Form a Team to Walk for a Good Cause

NJ MET, Inc. supports the by participating in two of its walks a year. In the spring, we walk in the Manhattan March for Babies and in the fall, we walk in the New Jersey Bark for Babies in Bloomfield.

Both of the events are a great way to spend relaxed time with fellow employees. Everyone has a good time at the walks and knows that they are contributing to a great organization.
To organize a team from your company, register your team with the organization and start publicizing it about two months before the event, providing a registration address. (It could be either the organizations official website or a designated employee.) Encourage participation by periodic announcements, testimonials from past participants, etc. You could even provide refreshments at the event. Make sure to take pictures at the event and post them at the office afterwards.

Click here to read an account of our usual day as part of the Manhattan walk.

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Sponsor a Local Scholarship

Sponsoring a local scholarship for a graduating high school seniors is great way to do good and also get some positive notice for your company. Your local high schools are usually eager to work with you. The college guidance office is often the place to start.

Before contacting the school think about the following

  1. Money – how much do you want to give each year?
  2. Define local – it is simplest to work with one local high school. In our case we wanted to reach a broader area so we work with three different high schools. Rather than deal with the complications of working with different institutions, we rotate the scholarship among the schools, offering it at each school once every three years.
  3. What area of study or activity do you want to promote. NJ MET is an electronic component testing company so it makes sense to for us to give the scholarship to a student who excels in STEM (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) and will be pursuing a college degree in a STEM field.
  4. Who is eligible – is this only for graduates going to college? Are technical schools also included?
  5. How involved do you want to be in choosing the winner? Perhaps you want the school to handle the entire process of choosing a winner. Or maybe you want to establish an essay content and you choose the winner in cooperation with the school. Keep in mind that essay contents take time, you have to read all of them and create a rubric for rating them. Essays also take time for the applicants. If you create a scholarship with a complicated essay and a low dollar amount, you will likely not attract many candidates.
  6. Do you want to create a photo opportunity of you presenting the award to the winner? The photo helps gain exposure if local publications list the awardee.

If you want to take the cost of the scholarship as a deduction, consult your accountant or tax lawyer for advice.

Running a Charity Drive in the Office

At NJMET, we run a number of charity drives during the year.  We have found it best to link these drives to specific holiday seasons.  We run a food drive in the weeks before Thanksgiving and a toy drive during December.    We also run drives to donate personal care items and candy during the winter and early spring.

We’ve learned some keys to success in running these drives, namely:

  • Pick a local organization to be the beneficiary of the donations.
  • Invite your employees, clients, vendors, and neighbors to participate by publicizing the drive using signs around the office and e-mail messages.
  • Restrict the collection time to a week or two at most.

You can find more information on running a successful drive on many sites on the Web.  On of them,  MEND’s website, has plans for both food drives and toy drives that can be adapted for any type of drive.

Here are links to information about some of our recent drives:

Annual Thanksgiving Drive for Eva’s Kitchen and The Oasis Haven for Women and Children of Paterson, NJ

Continuing Support for Sri Lankan Refugees 

Foster Office Camaraderie by Sponsoring Event Teams

One way to foster camaraderie in the office while doing good for the community is to sponsor a team in a large charity event. At NJ MET, we have walked in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies for the last 12 years as well as participated in the annual Jimmy Fund walks. Our employees are proud to be part of Team NJ MET at these events. We also encourage our vendors and customers as well as our neighbors in Clifton to join the team.

Participation in these events gives employees time to share a common interest and relate to customers and each other in a more relaxed atmosphere.

To increase employee interest, you can have a group of employees select the charity event to participate in and also design T-shirts to be worn at the event.

Don’t forget to take pictures at the event and post them in the office!

In-kind giving helps both charity and contributing corporation

In-kind giving is an often overlook form of corporate charitable giving.   A recent article in Forbes highlights a successful corporate giving program at Vans.

