Aid will not only benefit the charity as they get the income tax that would have gone to the treasury, such donations are also eligible for tax relief. (You’ll want to talk to your accountants or a tax advisor to find out about limitations.)

Bolder charity fundraising ideas could involve getting your colleagues to take part in sponsored events. Justgiving.com and localgiving.com are but two sites that make it easy to oragnise sponsorship for your events, meaning that raising and collecting money is far easier it ever was in the past. You can be as imaginative as you like with the events you want to attract sponsorship for, fun-runs, sitting in bathtubs of custard and silences were popular once but things have come a long way since then. Challenges can be used in a way that really drives the plight of the people you’re trying to help home. Some companies will do a Sponsored Sleep-Out, sleeping rough on the streets for a night in January in the rain or snow, to highlight what a truly awful experience it must be find yourself in that predicament. And if you want to donate more than just a few pounds, then how about donating your time and labour as well?

Another way of helping your local community directly is taking time out of your regular working week to go help out with the work your charity is involved in. Helping decorate, clean and run a kitchen at Christmas, taking food around to rough sleepers, helping out at community centres, care-homes libraries, schools, animal shelters and food banks are all possibilities. Crisis, the charity for single homeless people, have several centres in London and works with several other charities who offer food, a bath, advice, shelter and companionship to people in need and they all require help with everything from cooking, serving and cleaning, drivers, translators, entertainers and everything in between. To find who else is looking for people offering their time, just Google ‘volunteer christmas’ and the area you work in. Alternatively contacting organisations such as the Royal Voluntary Service will give you more great ideas of what you could do to support your community.

Real challenges build real relationships

Employers shouldn’t see this as simply a way for staff to get out of the office for a day, instead, look at it from this angle: Volunteering gives people the opportunity to solve real problems, to develop leadership, listening and delegating skills. What would you rather, Pay a team-building specialist to take your staff for a weekend of trust exercises and raft building in an outward-bound centre in Shropshire? Or genuinely put something back into your community while building real camaraderie, morale and cohesion among the people who work for you? Much better, in my opinion, to generate a genuine feel-good buzz in the office having made a real difference to people who needed help. This is your opportunity to reach out your hand and do some good rather than annoy your staff by dragging them outside their box and forcing them to try blue-sky thinking about some fenceposts and a plastic barrel.

A lot of businesses have a community involvement policy and those that do champion community action are viewed favourably by their consumers and have happier staff. As many as 82% of consumers claim to bear Corporate Social Responsibility in mind when they are deciding what to buy and where to shop. There is a genuine interest among consumers that when they buy something the money they spend isn’t just going into a fat-cat’s offshore account but being used to help people, pay a fair price for goods and resources that are sustainable and environmentally sound. Take advantage of this interest by incorporating your community involvement into your public persona, build relationships and remember, like your nan said, it’s better to give than to receive.

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