“Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” Brian Solis, speaker, author, and digital marketing analyst
Community is…belonging. Support and inspiration. Shared investment. Common beliefs. A sense of safety and happiness. Togetherness. Connection. Community can mean something different to each person. But regardless of your definition, community is an essential element of our overall wellbeing.
When we discuss community wellbeing, we are referring to liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community. It is about engaging and getting involved in the area where you live and work.
Participating in a blood drive. Mentoring kids at the local Boys & Girls Club. Serving meals at a soup kitchen. Donating funds to a local cause. Teaching religious education at your place of worship. Joining the planning committee of a town festival. Through actions such as these, you can make a tremendous impact on your community. The time, talent, and treasures that you provide can truly make a difference.
But the power of giving back doesn’t stop with the people you support. It is much farther reaching - it can impact yourself and those around you.
I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling after volunteering your time or donating to a cause, that “helper’s high.” It feels good to support others. It brings us joy. It can make us more energetic and motivated, even after the smallest acts of service. As Winston Churchill famously said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Giving of ourselves can shape our lives.
Engaging with your community and giving back can help improve your wellbeing. Gallup discusses the results of giving back - it “promotes deeper social interaction, enhanced meaning and purpose, and a more active lifestyle -- while keeping us from being too preoccupied with ourselves or getting into harmful emotional states.”
In The Workplace
No matter how involved your company currently is in employee giving efforts, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate. Are employees engaging in these programs? Are your efforts truly promoting community wellbeing?
Studies by America’s Charities have revealed some fascinating insights into workplace giving. There has been a paradigm shift in recent years. The question is no longer - should we have an employee giving program, but rather - how can we maximize our employee giving efforts? This new approach “moves away from giving as a transaction, to giving as part of a larger engagement profile.” It’s about empowering employees to participate in the giving experience.
Much of this change can be attributed to the increased expectations of employees. They are pushing employers for increased corporate philanthropy, and at times demanding it.
What exactly are employees expecting from you? It will vary with each workforce - so like any wellbeing programs, it is important to start by asking your employees what they are interested in. For some inspiration, consider what America’s Charities found in their Trends and Strategies to Engage Employees in Greater Giving report. Employees surveyed are expecting employers to offer initiatives such as:
- Matching their contribution with a company gift.
- Conducting an effective workplace giving program.
- Support and encouragement from the employer to participate.
- Promotion and sponsorship of volunteer opportunities.
- Expanding opportunities to give throughout the year to any charity.
- Providing released time to volunteer.
- Encouraging teams of employees to volunteer.
- Conducting employer-sponsored volunteer projects where they can join with colleagues in doing good.
- Offering financial grants to their favorite charities in recognition of their volunteer service.
Remember, the workplace itself is also a community for your employees. You can support their community wellbeing by finding ways for employees to support each other. Social and community wellbeing are interrelated! Group volunteering is not only a way to support a cause and help build individual wellbeing, but it can also help your employees get to know each other better and develop camaraderie. Similarly, connecting employees in mentor programs can be a way for them to develop work relationships, support each other, and feel like part of a team.
Community is an integral part of overall wellbeing. The power of giving back and feeling connected to where we live and work can be tremendous. Don’t let community wellbeing slip through the cracks of your wellness initiatives.