The holidays are here and while we are thinking about parties, gifts and time-off, it's also a great time to think about giving back. For businesses and individuals, getting involved with your community and giving to good causes provides many rewards and gives credence to the saying, "It's better to give than to receive." Giving back can come in many forms and even small efforts can add up to big results. It's a great way to end the year and can give you a step up on your New Year's resolutions. The giving spirit is something we should embrace all year long, though, and there are a multitude of things we can do that can make a real difference for our community.
Here are some ways businesses and individuals can give back any time of the year:
- Donate money and/or goods. In addition to money (always appreciated), many organizations need help in the form of food, clothing, toys, even office supplies and equipment. Contact the organization of your choice and request their "wish list" and then have some fun holding a jacket, turkey, book, or whatever drive for them.
- Donate time. Time is often the most valuable donation of all. Fund raising events such as a Relay For Life or a charity dinner take hours and hours of planning, coordinating and running the event. If you're not able to make a financial donation, offer to volunteer your time. Look for opportunities that incorporate your own interests and hobbies. Play ball in college? Consider helping out one of the youth sport teams. Schools, charities, senior centers, animal shelters, performing art centers and food pantries are great places to contact.
- Help bring awareness to a cause or event via social media. Have a cause you're particularly invested in? Consider writing a blog about it or posting a mention online. For example, if you're holding a food drive, invite others to participate. Use the social sites to recognize businesses that contribute, too.
- Join a service organization or industry association. Many service organizations and industry associations hold charitable events that are lots of fun in addition to providing much needed funds to local causes.
- Get involved with government at a local level. Running for office can be a huge commitment, but there are many opportunities that don't require a full-time effort. Many committees and agencies need non-elected volunteers and may be a great introduction to local politics.
I've been a senior vice president at CrossCheck, a national check processing company, for over a decade but I am also fortunate to serve the City of Petaluma as a City Councilman. My motivation for joining the council was to get involved with the community I live and work in. Now in my third term on the council, I feel honored to serve the City of Petaluma. I’m also proud to work at company that believes in giving back to the community.
CrossCheck employees donate and volunteer for many community organizations. Our efforts include our annual Turkey Drive for the Council on the Shelterless (COTS), contributing gifts to the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, food drives for the Redwood Empire Food Bank and participating with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life. This year we also raised money to support the Little League World Series efforts of our local Petaluma National All Star team.
Taking an active role in helping out your community and getting involved should be something we do all the time. It's good for business, it's good for our employees, but more importantly, it's the right thing to do. Do you donate or give back to your community? Does your business? Let me know how you're contributing.
Mike Harris is a Senior Vice President for CrossCheck, Inc. and City Councilman for the City of Petaluma. Mike also serves on the Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Airport Commission for the City of Petaluma.