Guest Post by Jessica G. Hartung
Engaging in the community around your workplace yields tremendous positive benefits. It feels good to make a positive difference in your own neighborhood, and there are direct business advantages as well. Here are seven entry points for those who want to get started.
Consider Pro Bono Connections
Match the skills of employees willing to volunteer pro bono services to your local community’s needs. Individuals or teams can support local initiatives, non-profits, or foundations. Not only are strong leadership contributions being made into the community, but those sharing their skills are also learning and growing from the experience.
Pro bono assistance in accounting, legal, design and media, technology, administration, facilitation, and mentoring are highly valued. Skilled volunteers can make a real difference to supplement the talent within a community organization.
Join Community Boards
Local non-profits, social service agencies, schools and municipalities all have advisory groups, boards, task forces, committees or focus groups. Go to one or more to investigate what is happening in your community and look for opportunities to offer value. Being on a committee, running a community event, chairing a fundraiser, or organizing volunteers are all great skill-building and network-building activities.
The training and development many boards receive on finances, compliance, and personnel matters are highly educational for those intending a career in leadership. A company may also support a board with pro bono and donated services.
Connect with Current Issues
What is happening in your community that relates to your work? Connecting with current issues, you can make opportunities to creatively apply resources, time or technology for the public good. It’s motivating to be working on a worthy, timely contribution that has a high-impact on a meaningful cause, even more so when you can directly see the results of your efforts.
Nonprofits or foundations may be partners to help move the needle on a specific issue through a grant or program to guide or inspire the effort. Together you can create a great case study about how best to achieve a social aim, or discover lessons learned along the way. Issue-focused contributions elevate a company and its employees in ways that are satisfying and meaningful.
Sponsor or Attend Awards Ceremonies
Celebrating local achievements and services reinforces the positive aspects of any community.Tweet
Can your organization sponsor an award that is consistent with your values, or find a way to enhance the experience for attendees? A company can provide support for the organizers, offer a venue, donate products for the ceremony or help advertise the event, all while generating positive community connections. Celebrating local achievements and services reinforces the positive aspects of any community.
Invite Others In
Who would want to tour your organization, or learn more about what you do? Perhaps career education programs, local schools, or camps would like to visit your workplace to learn more about what you do or gain some hands-on educational experience. Reaching out to invite others into your world helps them understand the needs, context, and culture of your organization.
Virtual and video connections can be another way employers can invite in a range of non-profits, social enterprises, and students. Building stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of your organization within the community can lead to exploring advanced public-private partnerships.
Participate in Joint Ventures
Are there local social service agencies or educational programs that would benefit from an internship program at your organization, having you as a program partner? Some community colleges and local governments have partnered with employers to create mutually beneficial workforce development programs.
Collaborating in a public-private partnership to obtain mutually beneficial goals takes time, planning and leading through diverse opinions and uncertainty. It provides the thrill of creating a lasting benefit to both organizations within a dynamic and diverse context. What a great leadership training ground!
Take a Day Out
Volunteer together as a group of co-workers. There are so many seasonal volunteer opportunities that can become a part of your company’s culture. On a holiday week, you could have a series of volunteer days for food banks, or in the summer a tree-planting session in conjunction with a reforestation initiative. The types of volunteer opportunities are endless, and the relationships that are built in your community? Priceless.
Jessica G. Hartung is the founder and CEO of Integrated Work, which provides real-time leadership development to mission-driven organizations. Author of The Conscious Professional: Transform Your Life at Work, Jessica provides tools and mentorship for purpose-driven leaders to help them grow personally, professionally, and collectively from work experiences. Find tools and resources at jessicahartung.com.