Creating an organizational culture of giving

As the holiday season approaches, it’s a reminder for me of the importance of giving. Whether your organization is in the public sector and headquartered in the community you serve oroperates in dozens of cities around the world, each organization has an opportunity to give back. To have the most impact, don’t limit your organization’s philanthropic efforts to a particular team or person. To create a true organizational culture of giving, all of your employees should have the opportunity to contribute.

Lead by example

As a leader, it’s important that you use your position to demonstrate a commitment to service and philanthropy. By incorporating a service project as part of your quarterly or biannual leadership meetings, you can show your team the rewards of giving back and the importance of social responsibility. Opportunities such as these also foster cross-departmental team building and collaboration among your employees by allowing them to make a difference as a team.

Volunteer to serve on boards and committees that can benefit from your skills and knowledge and make sure you support other leaders and managers in your organization to do the same. These opportunities can be some of the most impactful and enduring experiences.

While serving on a civic board or committee can take a small part of an employee’s time and focus away from your organization, allowing them to serve will generate a return on investment through new connections, potential future partnerships and positive energy toward a culture of giving. Make sure your human resources department creates opportunities for employees to participate in civic opportunities on both their personal as well as professional time, as volunteering can help your employees develop skills in areas such as leadership that can help advance their professional growth within your organization.

In addition, be sure to recognize those that give back to you. Our organization is fortunate to have thousands of dedicated volunteers each year. Volunteers are advocates of your organization; they are an extension of your business, and it is important that you recognize them for their efforts and their contributions to your overall mission.

Make it accessible

Create easy, actionable ways for your employees to give back. Help be the conduit to connect your employees with reputable charitable organizations. A charity choice campaign around the holiday season can remind your team of opportunities to support the community — not just through their work but also through charitable giving.

While it is important to make the campaign optional, by making it easy for your team to contribute through a small percentage of each paycheck, you’ll have a higher level of participation and success.

Make it fun

Creating a culture of giving is also creating a stronger team dynamic. Establishing an employee volunteer program encourages teamwork and team bonding, while having a real impact on the surrounding community.

A program organized through your human resources department will help employees establish new relationships and build morale while giving back. An official program also ensures that volunteer time doesn’t conflict with peak work schedules or other organizational conflicts. The bottom line is that group projects can be fun and create positive synergy for your employees, your organization and the communities you serve. ●

Brian Zimmerman is CEO of Cleveland Metroparks

Brian Zimmerman



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