The holidays aren’t just about stuffing your face and filling your wish list. This time of year serves as the perfect opportunity to not only give back to your community, but bond with the colleagues you spend most of your time with. Whether it’s club members or fellow company reps, there’s nothing like bonding with your team in a new setting, and for a great cause.
If you’re looking to organize a fundraiser, donate to a charity, or get involved in some facet of service for the season, we’ve got you covered! Check out our giving-back guide below.
Organize a donation drive
Dress for Success accepts apparel and accessories for women, ideally: business suits in new or near-perfect condition, professional shoes, unused cosmetics, as well as jewelry and handbags. Providing attire will help women not only “look the part,” but take the first step in securing a place in the professional world. You can find out more information here.
New York Cares proposes that with just $20, you could keep one neighbor warm. Well, imagine how many people you could help this upcoming winter by holding a coat drive with your team! Register here to claim your spot and help donate coats to people that need it the most, especially as the temperature begins to drop.
City Harvest urges you not to waste food, and is planted in tons of locations to ensure you and your colleagues are within distance of a drop-off place. Better yet, if your team isn’t sure how to go about collecting non-perishables and the like, they created this awesome digital tool-kit that you can utilize. Check it out, and learn more about hosting a drive here.
Food Bank NYC encourages groups to distribute, serve, and share food to end world hunger. They’ll also customize, design, and execute your engagement experience for a reasonable sponsorship fee — the perfect set-up for a team-building retreat! Check out their volunteer engagement guide and learn more about what you and your crew can do here.
Reading Partners provides libraries with gently used books for their students. In turn, you can provide the reading material by hosting your own drive for books. They accept books ranging from Kindergarten to fourth grade, with a range of genres. Everyone either has a sibling, child, or box in the attic that has the means (aka a few neglected books) to supply another child (or a school of them!) Follow the guidelines here for hosting a drive at your local office or community.
One Simple Wish grants many wishes, in simple ways that your company or group can decide on. They provide brand new toys, clothing, personal care items, school supplies, games, and more for kids in foster care. You can host a drive to collect these items, or alternatively, sponsor a wish party! Learn more details on how to do either (or both!) here.
Volunteers of America invites residents of the New York area to give back a multitude of ways, but during this season, it calls for the Holiday Gifts Toy Drive. Give back to children in homeless and domestic violence shelters in NYC by not only donating requested “Secret Santa” gifts, but by being a part of “Sort Week” when they pack and distribute the gifts to children. Get the full scoop on this project and others here.
Try these team-building activities
All Hands Volunteers gives you the opportunity to join forces with other changemakers, aside from the ones you usually collaborate with. The organization provides hands-on assistance to natural disaster survivors from around the world, and you can too. Learn more about taking a trip and making positive change here.
Habitat for Humanity is well known, and with good reason. By building quality homes for families in need and raising awareness for affordable housing, you can contribute to the greater good by getting your organization involved in a corporate volunteering program. Get involved here.
Only Make Believe believes that volunteers are the core of their various volunteer activities. They’ll work with you to create costumes and supplies for the kids at various performances. You can also transform your office or team setting into a costume workshop, or decorate a hospital room as a setting for an actual show. You’ll have a blast transforming rooms and boosting kid’s imaginations as your boost your team’s morale. More details on how to here.
The Hope Program beckons professionals to help transform lives by partaking in the Interview Project. By providing interviewing opportunities and feedback sessions to job-seekers, you not only give nearly 20 of your colleagues a chance to interview and pave the way for the job-seeking process, but get to revel in knowing that your input will lead standout candidates to an interview – and possibly, a career! Take the first step in doing so here.
Ronald McDonald House allows a max of 20 participants to assist with whatever needs to be done for the day. This is great for organizations big and small, because either way, you’ll be broken off into groups to complete projects, like cleaning, stocking, hosting drives, etc. It’ll give you a chance to create more meaningful relationships with your colleagues, as you create a more welcoming, cleaner space for tenants. Go here to contact an affiliate about scheduling a date.
St. Jude’s Research Hospital provides ample opportunity to help children with cancer, by providing tons of interactive ways to do so. From fitness challenges and sports tournaments, to pancake breakfasts and bake sales, there’s tons of fun and tasty ways to for employees to band together, and benefit kids in need. Take your pick of which activity you’d like to partake and raise donations through here.
Share your experience with others
Volunteer New York hits the nail on the head by proclaiming that it’s easy for companies to develop outreach efforts and enhance branded community initiatives. Not only do they highlight the importance of allowing and mobilizing employees to serve, but they suggest increasing market invisibility by planning custom days of services. Learn how their experts can assist you and your employer here.
Young Audiences New York has a super-involved staff that are readily available to help you coach through tons of youth and family-oriented activities. You can mentor students through a digital storytelling assignment, host an evening of art, facilitate a tour and educational talk at your company, and more. You’ll help youth and families pioneer an appreciation of the arts, and foster creativity at work (or anyplace really). Click here for additional resources on program opportunities.
Covenant House New York knows the value of your expertise, and wants you (and your team!) to share it with their youth. Their Job Readiness Orientation will let you assist in a multitude of ways, whether it be providing feedback in mock interviews, or hosting a career panel discussion. Click here to learn more, or to see what other activities your company can engage in.
New York Restoration Project coined “Seasons of Service,” which allows you to care for trees, maintain parks, plant new life, and more. Best of all, not only do you get to help the environment, but NYRP takes the lead on your volunteering experience – they pick the location, supply the equipment, and will give you the tools and training you need. They offer corporate partners tons of benefits in terms of employee engagement and employer visibility, so you’ll definitely want to learn more about receiving recognition as a team – the perfect way to not only celebrate your volunteering success, but show the importance of coming together for a great cause. Read more about getting involved here.
RaisedByUs prompts you to reconsider how you’re spending your paycheck. Instead of wasting money on material items that you don’t necessarily need (like new figurines for your desk, or yet another phone case to add to your collection), enlist your colleagues to donate a portion of their paycheck to a cause of their choice! It’s a great giving program if you can’t collectively decide how you want to volunteer your time, sources, or funds — which is probably why Contently, VaynerMedia, FourSquare, Birchbox, MIC, Thrillist, and more have had so much success with it! Learn how your company can too here.
What do you do once you’ve volunteered and checked the majority of these items off your list? Promote the success of your campaigns and team-bonding to friends, stakeholders, social media accounts, and more! Let the world know how kick-ass your team is, for striving to make the world a better place.
Have a favorite organization to volunteer for, or passionate about a give-back project you’re working on? Share in the comments below!