I feel conflicted about hashtag-identifiable days that allow us to call out a concept, cause or action in order to draw attention to it. There is no question that going #ADayWithoutWater encourages us to think about what life would be like without access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water (a sad fact for 844 million people by the way.) I am all for celebrating #NationalChocolateDay, on October 28 each year, conveniently three days before Halloween, when we all imbibe on too much chocolate. I would be unfair to my fellow ladies if I didn't go all out on March 8, #InternationalWomensDay. Yet is there not something depressing about picking one day of the year to focus on the plight of women, or imagine what it feels like to be poor, or to eat a certain food, pay for a certain service, give to a certain cause? Should we not be focusing on these issues ALL the time, with as much intent as we can possible muster?
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching here in the States, and #GivingTuesday following shortly thereafter, I have been asked for my thoughts on how best to give back, particularly within the workplace. First, my hope is that eventually we don't need to hashtag certain days, and efforts like #GivingTuesday morph somehow into #GivingEveryday. I recognize that without calling attention to the needs of certain causes, certain sects of our population, even certain products and services, it encourages us to not ignore, and remember the power we all have to make differences in large numbers. I am grateful for #GivingTuesday, for giving millions of dollars to organizations I admire, believe in and work with. Yet I spend each of my days helping companies move into a perpetual mentality of giving back, and one day I hope my job is no longer needed in that respect. Until then, here are three ways to make #GivingTuesday about #GivingEveryday:
(1) Consider which charities or nonprofits are working to solve a problem that your organization or company cares about. Maybe your company rents cement mixers. Find a nonprofit that is working to improve infrastructure in underserved communities. Maybe you work for a bank. Could you drum up donations to microfinance programs? No matter where you spend the 8+ hours each day making a living, there is something you, together with your company, can do to give back.
Be sure to check Charity Navigator to discern whether potential charities are doing their financial due diligence, and using funds wisely. Global Giving is a also a great resource, allowing you to find small, medium and large organizations that contribute to causes you care about. I love buying clients, friends and colleagues Global Giving gift cards, allowing them to pick a recipient for their contribution.
Consider joining 1% for the Planet, committing to donate 1% of gross revenues to environmental causes (there are hundreds to choose from, global to local). Connective Impact recently made this commitment, and we are amazed at how the ways we are already giving back as a company contribute to our 1% goal.
(2) Be creative in encouraging other ways for your workplace to give back, beyond giving money. Encourage your leadership to find partners that help address social or environmental challenges that your organization cares about or are important to helping the company succeed. For example if your company sells paper products, perhaps your company can switch to FSC certified paper, or begin procuring sustainable ingredients, like bamboo. In doing so, your company helps protect natural resources that contribute to planetary health. If you are a logistics company, consider how filling half empty trucks or planes or ships or cars can provide needed goods to those that go without. Contemplate organizing volunteer days, or employee giving days, to drum up financial and human capital support within your workplace. Check out organizations like Pyxera Global, which facilitate employee volunteer experiences.
(3) Last, involve your children and family, so giving back becomes an activity you do together, and learn from. Remember that #GivingTuesday (and the holiday season overall) are not the only times of year that giving your time, resources or attention matter. Try and incorporate giving back in your every day, and share the experiences with friends, colleagues, and your boss. You'll start to see your excitement wear off on others, I guarantee it, and #GivingEveryday may become a reality after all.
For more giving resources, check out Kiva, Bstow, and GivingTuesday.org