Thanksgiving is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to simultaneously thank employees while giving back to the community. Instead of hosting your annual office potluck, dedicate a day before the actual holiday to head out with coworkers to take part in some selfless and charitable thanksgiving ideas.
Giving back to the community will better your employees as individuals—who doesn’t get the warm and fuzzies when you take part in a toy drive? Not to mention, it enhances culture, morale, and unites team members towards a common goal. It does not take a lot of money or time to see the benefits from giving back during the holidays. Get creative, get your team excited to give back, and then get home for the turkey!
Here are 9 unique, fun, and selfless Thanksgiving ideas for companies who would like to give back this holiday.
1. Turkey Trots
As long as weather permits, a number of cities host family-friendly fun runs around Thanksgiving time. Typically referred to as a “Turkey Trot,” family and friends gather for a non-competitive hour of exercise (typically a 5k). All flat fees to enter the run go to charities or non-profits and donations are accepted but not required!
Even if your business has dispersed workers, a turkey trot can still be a great idea! Consider having different offices share pictures, or compete to raise the most amount of money for charity. Find out where the closest turkey trot is to your office, and get the team to sign up!
2. Thanksgiving Charity Baskets
Have your teams sign up to put together baskets for a individuals and families in need on Thanksgiving. Baskets typically include enough food for a family of four, including a turkey and other perishable items, along with decorations, and basic necessities. Find your local shelter online through the Homeless Shelter Directory and spend a day with your team giving back to those in need.
Get extra creative and make some Thanksgiving-inspired crafts to help spark the holiday spirit. Take an hour out of the workday for everyone to get together and package up their goods and baskets. Remote workers can take part by sending in their donations or even crafting their own basket!
3. Support the Troops
Don’t let the troops have a thanksgiving without smiles—get your employees involved and give back to our veterans and current servicemen and women. This doesn’t have to be a burden on your bottom line. You can keep it simple with low-cost, hand-made holiday cards thanking our troops for their services.
Another way to help is to give a monetary donation through a number of charitable websites. Some websites offer a choice to support the families of troops, injured or disabled veterans, or individuals currently serving—invite your employees to lend a hand and provide them with a few websites accepting donations. Check out Operation Gratitude— a well-known program designed to help troops who are currently serving. You can also visit Soldiers Angels if you are interested in giving back to disabled or injured veterans.
The holidays are a challenging time to be away from your loved ones, giving your company the opportunity to lend a hand to those in need is an incredible way to see the true colors behind your employees. Positivity will bring everyone together, and giving back will help to shape and define the culture of your organization.
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4. Find Your Local Food Bank
If you are looking to have your company donate food this holiday season, start by visiting Feeding America and type in your zip code to locate your local food bank. Feeding America is dedicated to reduce hunger year-round, but the holidays are always a nice time to give back. You can choose to donate once, but I would recommend setting up a personal fundraising campaign if everyone in the office wants to get involved. Get creative - have your office decorate the cans they bring in to be Thanksgiving/Holiday themed to bring a bit more joy to the individuals receiving the donation.
5. Adopt a Family Holiday Program
The Salvation Army is dedicated to helping families in need at all times of the year although the holidays are a popular time for people to give back. A holiday favorite for both families and businesses is the Salvation Army’s Adopt a Family Program. You can easily locate a nearby family-in-need by visiting The Salvation Army’s website and typing in your zip code! Consider adopting multiple families dependent on the size of your company. As a holiday sponsor, you will be asked to donate food, clothing and gifts for families that may be struggling with recent job loss, health issues or homelessness.
6. Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign
The Salvation Army has maintained one of the most notable and successful charity campaigns—The Red Kettle Campaign which began in 1891. At first, the name may not ring a bell (no pun intended), but think again! Ever seen volunteers outside a local grocery store holding that iconic red bell during the holidays? That’s the Red Kettle Campaign! Although they maintain their humble roots by campaigning out in the community, it is easier than ever to donate to the cause. Money received is spent on year round social services, shelter and food during the holidays and gifts and thanks for deserving families in need. Simply text “KETTLES” to 51555 beginning the day of Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
7. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Does your office have a pet-friendly policy? If so, donating to animal shelters may be the perfect fit for your company. Shelters accept donations of food, toys, beds, etc. but you can also give a monetary donation that will be put towards healthcare and happiness. Even if you aren't donating a turkey, you can make some pets very happy on this Thanksgiving! Check out Karma Rescue, The Animal Rescue Site, or Pet Finder to give your donations this holiday season.
8. Visit a Senior Center
Holidays can be an especially emotional time for people who have lost family members or close friends in their life. Give back to the elderly in person at your local senior home, or online through the Senior Services Association. Consider visiting a senior center, where a number of elderly patients, unfortunately, do not have families (or the means to visit) during the holidays. Get your office together to volunteer at a senior center—put together a potluck, give them cards of thanks, and most importantly, spend a bit of time with someone who may need it more than you know.
9. Social Media #GiveBack
Don’t worry if you have a global workforce or multiple offices, have everyone get involved on social media! Consider a #giveback hashtag unique to your company, or create a competition between offices for the best donation ideas. Try posting inspirational photos of you and your team helping others, donating, or crafting gifts for families in need.