8 Tips for Planning a Community Service Event for Your Office
By Jaclyn Hoffman
Your company doesn’t need to save the world in order to attract and retain good employees, but incorporating a social mission can help: according to one report, 45% of employees would take up to a 15% pay cut to work for a company that makes a social or environmental impact.
One easy way to help your employees feel involved and charitable is planning an office-wide community service project. Organizing a volunteering event can not only boost employee engagement and showcase your company culture, but it can also literally add years to your life. Plus, it’s fun! Get your co-workers out of their chairs and involved with the community using some of the tips below!
1. Choose a cause that’s important to your company culture.
Some companies already have a list of charities and community service organizations that they volunteer for and sponsor, but it’s always a good idea to branch out when possible. Poll your coworkers for causes that are important to them. Someone might have ties to an existing organization, which could ease the stress of planning the event. It may also present an opportunity to personalize the event and promote a greater sense of community within your office. For example, if your coworker’s niece is autistic, form a team to participate in her honor at an Autism Speaks Walk. Give back to your neighborhood. Your city might need help cleaning up public spaces, providing meals for the homeless, or rebuilding after a natural disaster. Tailor your office-wide event to your employees or your city to make the day more meaningful.
2. Choose a date that will work for as many employees as possible.
Some larger companies have designated vacation days for community service. If you work at one of those lucky companies, plan for your event to take place on a weekday so the entire company can participate. Look at the calendar for inspiration: why not plan an event to clean up your local park on Earth Day? If your event is slated to take place after work hours or over the weekend, book the day several months in advance and send out reminders periodically to encourage everyone to participate.
3. Gamify your fundraising efforts.
Fundraising is crucial for any event, so incentivize your co-workers to raise money. Offer company swag or freshly baked cookies for certain monetary values raised. Make it a competition between different departments and provide a pizza party for the winners. Fundraising is also an easy way to get every employee involved, since not every employee is likely to make it to the event itself.
4. Save yourself stress by planning the logistics in advance.
As soon as you agree on a cause and a date, make a list of any items that need to be purchased. Think outside the box! If you’re cleaning up your local park, you’ll need gloves and trash bags, but you might also want to provide water bottles or snacks depending on the length of your event. If you’ve booked a venue, take a walk through and make a floor plan of where you’re going to set up different stations. If you’re ordering event swag, design and order your items as soon as you’re able.
Organizing a community service event can also be a way to provide leadership opportunities for volunteers at different levels of your company. Set up a committee and put volunteers in charge of different tasks. With all hands on deck, you’ll be able to breathe easier and enjoy the day!
5. Tap into an existing event.
Planning a community service day from scratch can be time consuming and difficult depending on how much manpower you’re able to devote to it. Consider signing up your team for an existing event instead, be it a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk (October is breast cancer awareness month!) or a time slot at the soup kitchen. Reach out to local schools or community centers – they might have their own events that could use extra hands!
6. Capitalize on your coworkers’ skills.
Every employee has hidden talents, so use them whenever possible! A volunteer from your accounting department can handle tallying fundraising money. Someone who participated as a stage manager for a play in college can take care of the backstage logistics if you have speakers or entertainment lined up. Your cubicle neighbor takes yoga every day, so why not ask her to teach a short class to warm everyone up for your 5k? Many of your coworkers might also have ties to organizations that can donate their services – food, event swag, entertainment.
7. Think outside the box.
If you’re planning a new event from scratch, take a look at the organizations already active in your community. See what types of events they run and what charities they sponsor and see where there might be gaps. Think of new activities you can offer to draw crowds and funding to your event. Remember your yoga-obsessed employee? She can help organize a community activity day to promote a healthy family lifestyle. The more unique your event, the more proprietary it will feel. If your event is successful, run it every year! Your company will build a community-based brand and culture, and your employees will look forward to participating!
8. Design templates to help fundraise and publicize your event.
Write up a quick blurb about the event that can be shared over social media, both on the company’s page and on employee pages. Your coworkers will have no excuse not to be raising money if you’ve done the bulk of the work for them! Design a flyer that can be both printed and shared on Instagram. It’s also a great idea to write a template for thank you notes so you can give a shout out to everyone who’s helped out!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a difference!