Victoria Tifft: Balancing charity and work

Giving back to local and global communities is important for organizations and their employees. Though many organizations want to help, they struggle with building a program that balances work demands and employee schedules.

For years, employees in our firm spent many non-working hours volunteering for various organizations. Initially, we encouraged the behavior, tracking volunteer hours and celebrating by presenting employees with small gift cards to thank them for making a difference.

As our company grew, we established the Make a Difference Giving program, which focuses on individual and corporate volunteerism.
Here’s how to establish a program:

  • Define your corporate giving objectives: Our leadership group met with a small group of employees and developed a corporate giving objective. It outlines the parameters of our program including overall program management, financial contributions from the firm for grant awards and specific concentration areas for giving.
  • Establish a committee to execute the program: A small committee was developed from employees within our organization, as was an executive board of three employee members. The executive board recruited volunteers from our employee pool to serve as committee members for each of the established giving areas.

There are many ways to establish a program. To get your creative juices flowing, here are areas our firm concentrates on:

  • Education in science: Our goal is to generate interest in careers in science and research by offering grants to K-8 students in the local school districts where we have corporate offices.
  • Military: We support our soldiers and their families through programs such as the VA Medical Center in Cleveland, the Wounded Warrior Project and Wreaths Across America.
  • Health and research: We support infectious disease research through donations and fundraising activities.
  • Community: This area includes our local and global neighbors and employees. We offer support for the basic needs of others through the Salvation Army, Direct Relief and Feeding America.
  • Recycling: Our recycling efforts include collecting coupons to send to our troops overseas and used books to donate to local hospice thrift shops.
  • Employee volunteers: We encourage volunteerism by entering all employees with at least 25 hours of quarterly volunteer time in a drawing for a $100 donation to the charity of their choice. Employees who donated at least 100 hours of volunteer time in the year are eligible for the Volunteer of the Year award and $1,500 will be given to their charity of choice.

Every firm is different, so the areas that you choose should reflect the passions and interests of your leadership, employees and industry. Contact me if you’d like to learn more about establishing a program for your organization. ●