Few things can boost morale and pump up team spirit like making a real impact together. Corporate charity, or doing things as a group that benefit your community, has become more popular in recent years. This time of year in particular is good for bringing your team together to help others. As we approach the holidays, it’s easy to forget about those less fortunate than your team - but there is more need than ever. Working together to improve the environment around us is a powerful way to drum up warm and fuzzy feelings amongst our team.
Whether your team is on-site, off-site, or virtual, you can make a difference doing corporate charity. Here’s how!
Charity team building for on-site teams
1. Volunteer at a local food bank
Hunger is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. Most communities have organizations that run food programs such as a food bank. Volunteers are always needed to do things like sort packages or work on meals. Many organizations can not only accommodate larger groups but would love to welcome all of the extra hands! Working together to minimize hunger in your community will mean a lot to your team. Do a quick online search to see what’s available in your area and schedule a time for everyone to gather around food.
2. Clean up a park or beach
Spend some time outside doing work that makes a difference! Chances are there are local parks who could use help picking up litter, planting flowers, or removing vandalism. Beaches often have trash or debris that needs to be picked up. This is a great way to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. Local children will benefit directly from this work which will make everyone feel great, and who doesn’t enjoy some fun with colleagues on a beautiful beach?
3. Help build a home
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are popular for a reason. “Group builds” are a really fun, hands-on activity that is easy to arrange for a group. A company like Habitat for Humanity is used to working with companies and other groups of people, and can help to coordinate projects and tasks so that everyone can play a role that’s suited to their talents.
4. Share your talents
Speaking of specific talents, you can share the skills that make you, you. Whether that’s singing, telling jokes, playing cards, or just being a listening ear, there are many people who would appreciate having you share. Consider visiting a children’s hospital, a home for the elderly, or other groups who can not easily get out and about.
5. Donate blood
For the less squeamish, try hosting a blood drive. For an activity that doesn’t require much coordination, organize a trip to your local blood bank. Start by contacting the American Red Cross to find locations in your area. Remind your employees that just one blood donation can help two or more individuals.
6. Tutor struggling students
Educational systems could always use more support. Literacy and other learning initiatives are important areas that impact your community, so very worthy of your assistance! This is a great activity for a smaller team since you can partner with individual students or pairs. Reach out to local schools and see who can use some help with after-school programs, or talk to local universities and see if they have programs where they pair students with outside tutors.
7. Help out at charity events
Chances are there is no shortage of charity-sponsored events in your town. From benefit concerts to 5K runs to food drives, most nonprofits host such events as part of their overall fundraising effort. You can help by providing the necessary manpower to pull these events off. They will need staff to do everything from collecting payment to seating people or having shirts printed. Can you spare any of your time or talent to contribute to these efforts? Working together for a greater good is not only fun, but feels great.
8. Tinker with toys
One of the most worthwhile causes is providing toys and gifts to needy children. Particularly leading up to the holidays, there are a lot of kids whose parents won’t be able to provide their dream Christmas. You can help by building and providing toys as a group. You can either fundraise and use the money to shop with (that’s always a fun afternoon!) or you can build toys yourself based on your own skills and various supplies. There are plenty of things you can make from materials you likely already have around your house, like stuffed animals, doll houses or doll clothes, puppets, or hand-sewn felt letters or pouches. Most communities have organizations in place to manage these types of efforts; it’s worth doing some research and seeing what is available in your area. You can partner with them and then you know you’re providing exactly what’s needed the most.
9. Build bikes
Bike-building is a really fun group activity, and incredibly kind for needy children. By creating bikes that kids otherwise wouldn’t have, you’re doing a good deed, but also using problem solving and communication skills. Assembling bikes isn’t easy - it requires a lot of planning and brainpower - so it’s a great exercise for increasing collaboration and critical thinking, too. You’ll need to pull a list of the necessary materials (such as bike frames, wheels and tires, pedals, chains, bike levers - there’s more than you think!) and then make sure each group has all of the necessary components. Work together to build the bikes, and then make sure to test them for safety before handing them over to kids. Don’t forget to include a helmet for everyone - safety first!
For more team bonding in work environments, make sure to follow our blog! In particular, we recommend checking out:
Charity team-building for remote or distributed teams
10. Host a food drive
A food drive is a very impactful yet easy to organize event that can be done from anywhere. If you have offices in different locations, you can reach out to a food bank, church, or other nonprofit that is in the cities where you have a presence. They can tell you what they are most in need of, but non-perishable goods are usually a safe bet. From there, ask for donations from employees and see if they are open to proactively collecting more items from other people they know. Remote employees can send items through the mail, or donate money to the cause so people can shop. Either way, it’s something that everyone can participate in and feel great about, no matter where they are - even their couch!
11. Assemble kits for foster kids
There are many difficult parts of being a foster care kid, but one of the toughest elements is that they often don’t have their own luggage, personal care products, and more. Your team can work with an organization who specializes in gifting these necessary items. For example, Together We Rise is a group that provides foster care children with kits designed to put a smile on their faces. From birthday boxes to STEM boxes, they will explain to you the necessary components and then you can build the kits from anywhere.
