Companies: It’s the new year and a great time to think about giving back.

Last year presented unique challenges for all. As a result, maybe you weren’t able to organize your traditional volunteering activities last fall and want to make up for it. Maybe you have new goals for 2021 that you want to achieve, or you accomplished great things as a workplace community and want to build on that success during the year ahead. Any way you look at it, if your company wants to start the year off on a fresh, positive note and help employees connect with each other, you’ve come to the right place.

Global Impact helps inspire greater giving and promote workplace engagement by connecting international charities, like United Mission for Relief and Development (UMR), to companies that want to give back. UMR’s mission is to provide disaster relief and recovery for underserved communities here in the U.S. and around the world. As a result of the pandemic, the needs are greater than ever, and the charity’s work in health, food security, child protection and more is especially critical right now.

UMR understands that individual actions have the power to collectively change the world – with that in mind, it created the COVID-19 Community Response Toolkit.

This toolkit is a perfect resource to help individuals or groups looking to give back get started – and that includes companies and their employees. It offers guidelines for staying safe while volunteering during the pandemic and lays out these steps for how to get involved:

  1. Start with your family.
  2. Identify the needs.
  3. Build your network.
  4. Begin planning.
  5. Support each other (my personal favorite).

Each step includes a list of ways to accomplish its set goal. For example, Step 5 recommends various areas to consider supporting others – like providing childcare, cleaning supplies, emotional support, food and more.

I found the list of action items from step 5 particularly helpful because, in my experience, it’s easy to want to help but harder to choose the right place to start. Having a list helps you begin the decision-making process in a way that maximizes all of the skill sets of your employees or colleagues.

Using UMR’s ideas and Global Impact’s experience designing employee engagement opportunities, here are a couple of ways your team can get involved on a local, national or international level:

  • Send out meals. Organize a group of employees to deliver meals or send gift cards for food to parents who are balancing remote learning and working from home.
  • Provide translation services. Do you have any employees who know multiple languages? Help connect them with organizations that could use help with verbal or written translations.
  • Establish a mentorship program. Partner up with a local school or university to provide mentoring opportunities for young people needing help with resumes and job applications.
  • Run a donation drive. Maybe your employees want to get an early start on spring cleaning! Organize a socially-distanced donation pick-up or drop-off to get supplies to local shelters.
  • Host a virtual walk. Invite your teams to vote on a cause they care about and organize a fundraising walk for it.
  • Pro bono services. Help out a nonprofit by providing pro bono services and resources they need to support the causes that fit your company’s mission.

Reach out to our team to get some of these ideas up and running or for help planning other ways to get involved!

Case study: Partnerships
To support volunteerism, UMR established partnerships with community organizations in Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Virginia and New Jersey. Just one example of the COVID-19 Community Response Toolkit in action is a local partnership between UMR and the YMCA in Alexandria, Virginia.

After learning that the local YMCA would be hosting a food drive for families struggling in the area, UMR stepped in and offered to help. Through the financial support of UMR donors, families were provided with food staples such as sugar, vegetable oil, pasta and pasta sauce, bread, and more.

This kind of event is just one of many that can be easily adapted into a workplace environment, and UMR has made a point to continue evolving their volunteer opportunities as needs and possibilities shift with the pandemic. In other words: Your company can do this, too. Global Impact and UMR can work with your leadership to design an engagement opportunity like the YMCA involvement that’s safe, fun and really rooted in the needs of your company’s broader community.

This toolkit is also a great opportunity if you’re a federal employee. It’s the last week of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and many generous donors have already pledged to give time or money to causes they care about. UMR (CFC #66429) is one of the many CFC charities that accepts both financial and volunteer pledges as a part of its campaign.

Once you pledge to volunteer through the CFC (or if you already have!), this toolkit is a great place to start your giving journey!

Looking for more ways to get involved with your community? Check out our Virtual Employee Giving Hub for access to more employee engagement opportunities, or contact us for help planning your own event.