In their own words, Van describes itself as “Off the Wall Since 1966, is an iconic, Southern California-based, youth culture brand and the original action sports footwear company.” Their in-kind program, the Custom Culture contest, began with a single contribution of shoes to a teacher to decorate. The art competition, centered around customizing blank Vans sneakers, now involves over 200 high schools, a Final Event in New York City and a $50,000 prize to the winning school.

As the Forbes article states: “Aside from the obvious benefits to nonprofits, there are so many reasons for businesses to leverage the advantages of gifts in kind, from the impressive tax deductions that accompany these forms of giving – with even greater tax benefits for companies than donating cash – to the very real potential for increased employee engagement, recruitment and retention.” Charity As Art: Vans Makes Philanthropy Cool

For Vans, it was easier than for many other companies to find a natural tie between their brand and charitable work.   Van’s youthful corporate culture,  sports shoe product, and emphasis on artistic expression is a perfect fit for a competition for high school students focusing on art, music, action sports and street culture.

As Forbes points out, “you don’t need to be a hip brand to engage your employees around giving back. Any company would be well served to find vehicles for employee engagement as perfect for its mission as Custom Culture is for Vans.”

At my company, NJMET, we have created a number of successful opportunities for employees to participate in corporate philanthropy.  (Check out some of our activities in NJ MET in the News on our website.)   We don’t see a natural tie-in between what NJMET does – testing electronic components – and an in-kind program.  Don’t let this discourage you, though. Take a few moments to read the Forbes article on Vans. Perhaps it will inspire you to find that perfect in-kind program the does good while promoting your brand.  You can start small, as Vans did, and let the program grow naturally.

Don’t keep company philanthropy a secret

Don’t keep it a secret… When your company participates in charitable events organized by local or national non-profits, let people know.  In the best case scenario, it will lead to others following your lead and, possibly, additional unplanned positive media coverage.

This happened at NJ MET recently when I was interviewed by NJBiz, a New Jersey business publication and website.  The story was a positive profile on NJ MET’s philanthropy and our work in detecting possible counterfeit electronic components. The headline of the article: “NJMET Feels It Profits Most from Its Philanthropy” highlighted our charitable efforts, but the article covered both our core mission and our charitable work.  It was a big plus for NJ MET.

How did NJBiz know about our charitable efforts? I don’t know for certain but assume that our own public relations played a role.

The article was a triple win.  Being recognized in the press for our charitable efforts, raised awareness of the charities we were helping and it improved morale among our staff.  In addition, it was an opportunity to talk about our electronic component testing services and consulting work that are important to both our clients and our corporate brand.

Sri Lanka Aid Started with a Small Gesture

NJ MET’s annual drives to aid people in Sri Lanka began over six years ago with an small personal gesture of gathering some toiletries and packaged items from my travels. Now NJ MET’s staff and clients send over 75 pounds of clothes, pencils, notebooks, and toiletries to Sri Lanka each year.

Residents of Sri Lanka suffered a devastating tsunami in 2004 and have struggled through over 20 years of civil war. The aid is sent to the Religious Sisters of Charity who distribute the items personally.  This way we know the items reach individuals and families.  Plus, we can receive feedback on what works and what doesn’t work.  Last year we added some candy and now –based on the response from Sri Lanka — it has become a regular part of the drive.

We are considering adding a mini toy drive to the candy drive.  Also, I am planning on personally delivering one of our shipments of supplies to Sri Lanka sometime in the next few years.

If you are in the northern New Jersey area and would like to contribute supplies, please drop them by the NJ MET office at 1240 Main Avenue in Clifton, NJ.  If you have any questions about the drive, please give me a call at NJ MET (973) 546-5393.

To read more about NJ MET’s efforts in Sri Lanka read this profile on NorthJersey.com: Wayne resident combines big heart with a faith to help others less fortunate.  For more information about NJ MET’s charitable activities, click here.