12. Share vocational skills
Vocational skills are necessary in today’s world, but can be hard to come by. If there are members of your community seeking to further their skills in order to be more employable, you can help! Teaching vocational skills for free is an incredibly powerful way to help people around you. What skills does your team have? Put together some sessions - a nearby church or school is likely to allow you to use a space for free - and publicize them in advance. Things like woodworking, welding, and sewing are all valuable skills that people normally pay for, but you can help with for free!
13. Donate school supplies
Schools are notoriously underfunded. You can help schools that have limited resources by finding out what they need and holding a collection. Art supplies, paper, markers, chalk, and white boards are all highly valued and inexpensive. Ask your team - in all locations - to gather school supplies and ask others to contribute. Then, they can package them up and take them into their closest school.
14. Create care packages
Low-income families tend to go without a lot of the things that we take for granted. You can make things easier for them by putting together care packages containing things like personal hygiene items, socks, small children’s toys, books, etc. In the winter, hats and gloves will be very welcome, and things like light bulbs, school supplies, and non-perishable food are always helpful. You can put the kits together on your own and deliver them to a local food bank, or work with a local organization to get their specific requests.
15. Share pro-bono skills
Similar to the vocational skills we mentioned, there are likely to be plenty of skills among your team that could be helpful to others. Reach out to local organizations and see what gaps they have. Your staff can do anything from writing marketing materials to assisting with accounting. If your team is out of several locations, you can organize a company-wide volunteer day where everyone can participate in helping their chosen organization.
16. Prepare healthy foods for the homeless
Work together (or separately if your team is remote) to create boxed lunches or breakfasts for the needy. Again, you can coordinate with a local food bank, or just do it on your own and hand out the food in your area. Set up a station in your home kitchen or reserve a commercial kitchen, and bring in ingredients and boxes to package things up. You can keep things simple with sandwiches, vegetables, apples, and cookies.
17. Assemble furniture
For a more creative team-building activity, consider putting together some simple furniture. Things like chairs or bookshelves are not too difficult to put together, and the supplies are readily available. You can send everyone kits that you bought online (for example, from Ikea) so they can work independently. For some extra laughs, connect via Zoom so that you can watch and help each other while you put the items together.
Fully virtual corporate charity ideas
18. Online tutoring
No matter where your team is, they can provide much-needed academic support for students. This is a great way for staff to volunteer from their own home, on their own timeline. Look for organizations like UpChieve that pair students with available online tutors (for free!).
19. Mentor veterans
It can be difficult for veterans to acclimate to daily life and the jobs that go with them. Many of them worry about how their service skills will translate to regular experiences that can support their families. The staff on your team can help by sharing their smarts in a mentoring relationship. With a nonprofit like Hire Heroes USA, you can have a one-time conversation with veteran job seekers to discuss various aspects of fields of employment. Note: though we mentioned a US-based firm specifically, other countries are likely to have their own networks for veterans; do research that’s local to you.
20. Share tech skills
Does your team have amazing technology skills? If so, they can put those skills to amazing use by working with companies seeking tech talent for the greater good. DemocracyLab maintains a database of projects that require the skills your team possesses. Many projects seek technology assistance, but you can also find areas like business operations, accounting, and legal advice. There’s a good chance that everyone in your department can find a path for supplying their skills when it’s convenient for them.
21. Support soldiers
A great volunteer opportunity that is sure to result in warm and fuzzies - and can be done from anywhere - is supporting armed service members who are on assignment overseas. Employees can work independently or engage their entire family to do everything from writing letters to making blankets to creating candy bags. Do some research in your area and see if there is a list of nonprofits centered on providing support to armed service members.
22. Donate funds from a fitness class
Fundraising with a fitness class is great for your cause and your health! If your company is focused on some health and wellness goals, hosting a fitness class is a win-win! Consider a dance or yoga class, or start a running club. You just need a professional who is capable of leading the class and also managing logistics like renting a room or choosing running paths. Once you have a plan, publicize your class far and wide! Remember, you’re hosting the class, but it shouldn’t be limited to just employees. You want to generate a large audience! Charge a nominal feel and let everyone know the proceeds are going to a specific charity. This is a great way to do good, feel good, and share some goodwill in your community.
A business case for corporate charity
Hopefully all of those ideas sounded fun to you. Your employees are sure to have a good time and do some good in the world. However, there’s something in it for management as well. People who find meaning in their work tend to be happier and stay longer. It’s not always easy to “find meaning” in our day-to-day activities - but working for a company that cares for the greater community and the world that we all live in is a good start. According to Harvard Business Review, meaningfulness at work matters more than pay increases, promotions, and working conditions. As their report states, people who experience meaningfulness at work are more likely to be engaged, committed, and satisfied. According to a report from Deloitte, millennials in particular are keen to participate in volunteer activities. Their research shows that those employees who participate in a volunteer program at work are more likely to be “loyal and satisfied” than those who do not volunteer.
Sounds like what you want for your employees, right? Corporate charity is a win-win-win (for you, your staff, and for those you help)!
With an abundance of nonprofits looking for help, there are tons of ways for you to get involved as a team. There are endless opportunities for your group to find activities that they will enjoy, as well as find meaningful - and bond while they do it.
Corporate charity builds company culture
Doing good work together feels amazing. Companies who make efforts to benefit the communities in which they work and play are viewed more positively by their own staff, as well as their customers.
The best way to plan corporate charity is to integrate it into your next corporate event. For your next corporate retreat, create a balanced agenda of learning, celebrating, and volunteering together.