Giving Together: Community Service and Team-Building Ideas to Help You Give Back

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When business leaders achieve success, it’s fair to say their community, and the world at large, begins to hold them to higher standards.

Conventional wisdom tells us that those with the means to do so have a moral obligation to make their corner of the world a better place.

The thing is, these acts of charity and civic duty are often kept in the dark.

Sometimes, that’s a fine thing, as when America’s wealthy silently donate to worthy causes in order to keep the spotlight on the issue and not on the donor.

Related Article: Turning the Ship Around: A Guide to Changing Workplace Culture

However, we’re here today to talk about another kind of giving: the kind that’s big, loud and has a tendency to grab the attention of entire communities. It starts with the small business.

Locally owned and operated businesses everywhere are discovering that giving back to the community can be the very best kind of team-building exercise: the kind that fosters a deep commitment to civic pride and helps bring people together in new ways.

So where to begin? Here’s a handful of ideas to get you started on your next team-building activity. Hopefully you’ll find something here that inspires you.

Supporting American Troops

I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the line modern culture became synonymous with built-in obsolescence. We have a tendency to shed cell phones like dead skin cells, ready to pick up the next big thing the day it’s released.

For thousands of Americans living and fighting overseas, cell phones are not something easily taken for granted. That’s why great charities like ReCellular and Cell Phones for Soldiers have been helping companies and individuals everywhere donate their gently used cell phones to a great cause.

Each time a cell phone is donated, its monetary value is put to use purchasing prepaid phone cards that are then distributed among America’s servicemen and women. From there, they can place those all-important phone calls to their friends and loved ones back in the States.

You can check your area for a cell phone donation bin, and encourage everyone in your company to donate their old phones to a worthy cause instead of throwing them away.

Creating Opportunity in Faraway Lands

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Americans are, by and large, good people, but living in a land of opportunity can cause us to see the rest of the world through rose-colored glasses.

That’s why the plight of under- and uneducated children in developing countries goes overlooked so much of the time, but remains of vital importance to the future of our planet. According to Free the Children, more than 60 million children worldwide are totally without educational opportunities.

If you’re looking for a worthy cause for your company to throw itself behind, it doesn’t get much better than this. Free the Children, along with other charities like Pencils of Promise, have made it their life’s work to bring education and opportunity to poor or war-torn countries like Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. Pencils of Promise alone has built more than 322 schools since 2009.

To get your company involved, consider taking up a collection on a regular basis, or go one step further and pledge company profits directly to the cause. You can tie these donations to companywide goals, or reward individual departments who go above and beyond with a donation made in their names.

Tackling the Housing Crisis

According to Habitat for Humanity, more than 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing. This can include run-down shacks in developing countries, the space under highway overpasses or emergency shelters. This is a big problem even in America, where in 2013, more than 600,000 people were homeless.

It’s a problem that we’ve all trained ourselves to overlook. Luckily, the aforementioned Habitat for Humanity has become one of the leading voices when it comes to eliminating poverty housing and rampant homelessness.

Like most of the causes we’ve talked about, you can give to this one in a way that suits your company, your employees and your values. You can help the homeless at home or abroad by giving to, or volunteering with, Habitat for Humanity, or any of the dozens of other charities in your area.

Or, if you prefer a more spiritual approach, organizations like ABWE have proven that nothing brings communities together like a faith-based approach to charity.

However you choose to tackle it, it’s clear this is one cause that’s well worth our time and attention. You can inspire your team to get involved today by sponsoring mission trips. They’ll return full of stories, plus a new perspective for everyone at the company to share.

Related Article: Smiles Are Free: How a Positive Business Culture Inspires Employees

Corporate Philanthropy

By now we’ve gotten just a small look at the many problems our species still faces, even in these heady and unprecedented modern times. It goes to show that anything we take for granted in our daily lives is something that somebody, somewhere in the world, is trying to learn to live without.

Giving back to the world on your own is a wonderful way to spend your time and resources, but giving back as part of a community is so much more rewarding. If you’ve been thinking about getting your business involved with corporate philanthropy, there’s never been a better time to ask yourself: How can I help the world today?

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