Joy is bringing you some of our smartest, most financially savvy content from the past year. In the crazy-busy lead-up to the holidays, it’s important to remember that making time for your happiness can make your life richer — as well as your wallet.
When my writing career started to take off, I was thrilled. But as I got busier, the first thing to take a major hit was my volunteer hours. Between my career, family, and friends, I just felt too overwhelmed to commit myself further. However, without giving back, I started to feel just the teeniest bit… incomplete? Service is a big part of what makes me happy, and so I tried to figure out ways to combine work with giving back. Turns out, there are quite a few! Here’s what I found.
Start an employee matching gift program
If you’d like to get more bang for your buck for charity donations, it might be worth it to look into a corporate matching program, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. Every time you make a donation to a nonprofit, your company promises to match. It’s usually a 1:1 ratio, but some companies might do a 2:1, 3:1, or even a 4:1! Not all companies advertise these programs well to their employees, so it’s worth asking about. And if your employer doesn’t currently have a program like this, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want one. You could be just the person to get the ball rolling. A good place to start is to ask your HR department about starting one and see what possibilities there might be.
Organize volunteer days
This one is simple and fun! Check with your HR team to see if organizing volunteer days for the office might be possible. You might even get them to agree to let people use paid days to spend time working for a great cause. Or, maybe it’s something you organize on the weekends or over the holidays. (Some companies have even started designating Martin Luther King Jr. day for company-wide giving back!) Volunteering together can be a great team building exercise, too.
Start pro-bono work
Another great way for your company to give back is to see if they could provide some of their services for free to those in need. For example, I have a friend who works at an advertising firm and she worked with her bosses to donate a few hours a month of her team’s time to help a local nonprofit improve their web and social presence. They’re experts in the field and provide something to the charity that the organization normally couldn’t afford. Plus, the firm gets to feel good because they did something good. It’s a win/win.
Think about the Earth
Being generous towards the planet is a great way to give back at work. Take a look around your office and imagine how it could become more environmentally friendly. Can you help institute a recycling or compost program? Remove plastic straws from the kitchen, and ask for office snacks that are healthier and also have a lower carbon footprint? Perhaps organizing carpools or starting a bike club is up your alley? Then, talk to the pertinent parties at your company to get things moving — often it just takes one person to get it started and then plenty of others jump in to help. Finding ways to bring your office more in line with eco-friendly ideals is a fabulous way to give back.