How to Give Well
We’re well into the holiday season, and people are feeling generous. In addition to doing good on your own or with your family, there is a great opportunity to do good through your business. Below are some best practice tips from Braider Melissa Sevy, the founder of Musana, Fair Kind, and Givv, on how your company can effectively engage in social good.
It is common to see companies engage in “pet projects” that may have little to no tie to the products or services that they offer.
A tech company takes a yearly trip to a developing country where employees help build schools. While this may seem like an effective humanitarian project on the surface, the company might be limiting the amount of good that they can do by failing to evaluate their project by asking questions like:
“How will the school be sustained? Who will teach the classes? How will books be funded?” and going even deeper, “Does the community need a school, or are they ok doing classes under the mango tree as they always have?” Additionally, do they need foreigners there to physically build structures for them? Would it be better to provide building materials and then support the local economy by hiring skilled laborers to construct the school instead?
When companies focus on how to make their employees feel good instead of focusing on how to fill actual needs, sometimes their charitable efforts lack lasting impact.
Unfortunately, I have personally seen pet project schools abroad built by well-meaning people left vacant due to some of the complexities mentioned above.
A more effective way to give falls under what we like to call “mission-aligned philanthropy.” This is a way of approaching social good from the perspective of aligning the unique genius and strengths of your company with real needs within a community or non-profit organization. Some good examples of how a company might contribute more effectively include:
- Volunteering: using your unique genius, fill a technology need for a local non-profit organization.
- Supply chain: for a product-based tech company, look into where and how your products are manufactured, and make the switch to an ethical factory that pays fair wages and provides a safe work environment.
- Charitable payroll deductions: frequently, what a non-profit needs more than anything is funding. Consider enrolling your employees in charitable payroll deductions (and matching them!) to raise funds for causes that align with your mission.
Engaging in social good in the workplace can go further than being a feel-good appendage to your business, and instead become a lived expression of your company’s core values. Now may be the perfect time to prepare you and your company to have more impact this coming year.