Tis the season! Yes, it’s that time of year for candy-cane tree trimmings and 24 hours of “A Christmas Story,” but it’s also a great time to help those who aren’t able to enjoy the splendor of the season so easily.
At ENC, we take time throughout the year to give back to our community and those in need. You’ll remember that we provided a scholarship for Grant, a future hero dog who will make an incredible difference in the life of a veteran. This year we hosted another drive for the United Way Shoebox Project, which benefits the region’s elderly, veterans and homeless by providing them with basic need and emergency products.
To support its efforts in helping families transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing, we headed to Homestretch this summer to help enhance its HQ office. We also “adopted” a few more kids for Homestretch’s annual back-to-school program. Last month, we went back to the Food for Others warehouse with 150 pounds of donated food and six sets of hands to sort and bag Thanksgiving essentials for the less fortunate in the northern Virginia region.
ENC is a small agency, but we understand that every little bit can make a difference. Here are five tips we’ve learned along the way that may help your organization’s community service efforts:
- Variety is the spice of life. Even with only a few people, you can find different kinds of volunteer opportunities. You can host a collection for your local animal shelter, spend a morning beautifying your local park, assemble lunch packs at a food bank – the list goes on. Get in touch with organizations near you and you’ll likely be able to find something to fit your fancy and keep your colleagues interested and engaged.
- Sharing is caring. Make it as easy as possible for people to participate in your effort by sharing all relevant details up front – don’t make people have to hunt for answers themselves (because they may not!). Consider those essential questions as you develop your promotional materials: who, what, where, when, why, how.
- Involve neighboring offices. If you share a building with other businesses and you’re collecting items, invite them to donate as well! With your building management’s approval, post signs in the lobby, send out an email and put out a collection bin outside your office suite. People will be happy to help, especially given the convenience of the effort being so close.
- Gentle reminders. Whether you’re approaching the last day of your food drive or headed out for a community beautification project, connect with participants a day or two before to remind them of the effort. Provide an abbreviated version of the essential information so there’s no confusion.
- Say thanks! After your effort, thank your team and those involved and report on your success. How many packages did you assemble or how much debris did you clear? Quantify and qualify what you’ve accomplished. You can also share photos from the event – even post them on social media. Folks will feel great about the positive effects they’ve had and be jazzed for the next opportunity when it rolls around.
So as you prepare to strike the harp and join the chorus, keep in mind (as we will too) how we can help make this – and every – season jolly for all.