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.

 

 

A source of new fundraising ideas

I have been in charge of charitable giving at our company, NJ MET for more than 20 years.  At our company, like many others, charitable giving is part direct contributions from the company and part employee fundraising.  Our employees are incredibly supportive of our fund raising efforts.  Still, it takes some creativity to keep the staff enthusiastic.

Most of NJMET’s charitable events each year are repeats – we know the work, they take less effort and our staff looks forward to them.  It is important to mix in some new ideas as well, to add a little excitement to the program.

The internet is a great source of ideas for charitable events.  Many corporations and the recipient non-profit organizations list their events on their website.  Some even provide a list of corporate fundraising ideas.  Here is a link to an interesting list of ideas for how corporations can help non-profits, some of which are very creative.  It is from a hospital in Great Britain but most of the ideas can be modified for other countries and other charities.

http://www.stlukeshospice.org.uk/support_us/corp_partnerships/top40ideas

Charity Activities Help All Year Long

Most corporate charitable contributions take place in December.  This is no surprise; it happens for the same reasons personal giving shoots up at the end of the year: holiday inspired giving and the December 31 tax deadline.  Yet, a tax deduction is only one of the benefits of corporate donations.  These donations can also contribute to the company’s overall marketing campaign while boosting employee morale.  Involving employees in the process can also provide an opportunity to increase worker self-confidence and have workers exercise their leadership skills.

Forbes recently published an excellent article on how to use charitable giving to support  marketing plans and boost office morale.  You can find it here:(http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2013/12/18/how-charitable-giving-can-boost-office-morale-while-helping-the-community/).  The suggestions in the article include ideas on choosing the right cause to promote and promoting employee involvement.  The suggestions in the article are all relatively easy to implement at both large and small companies but they do take a little planning.

Don’t wait to make your company donations until next December.  Plan now and maximize the benefits to your company and employees.