December 5th, 2017
The holidays are upon us and it’s the time to give. Local and national charities and programs need lots of help this time of year to provide for others not just financially but through volunteering and fundraising efforts. So, don’t be a scrooge! Give your time, services and money to others this holiday and reap the benefits of caring for your community.
Christmas charities and organizations:
Operation Christmas Child: A Christian-based organization, Samaritan’s Purse collects personalized ‘shoe-boxes’ filled with toys and goodies for kids ages 2-14 at drop off locations all over the U.S. Organize a day where you and employees invite the community to come and make shoeboxes, or set up a donation box for toys and items or go online and sign up to volunteer as a drop off location.
Salvation Army: The Salvation Army Angel Tree helps children and families in need during the holidays by providing clothes and toys. Find Angel Trees in local businesses like malls and churches to choose a child’s ‘Angel’ tag. Your business can participate by taking multiple Angel tags and collecting gifts together. Or volunteer at your local Angel Tree warehouse to help sort, shelve and distribute the gifts.
Toys for Tots: One of the oldest gift-giving programs, Toys for Tots began in 1947 as a way for U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to collect and distribute toys for poor children in local communities. Start a competition fundraiser between employees or teams of employees to collect as many toys as possible. Winner receives an extra day off during the holidays or receives a free lunch out on the company. Making gift-giving fun fosters a team mentality of togetherness and joy in your workplace.
Make-A-Wish: The Make-A-Wish foundation gives sick kids the chance to fulfill their wildest dreams. From surprise Disney World trips to becoming a pilot for a day, kids’ wishes are granted through donations and volunteer events that your business can participate in. Consider the Adopt-A-Wish program where everyone in your company will be involved with fulfilling a child’s wish through donations. Set up fundraisers or partner with your local chapter to sponsor walks and charity events.
While the above charities and programs seek to give to children and needy families, if you want to support local charities and causes consider these ideas to raise money and spirits this holiday:
Host a silent auction in support of a charity by offering concert tickets, spa packages and the like. Partner with other local businesses to donate in-kind gifts for the event.
Sell raffle tickets for employees and the community to win prizes that correspond with the products/services you provide.
Walkathons/Half Marathons are a great way to encourage exercise and match gifts with miles walked/run. Charge an admission fee and ask participating groups to get sponsorships.
Host a VIP event with music, dinner, and drinks. Charge an entry fee with the option to donate throughout the night. Include a raffle or silent auction to encourage fundraising and donations.
Charitable deductions: Once your business decides what charitable organization/s you want to give to financially, make sure you can claim that deduction. Charities must be qualified by the IRS and most charities who do qualify tend to advertise that they are tax-deductible. Cash, in-kind, and mileage/travel expense qualify as deductible contributions to charities. Note that volunteered services are not tax deductible.
Sense of community: While not always financially beneficial, giving back to the community is important to establish rapport and respect with neighbors and customers. Everyone wants to be part of supporting groups that share the same values and ideas. Community also provides limitless networking possibilities from expanding your customer base to partnering with key vendors or collaborating with partners.
Exposure and recognition: Participating in community gift-giving drives, fundraisers and the like establishes your business as a key provider in your community’s well-being. With more exposure as a charitable and caring business, others will look to you first in times of need. While this is a great responsibility, your reputation will conjure trust and prestige among the community. This helps to build every other aspect of your business; creating more motivated customers, increased advertising online and through local media outlets, and a positive and loving workplace environment.