A Twisted Thanksgiving: 5 Ways to Get Your Giving On!

English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

English: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Resized, renamed, and cropped version of File:Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey, I knew there would be a barrage of posts and blogs this time of year touting how thankful someone is for every precious thing – and rightfully so – but I thought it might be an interesting twist to think about the other half of ThanksGIVING. Yeah, folks, the giving part.

Sure we are all full of thanks. I am, too. I can’t begin to tell you the boatload of incredible moments I am thankful for – I prefer that to being thankful for ‘things,’ by the way. Which I am – I mean I sure do like the new things I was able to get for my new house – but when it comes right down to it, it is the memories, the relationships, the moments that we’re really thankful for, isn’t it? Experiences make a difference in everyday life, and work life, too.

So enough about being thankful. Let’s move on to giving and take it up a notch or two on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Here’s what I – oh one of periodic, momentary infinite wisdom (okay, yeah, I’m LOL with you) – want to tell the world, and particularly business about GIVING this Thanksgiving.

  1. Giving starts at home. We learn from our family unit what it means to give. On the job, your employees and leadership are like one big family. (I know, some of you think that is a stretch but you sure spend a lot of time together. And I bet you’d find the bratty little sister, bully brother, overly huggy auntie, distant weirdo uncle … etc., etc. at any work ‘family’ gathering, but I digress). The point is show by example. Big business, little biz. It doesn’t matter. Start a tradition of being a giving role model for your community and for your employees.
  2. Giving doesn’t always mean money. Sure, we all like it. Employees love that bonus money any time it makes its way past the taxman. But studies have shown (I read that somewhere) that the glow of getting money is very soon forgotten. (That is, as long as you have enough to meet your basic needs). Revisit Maslow’s Theory. What we all want is to be respected, to be included, to be acknowledged for the work we do. Figure out what you can give that will be more or at the very least as valued as cash.
  3. Look to Millennials for inspiration. It is so true that the impact of a small deed on one person may have exponentially greater impact than you will ever know, but as a business you should be thinking biggest impact ever! How innovative can your business be? What can you give – (talent, resources, connections, to name a few) to address an issue that needs attention? Will you start a new collaboration for greater impact? The Millennial generation already gets that – hence the growth of so many social media platforms for collaborative giving. What do they know that you don’t know? How to be innovative and respond to a spark that can start a fire for a cause!
  4. Figure out why you give. As a former corporate Foundation administrator, I will always remember being barraged once by an employee who wanted to tell me why he didn’t want any part of a certain annual giving campaign. My answer? Everyone has different passions, different interests and different reasons to give (or not). It is up to each of us to know what that means for us, personally, while respecting the decisions of others. As a business, you also need to know what makes sense for your company. And company giving absolutely must match your passion for business. Huh? Business is in the business to make money. Yes. And giving can in the long-term enhance your business prospects – and in the short-term enhance your tax write-off. (And thank goodness, most businesses know it is way more than being about the write-off!) But if your company giving doesn’t match in some way to the business you are in – whether it is supporting aligned causes, laying the groundwork for future employees or customers, keeping current ones engaged or meeting a major need where you are based – then you are throwing away a valuable part of the giving equation. For it is an equation of equal value (albeit not always readily apparent) but equal for the business and the recipient.
  5. Don’t shout it from the Mountaintop. That may seem odd for a public relations pro to say.  After all, it is often my job to help business’ tell their stories and a story of good deeds is a nice warm & fuzzy. But there is a time and place for everything and there’s a fine line between doing good and exploiting. Generally speaking (and there are exceptions), don’t jump on the bandwagon of announcing your latest donation to the pot that everyone else is filling. Or at least, be the one to start a new pot. But don’t shout it out from the Mountaintop. If your reasons are valid, the echo will shout it out for you.

And with that, I am off to GIVE to the terrific people who have made a difference in my business and my world this year. And yeah, I will thank them, too.

What will you be doing this ThanksGIVING? I’d love to hear.

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About csrtrans

President/Senior Consultant & Global PR professional. CSR Transformations, Ltd. offers a consortium of independent consultants from around the world providing contracted expertise in Communications, Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility.
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