Using Work Hours as Volunteer Hours Becoming Part of Corporate Culture
The hip shoe and sunglasses company TOMS has set the bar for giving back to the community through its One for One movement. The Southern California-based business helps someone in need for every product it sells and, since its founding in 2006, has distributed 10 million pairs of shoes to impoverished children and restored sight to 200,000 individuals by providing prescription eyewear and funding medical care, including surgeries. Its model is global.
Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, didn’t stop there. The for-profit philanthropist also encourages employees at the company to volunteer. Mycoskie offers opportunities for his staff of do-gooders through organized programs with partner agencies that focus on the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.
Such generosity is contagious, and bosses far and wide have begun to bring similar policies into their corporate cultures for the greater good.
“Why, exactly, is creating opportunities for employees to volunteer so important for building a valuable company culture?” Mycoskie asks in a LinkedIn article. “It connects your business with the community. When employees are encouraged to volunteer, you create a distinct personality for your brand that you might not otherwise be able to develop.”
Volunteering puts everything in perspective. Tutoring an illiterate child can make you thankful for the public-school system and the teachers shaping young students’ futures. Helping a homeless person prepare for a job interview can make you thankful for the roof over your head and the comfortable bed you sleep in every night. Serving a hot meal to a family that can’t afford to feed its children can make you thankful for the full plate on your dinner table and the nutrition it is providing your body.
“Employees experience a refreshed outlook on life – and their work,” Mycoskie writes. “And that often translates to your job: how you view it, the way you get things done, even how to handle a vexing problem you’ve been unable to fix before.”
Most working people struggle to find time to volunteer while balancing their household, personal and professional duties. Giving employees the opportunity to take time off from work to volunteer – on behalf of their company – solves the problem.
“The bottom line: Giving employees the chance to volunteer benefits everyone – your people, your company, your community and your customers,” Mycoskie writes.
Employers who want to develop a volunteer program in their workplace have no shortage of charities to aid. Here are some examples:
The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County needs volunteers for a new undertaking called Building Better Readers. Building Better Readers targets first- and second-graders in Title 1 schools. Adults are needed to spend up to two hours, two times each week, in underachieving classrooms reading to children.
The Lord’s Place, whose mission is to break the cycle of homelessness, has volunteer opportunities in its men’s and women’s shelters, on its family campus and at its kitchen and thrift store. Duties at the shelters include everything from gardening to inspirational speaking to music / voice instruction. On the campus, volunteers work with children and help with activities. In the kitchen, lunch hosts and table companions are needed, and in the thrift store, floor organizers and merchandise pricers are needed.
At the Palm Beach County Food Bank, there are volunteer opportunities as a clerical assistant (answering phones, filing, handling mail and inputting data), warehouse assistant (receiving, sorting, packing food donations and distributing them to local agencies) and with special events.