It may be difficult to imagine that in addition to running a business, you could find time to volunteer. However, I’ve been able to not only work with multiple companies, enjoy time with my wife and daughter, and take a cruise on my boat with friends, but I have also participated in various volunteer activities. What ties all of these activities together is that they all bring me immeasurable joy, particularly the volunteering part.
With the potential for a greater happiness quotient, it made sense to me to focus on creating a service culture within my companies so that I could encourage this same sense of giving in others who came onboard. After all, with so many people looking for a way to happiness, I felt it was giving back to any talent that worked with me to encourage them to volunteer as well.
Here is how I’ve developed a service culture and made volunteer activities part of everyone’s responsibilities:
- Communicate the value of volunteering and gives the team a reason to participate. I’ve shared my own passions as to why I believe a company and people should give themselves to others. As the leader of your business, be that inspiration for others and provide the relevance and motivation to get involved.
- Ask others on the team where and what they would like to help with if given the opportunity to do so. Those on my team are pleased that I ask them what areas we should devote to the volunteer time I’ve allotted as individuals and as a group. I find that choosing areas that interest those on the team rather than just focus on my preferences has opened us up to new areas and made others on the team feel important (as they should!).
- Formalize and structure volunteer efforts that fit within your company’s available timeframe. Obviously, if I know we have crunch time coming up on a project, I’m not going to schedule a volunteer activity then. Therefore, it’s important to look at your calendar and add in this time where it makes sense, perhaps one activity a quarter to begin a focus on service.
- Provide notice and resources that support the volunteer activities so the financial burden is not on the staff. I look for low-cost places where we can mostly supply our sweat equity and talent. Any costs involved I cover as the founder. I want them to enjoy volunteering rather than feel pressured because of it.
To give you some ideas that work well for a service culture, here are some of the volunteering activities that have been successful for my companies:
- We’ve shared our technical skills with nonprofit organizations that have significant gaps in the areas of marketing, design, and especially IT. Members have my team has donated their time to help develop websites and processes that a nonprofit can use that will make them more efficient and productive.
- We’ve adopted local families over the holiday season to provide them with groceries, gifts, and even help around the house. While this is one of the service-oriented approaches that have used more money, it was very gratifying for our staff to see how the local family appreciated our help.
- We’ve helped out at local schools, especially related to technology and mentoring kids to encourage them to learn computer programming and how to build apps. Our assistance with schools has also involved tutoring that has now stretched to adult literacy skills and English language skills.
- We’ve participated in nonprofit events, including preparing and serving meals to the homeless during the holidays and building homes.
- I personally have served on some community boards to provide advice, connections and resources to help on local projects.
- Other staff members have pursued some interests like becoming docents at local museums, universities and art galleries.
One of the results of all these activities has been an increase in certain skills among our team, including organization, resourcefulness, creativity, communication and teamwork. It’s true that volunteering does help you make improvements all around that can be applied to your professional and personal life.
A Team Focused On Social Good
This approach to a service culture also illustrates that corporate giving doesn’t have to involve money. Instead, giving time, talent, and attention to causes is a much more effective way to deliver help where it’s needed the most. Also, it attracts people to your company who are interested in social good and enhances your overall brand image as a company that truly cares.