Do you want to reduce stress, build your skillset and help your fellow man in one fell swoop? Then volunteering should be your ONE Thing.
Simple acts of kindness are highly beneficial for our own wellbeing. But what’s even better is that the people you help are more likely to do the same for others. It’s a wonderful domino effect that has a positive impact down the line.
There are many ways that companies and individuals can make a difference in their communities. And when companies encourage their employees to give back — that’s when the magic happens. Take Keller Williams Realty, for instance. The company has made volunteerism a priority and lives this value by encouraging their employees and associates to get involved. Every year since 2009, KW holds Red Day on the second Thursday in May. On this day, KW teams across the country get out of the office and put their work on hold for a day in order to help their local communities.
Strong communities create stable economies and better opportunities for everyone. Building strong relationships within the community can boost business, but more importantly it gets you invested in the area your company depends on. It’s only right to give back to the people who support your business the most.
No matter how you help out, find a cause that you’re passionate about. Following a passion can help lead you to a volunteer opportunity you’ll enjoy. You’re also more likely to experience the full benefits of altruism when you come from a place of authenticity.
Get Involved With Local Government Agencies
Your local government is probably looking for volunteers right now. Each department has its own needs and is working within budget restraints. Every hour of volunteer work helps preserve vital resources.
Individuals and business leaders can also serve on boards. For example, many cities have a Chamber of Commerce, downtown business councils and commercial planning committees. The expertise you bring to the table could prove to be invaluable for shaping policies and projects.
Local governments also hold community events for certain departments or with specific goals in mind. This can be a great way to get your entire company involved. Employees can volunteer their time and the company can provide resources or help promote the event.
Help Out Nearby Hospitals
Hospitals can always use a few extra helping hands. They are taking care of the most at-risk citizens, which is a huge task. Most hospitals have special volunteer programs for people who want to get involved. The program will outline the hospital’s needs, requirements and how people can help.
Volunteers don’t need a background in medicine or formal training. However, be prepared for an interview. The top priority for any hospital is keeping patients safe. They want to make sure volunteers can handle working within a hospital environment and won’t pose a threat.
Sponsoring a charity event is one way companies can get involved with their local hospitals. They can also hold a local blood drive or help collect donations. Simply offering your office as a drop off for donations or site for an event can provide much needed assistance.
Give Time, Expertise and Resources to Local Schools
If you have school-aged children one great way to get involved is to volunteer at their school. Education facilities have been community centers for hundreds of years. It’s the place where our youngest community members grow and develop. Joining the PTA is a good way to support a school whether your child attends a public or private facility. Volunteering as a classroom aid can also be highly beneficial for schools that are shorthanded.
Companies can also partner up with local schools to put on events like a career day or provide professional services. Many schools operate on a very tight budget. Without volunteers and companies donating their time they may not be able to provide students with certain curriculum or after school activities.
One very vital service that can be provided is energy efficiency improvements. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that schools spend $6 billion a year on energy. Utilities are the second biggest expense for U.S. schools after teacher salaries. Implementing energy efficiency initiatives can reduce the cost of utilities by as much as 25 percent. That’s $1.5 billion that can be put towards improving education rather than powering schools.
Your company doesn’t have to specialize in green technology to help out. Even something as simple as donating compact fluorescent light bulbs can make a big difference. And if your company has created an energy reduction plan for the office, you can share that with school officials to help them implement cost-reducing changes.
Get Involved Through a National Organization
There are many national organizations that help communities and people all over the country. These organizations can work with both local chapters and community leaders to deliver services, organize fundraisers and provide supplies. They also partner with local businesses to provide services within the community.
Here are just a few organizations to consider:
- Keep America Beautiful
- American Red Cross
- Susan B. Komen Foundation
- Humane Society
- Boys and Girls Club
- Feeding America
- The Salvation Army
- Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- YMCA of the USA
- United Way
- American Cancer Society
The Corporation for National & Community Service can help individuals and businesses find ways to help their city. They can also provide support if you want to start your own community project.
We’d love to hear how you or your business is helping the local community. Share your experiences with us on Facebook or in the comments!