Holiday Giving: Benefits for All

As our children eagerly count down the days until Santa’s arrival, thousands of charities across the country await donations and volunteering that will allow them to continue making a difference in their communities. According to Imagine Canada, over 40 percent of all annual donations happen the last eight weeks of the year. This year, the need is especially great, with plenty of evidence such as a recent study from Canada Helps that overall giving is down while the need is up.

Corporate responsibility is now at the centre of community investment. Imagine Canada also tells us that 10 years ago, only 34 percent of large employers (500+ staff) had written policies to guide their giving. Today, 95 percent do. Amazing, right? But in 2021, small businesses made up 98.1 percent of all employer businesses in Canada. That’s a scale we can’t ignore – and one that can have immense impact, not only for communities, but for employers and their staff as well.

How can small businesses step up when cash is tight? Easy. Financial contributions are not, and never will be, the only means of support for charitable organizations. Small businesses can be more personalized and strategic with their benefits, and there’s nothing I love more than a good strategy – and benefits!

The great news is that corporate giving is emerging as another essential employee benefit: staff increasingly rate a company’s community responsibility up with salary, flexibility, extended health benefits and other traditional perks. When we think about benefits, these days we need to think about how we benefit communities.

Donate Time

You’ve got a workforce and capable hands, and volunteer labour is a huge commodity in the non-profit world. Can you sacrifice 24 hours of company time every few months? Encourage your employees to use company hours to give back to organizations in your community. Your employees get paid their normal wage, but they spend the day working, cooking, building, or otherwise volunteering for a local non-profit.

It’s a win-win-win scenario: employer-supported volunteering has been shown to benefit businesses in ways that can directly improve results. Consistent volunteering is associated with skill development, higher employee retention, higher job performance, and higher job satisfaction.

Ditch the Gift Baskets

I love chocolate as much as anyone, but I promise I will be totally fine not to receive a box of candy or a Poinsettia for the holidays. In fact, receiving a card (physical or digital, yay for the environment!) with warm wishes and a notification that your company has donated to a charity is much more satisfying – and your team will feel great that you did it. Turn those gift baskets into contributions to a food bank or a women’s shelter – it’s a much better use of your generosity!

Make it an Employer Branding Tactic

Earlier this year, we organized a Share the Love campaign where for every Google review we received in the month of February, we’d donate $25 to Hope House. This was an awesome way to generate positive business promotion while encouraging people to give back. Better yet, it paints a perfect picture of the company we are – and the people we want to hire. We received a lot of positive feedback in the process which will only support our growth and sustainability, and in the long run we got to support a wonderful charity in our community. Love was truly shared all around! Read about our Share the Love campaign here.

Let’s ditch the belief that big cheques are the only way to help those in need and remember to give generously this holiday season – any way that you can. In a world where finding and keeping the best people can be challenging, it also gives you an advantage that’s as sweet as the milk and cookies Santa (or his elves… wink) can’t wait to gobble up.

Photo by David-Olivier Gascon on Unsplash