There's a wide range of ways you can support charitable activities. For example, you could allow all employees a day or an afternoon off the job to work in community service or political campaigns, as they do at D.D.B. Needham Worldwide, the New York-based advertising agency. At McCormick & Company Inc., Sparks, Md., employees are encouraged to work one Saturday each year, designated as “Charity Day,” where they donate their pay at time and a half to a charity and the company matches their earnings. More than 90 percent of employees participate.
It Begins at Home
Saskatchewan Telecommunications in Canada raffles merchandise prizes to employees or others and places the proceeds into a “Help Our Own People” fund for employees who need special medical attention. Many employees have made use of the fund, which raised $23,000 in its first year.
VeriFone, a credit-card transaction systems manufacturer in Redwood City, Calif., has the VeriGift program, through which employees can donate unneeded vacation time to a vacation bank. The time is distributed to employees who are experiencing personal hardships and have exhausted their own leave.
Cash Also Works
Some charities depend upon donations for the bulk of their budget. At Lee Co., Merriam, Kan., employees can “buy” the right to wear jeans to work for $5. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to benefit breast cancer research. At The Thomson Corp., Stamford, Conn., employees are nominated, and the winning employees get money donated to a cause of their choice.
The Levi Strauss Foundation, San Francisco, donates $500 to community organizations in which an employee actively participates for a year. If you serve on the board of a nonprofit organization, the company will give that organization a grant of $500 if the organization has a budget of up to $100,000, and up to $1,500 for budgets of more than $1 million.
Recognition Is What Counts
At Atlantic Richfield Co., Los Angeles, annual community service awards are given to employees who have made outstanding contributions in the community, and the company matches, on a two-for-one basis, any employee or retiree donation to a social service organization.
The Thurston-Dupar Inspirational Award is given by each Westin Hotel for employees who have not only excelled in their jobs but also made important contributions in community service. A companywide winner receives a two-week, expense-paid vacation for two at a Westin hotel and $1,000 in cash, plus airfare and expenses to attend the company's annual management conference.
Dedicated People for Dedicated Causes
Timberland, Stratham, N.H., takes pride in its Passive Service Sabbatical Program. Employees canfor six months with a nonprofit organization of their choice, with Timberland paying their salary during that time. One employee went to work in an orphanage in Peru.
Xerox, Stamford, Conn., has a sabbatical program that allows several employees a year to take paid leave and work for charitable organizations. Customer service engineer William Lankford spent 10 months building homes for Habitat for Humanity in the woods of southern Maryland.
“People often come back with skills that they didn't even know they had,” says Joseph M. Cahalan, head of the Xerox Foundation, which runs the program.
“The bottom-line impact is probably impossible to measure, but I believe it helps us retain and attract better people.”
Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc.; a frequent presenter to management teams and conferences; and a best-selling author of several books, including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and The Management Bible.