Giving Back to Your Community
Contributing to the needs of your community is a worthy cause for companies and individuals alike. On a personal level, giving something back to those around you is incredibly rewarding. Helping others is one of the best ways to boost your sense of purpose. From a business perspective, community betterment is a win-win. Your name is out there for a positive reason, and you’re doing something great for the people around you. Regardless of which reason convinces you, getting involved should be on your personal and professional goal list this year. Jason Robichaud, Technical Recruiter at Market Street Talent, weighs in on the topic.
What Can You Give?
When you think of giving back, you probably think of volunteer work. This can make you feel like you can’t take charitable action if you don’t have a lot of free time. You may also feel that if you don’t have a chunk of change to donate to a cause, you’re not able to make a difference. Both perspectives are common, but untrue! Regardless of income level or time available, you have something to offer. Maybe you have some winter coats kicking around that don’t fit anyone in your house anymore, or old blankets and towels that you don’t know what to do with. Maybe you’re planning a vegetable garden for the summer and will inevitably wind up with more zucchini than you’ll know what to do with. There are places in your community that would benefit from any of the above. Think outside the box when it comes to how you can help.
Giving Back Can Take Many Shapes
If you’re a business owner or manager, consider implementing a “give-back” program within your company. “Market Street Talent organizes a holiday donation drive each year; in 2016 we collected food to benefit the Seacoast Family Food Pantry,” says Jason. Small commitments like bringing in a toy or food item to donate are an easy way to get started. Jason suggests getting your team involved in an activity like building a house or community building – “You don’t need any experience, and there’s a tangible result at the end. It’s a great way to spend the day out of the office and do some team building too.”
Find the Need
There are many places that don’t have enough funds to get by without volunteer effort or donations. Soup kitchens and shelters need people to sponsor, prepare and serve meals, as well as organize donations. Schools are another option – ask around to find out if you can volunteer to chaperone events, sponsor classroom initiatives, or donate supplies for students. Community centers like the Boys and Girls Club also have lists of items they’re looking for, and hospitals might need volunteers or sponsors for important renovations. Take a look around your community and identify the place(s) you can make an impact with your skills or financial support.
Expand Your Definition of Community
Within your field or industry, there are pockets of need. “Market Street once sponsored a STEM classroom in an underprivileged area,” recalls Jason. “That was a great way to make an impact through something related to our business.” Contributing to your community doesn’t have to mean focusing on something nearby. Take a look at what kind of outreach programs exist in your industry. Chances are good that you’ll find something to get involved in.
Another great way to make an impact in your community is to patronize local businesses. According to the Civic Economics of Retail, $68 out of every $100 spent at a locally owned business will stay in the community. The same $100 purchase at a national chain will only yield $43 to the community. “If you buy a coffee every day, buy it from your local barista two or three times a week,” suggests Jason. You don’t have to commit to buying everything from local businesses, but you can probably redirect some of your frequent purchases to places in your neighborhood. Boosting the local economy is a great way to support the community you live in.
What’s in it for Me?
If scoring some good karma and helping others isn’t enough for you, don’t underestimate the power of putting volunteer work on your resume. Jason recalls hearing a story about a man who gave himself a competitive edge in an interview process by highlighting management experience he had gained through a long-term volunteer project. Volunteering shows initiative, patience and a strong moral compass.
Make it a Priority
“Almost everyone will say they wish they did more, helped more, made more of a difference,” Jason says. “Take the opportunity when it’s in front of you because you won’t regret it.” Get out in your neighborhood, town, or city and take a look around. There are places you can make a difference and have a direct impact on how successful your community becomes. Don’t pass up a chance to be part of something bigger than yourself!
Sources: Civic Economics of Retail – http://www.civiceconomics.com/retail.html