In 2012, Continuum established the Continuum Veterans Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing financial support to charities focused on helping veterans find jobs in IT. With the season of giving upon us, we’re making our annual commitment to veterans through outreach efforts in our Boston, Pittsburgh, and Houston offices.
What goes into planning these initiatives? How can you inspire employees to participate? To help you launch your own cause, here are six questions to consider:
Who are you supporting? Everything must be central to their needs. If you do not have a philanthropic mission but want to give back, consider what’s missing in your community. Ask around or use a site like Create the Good to find volunteer opportunities nearby.
After identifying the cause, determine the best way to support it without inadvertently competing against other charities. Familiarize yourself with activities occurring simultaneously in your area. Then, carve out your niche.
Continuum is devoted to helping veterans. We asked the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV) how best we could help. They often need winter boots, but rather than interfere with existing efforts, we cemented our own identity with an annual Boot Drive for Veterans.
People think about charity during the holidays. Still, charitable giving doesn’t have to end when the collection bells stop ringing. In determining your cause, pick a time when the calendar isn’t so crowded or space out your activities throughout the year. At Continuum, employees are given Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO) to donate to local veterans organizations anytime. Whatever time, plan it in advance and ensure it’s appropriate for the time of year.
In holding our boot drive at the office, we assessed what employees could carry during their morning commute. To maximize participation, make it easy. Schlepping around heavy bags of canned food wasn’t feasible, but staff could easily tote pairs of boots or buy them at surrounding shops.
Incentivize colleagues by providing ways to contribute that compliment your demographic. If you primarily employ Millennials, for instance, they may not have the financial means to donate large sums. Instead, encourage them to pool their resources with a donation match. Even $5 can make a difference. Alternatively, they can donate time by assisting with gift delivery.
Rather than ordering holiday baskets, donate to your cause in a vendor or supplier’s name. Send greeting cards thanking them for their business, sharing charity details and their gift attribution. Maybe they’ll reciprocate!
Continue to extend your network by engaging in friendly competition with building tenants or other associates, posting on social media and recruiting individuals to champion the cause with loved ones.
Establish Your Goal
Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M.A.R.T.) goals. We aim to collect 100 pairs of gently worn or new men’s and women’s winter boots between November 11 (in honor of Veteran’s Day) and November 30, 2016.
Email blast employees and building tenants, starting with an initial overview of your cause. Be brief, but specific. Provide the necessary details, like dates, time and how people can help. We specified shoe size and the need for function over fashion. Then, follow up with a kickoff day email and regular touches reporting on goal progress. Talk your cause up in email, on social media, in local press or in-person, otherwise, people forget.
Prominent displays like countdown clocks and goal progress thermometers are excellent visual reminders. We’ve had success featuring flyers, leveraging elevator monitors and stationing collection bins in high-traffic areas.
After tireless pleading and exhausting all resources during the final push, unite and celebrate as a team. Send one last email thanking everyone for contributing and reporting the final tally. Recognize those both inside and outside of the company who donated. If any names are unfamiliar, seize this chance to brand your company and build a relationship. They’ll be more apt to donate again next year!
Capture morale by taking and sharing photos and video. Wear company apparel as a show of force. We do this every year to express our company’s commitment to veterans when delivering boots to the NECHV.
“Why?” is the cornerstone to any successful philanthropic campaign. It’s your team’s rally cry. Charity should never be a chore. In order to participate, people need to be passionate about the cause and understand the reasons for contributing.
At Continuum, we’re invested in the welfare of our nation’s veterans and globally united in our pursuit to provide them a better quality of life. This season, we’re also supporting Yellow Ribbon Girls and Treasures for Children in Pennsylvania, as well as Camp Hope in Texas, and Hire Heroes USA in Georgia.