Holiday Giving Guide: Five Ways To Give Back To Your Community And Strengthen Your Team

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November ushers in the beginning of a very familiar season. On top of turkeys, treats, and together time, the holidays also ignite an undeniable spirit of giving. Volunteers ring bells at shop entrances, tear-jerking videos pop up on our social feeds, countless appeals are sent through the mail, and individuals everywhere are looking for ways to give back to their community. And while community service may seem like an individual decision, it’s actually proven to boost engagement with your employees and improve your work environment. 

As companies continue to offer unique incentives to appeal to new employees, and younger generations place increased priority on purpose over money, businesses need to find new ways to attract and retain quality staff. To leverage this as a tool, it’s important to promote an office culture that values, supports, and promotes regular employee engagement in your community (and demonstrates the same commitment from the top down).

Nearly 90 percent of companies in a Boston College study found a positive correlation between volunteer participation and employee engagement (2015). Employers that can create an environment where employees feel engaged benefit from:

  • A positive work culture,
  • Reduced staff turnover,
  • Increased productivity,
  • Ability to attract local talent, and
  • Improved company profits.

It’s easy to see why companies seek ways to give their staff a greater sense of purpose and personal pride in their daily duties to increase overall job satisfaction. But on top of the obvious labor-related benefits, community involvement can also help your business:

  • Increase brand awareness,
  • Establish trust with your community,
  • Build alliances with other local businesses, and
  • Form better customer relationships.

Whatever your reason for giving back this holiday season, you can find a way to get involved that works for your facility, and there’s no time like the present for your team to dive in. Here are some easy options to consider and a few tips from self-storage operators who’ve successfully integrated charitable programs into their daily storage operations.

  1. Donate to a charity. The easiest and most straightforward way to give back to your community is just that—give. And there are many ways to do it. Find a roundup program (or partner with a charity to launch one) and ask customers to round up their purchase or add a donation to their total transaction. Allocate certain tenant fees or business profits (i.e. private auction sales) to a local cause or look for annual and/or one-time programs you can sponsor.  

Most causes, like Charity Storage, offer the community multiple ways to give back. Unrestricted funds are often among their greatest needs, and every cent counts. The key when launching any giving program: choosing a cause your employees care about. 

  1. Volunteer. Think you’re the only one facing staffing shortages? Many nonprofits need man hours to make their programs possible, from hands-on to behind-the-scenes tasks. Choose a cause or community event that your team wants to support or start asking around to see who’s in need. Plan a day, afternoon, or a couple hours to gather as a team and give your time to a local non-profit. Many charities have projects on standby and would welcome the help to make them a reality. Connect with your local Habitat for Humanity, food bank, or search your chamber of commerce to find a local cause that calls to you. Just be sure to reach out in advance to ensure the organization can accommodate a group your size and is prepared for your group the day you plan to volunteer; that way you can make the most of everyone’s time. 
  1. Host a donation drive. Leverage your strengths as a business when looking for a way to give back. One of the big benefits of a self-storage facility is your access to members of the community, along with an abundance of space. Host a donation drive to collect critical items for a local shelter, food bank, or school, or gather unwanted items from tenants and other community members to auction and raise funds on behalf of a charity of your choice. Whether you dedicate a box in your front office or an entire storage unit, it’s easy for managers to ask customers to donate during their daily routine.   

Tip: If you host your donation drive in partnership with a non-profit, see if donations from tenants and community members can be considered tax-deductible. For instance, facilities that collect items through Charity Storage can offer a tax donation receipt. 

Lisa Barth-Chiapetta, owner of Barth Storage, which proudly supports the Shalom Center homeless shelter, shared why community giving is central to her business:

“We care about the community because the community is what made our business and kept us successful over the years. And it inspires our employees to be engaged, energized, and provide the ultimate customer experience.” 

Barth Self Storage has collected unneeded items at their facility to support families in its local community for years. Here are their top three tips for success if you host a donation drive this giving season: 

  1. Make sure your employees know about it and bring enthusiasm to the program. 
  2. When someone is moving out and has unwanted items, your managers can help guide them to donate by telling them all about the program.
  3. Branding is the best thing to engage customers in your giving program. Make sure to have signage near doors and elevators for customers to read and learn about Charity Storage.
  1. Promote a cause. Again, success is all about leveraging your strengths. Your facility is a central community hub that has access to a widespread, captured audience with individuals from all walks of life. Lend that exposure to a cause and help extend their reach. Whether you post flyers at your facility, email your tenants, or post and share to your social media, your platforms can help a nonprofit spread awareness about their cause, reach more donors, and increase the impact of their efforts.

Kari Kaltenborn, president of Kaltenborn Enterprises & Rancho Storage Center, which proudly supports My Friends’ Place teen shelter, shares one way she leverages community engagement to enhance her operations:

“Managers and employees are running the facilities and overseeing day-to-day operations, so we really try to think of ways to make them happy, feel valued, and feel like they are a part of the organization. If your employees are happy in the company, then they will provide better customer service to the tenants.” 

Bonus: Cause marketing can have added benefits for your business too. 

Kaltenborn also shared one of the added benefits of company-sponsored community engagement:

“Marketing has changed. Over the last several years, people are paying a lot more attention to what companies represent and who they support to see whether their beliefs and ideals align. Being involved in the community, whether it’s the chamber of commerce or Charity Storage, really helps communicate how a company wants to be viewed by the community.”

Her top tips for success:

  • Focus on something in which your managers are interested.
  • Get your managers and team on board with the program since they will promote it in your offices.
  • Establish ground rules for what can and can’t be donated (if hosting a drive or auction) and post your program clearly for tenants to see.
  1. Adopt a family/nonprofit/cause. Uncover what matters most to your team this holiday season and make your support official. Whatever you do, whoever you support, what’s import is that you do it together. Keep it simple and partner with your local Salvation Army to adopt a family; get your whole team (and maybe your tenants) involved in putting together your package. 

If you want to take it up a notch, find a local non-profit or national cause that holds personal significance for your team and make them your official “charity of choice.” Start planning all the ways your facility can support their efforts (Hint: Start with one of the ideas above.) and consider sending them an official notification. A great time to alert them to your support is with your first donation to their cause (or offer to volunteer). Ask them where they most need support and look for ways that can naturally fit into your daily operations. 

If you want to give back this holiday season and need help getting started, contact Charity Storage today at (844) 945-3387 or info@charitystorage.org. 

About Charity Storage

Charity Storage was conceived by Lance Watkins, who had firsthand experience with the storage industry and the reality television show “Storage Wars.” The late Barry Hoeven co-founded Charity Storage, bringing many years of self-storage and philanthropy experience to the endeavor.

Donated and abandoned items are placed into a vacant unit and the contents are auctioned off on site or online, via StorageTreasures.com or other online auction platforms. The proceeds support charities throughout the United States. Learn more at www.charitystorage.org.
Mario Macaluso is a founding member of the SBOA Tenant Insurance program. He’s also the founder of Best Self Storage Insurance, LLC. He volunteers his time as a board member and the program manager for Charity Storage.

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