Giving back to your community is always a good idea, especially when you’re a small-business owner who relies on local customers’ loyalty to stay afloat. Thanksgiving is a perfect time for you and your entire staff to get involved in volunteering for organizations that need support. Here are five suggestions for doing just that.
- Host a food, toy, or clothing drive. Set up bins at your store or office and ask local residents and customers to drop off canned and nonperishable foods, unused or new toys, or unwanted clothing for a local charity. Have employees take turns managing and sorting the items you receive — and encourage them to make donations, too.
- Help serve Thanksgiving dinner. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens frequently seek volunteers to help cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner. Contact a local shelter now to discuss what type of assistance would be most valuable, and ask your employees to join you in the endeavor.
- Put a roof over someone’s head. Contact your local Habitat for Humanity to find out about local home-building opportunities, and plan a (paid) volunteering day for your entire staff. If your business sells construction materials, home furnishings, or appliances, consider donating items from your store in addition to your team’s hands-on labor.
- Clean up a local park or beach. Conservation-related activities are simple, high-impact volunteer opportunities that can accommodate large groups. Contact local conservation societies to find out where your company’s help is needed most. In San Francisco, for instance, your staff could plant trees, pick up trash, or maintain trails for groups such as Friends of the Urban Forest and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. (See this PDF for more Bay Area employee-volunteer activities.)
- Volunteer your company’s services. Think about what your business does and who might benefit most from your pro bono services. If you run a hair salon, perhaps you could offer free cuts and colors to domestic-abuse survivors at a women’s shelter? If you operate a web-development agency, why not reach out to a local nonprofit about providing a free site? Ask your employees about their favorite causes, too: If you support what matters most to them, they’re likely to become even more dedicated to your company and what it stands for.