of giving back that benefits not only the recipient but the employees and businesses that do the giving.

Gone are the days of donating just for a tax break. More and more, businesses are expected to involve their staffs in large-scale volunteer projects, give them time off to volunteer and support them as they develop their own project ideas.

Encouraging a culture of philanthropy, especially during the holidays, helps build trust with a business’s employees and within the larger community. Better Business Bureau builds and maintains that trust by promoting high ethical standards of conduct and reviewing businesses and nonprofits to ensure they meet those standards.

On a large scale, statistics show that the United States is the world’s most generous nation, donating $373 billion in 2016. Of that, $4 billion is raised annually through workplace giving, or donations made through a paycheck, according to America’s Charities, a membership-based nonprofit in Chantilly, Va.

But employees want to see their companies do more, showing they care about what happens in their communities, desiring to make it a better place to live and work. According to Deloitte LLP’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey, 89 percent of employees believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall work environment than those that do not, and 70 percent said those activities boost employee morale.

Companies can sponsor volunteer activities by working with their employees to identify the causes they care about. They don’t have to look to the large, well-known nonprofits but can consider smaller agencies where the donation of time and money can go a lot further—and the impact from volunteer work is easier to see.

Companies can design a philanthropy program or engage employees in individual charitable activities. Some ideas include:

  • Offering employees paid days off throughout the year to volunteer for a charity or local cause of their choice.
  • Partnering with nonprofits year-round to encourage employees to donate over a weekend or certain days of the week.  
  • Organizing staff volunteer opportunities at places like Habitat for Humanity or other nonprofits that welcome drop-in volunteers.
  • Setting up drives to collect food for food banks or outerwear for nonprofits that distribute items to those in need.
  • Displaying giving trees with tags presenting the names of children, seniors or families and the gifts they desire that employees purchase and nonprofits deliver.
  • Scheduling a potluck and asking employees to vote for the best food item with a donation that is given to a designated nonprofit.

As employees work together on a giving back project, they engage in teamwork, foregoing thoughts of titles and deadlines. Instead, they’re working toward a common goal of making an impact and bond as they share their personal values. They feel empowered to help solve local and social issues as they see their efforts make a real difference.

At the same time, business leaders can engage in networking and making personal connections, developing a mutual trust and respect with nonprofit and community leaders.

BBB advises that before business leaders and employees make any financial donations to nonprofits, they do some research to ensure their donation is going to an agency they can trust. BBB reviews local nonprofits against our BBB Standards for Trust and reports whether or not those nonprofits meet the standards.

To find out about volunteer opportunities, check out websites likeUnited Way’s local volunteer resource guide and the websites of local nonprofits. Ask the nonprofits that peak your interest where they most need the help and make a targeted effort to contribute.

Pam King is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. For more tips and information, visit bbb.org.

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