Studies have shown: giving makes you happy. Whether it’s buying a present for your mother, giving money to a charity or volunteering at a Boys & Girls Club, we feel good when we help others.
That thinking also extends to the workplace, says Carrie Morgridge, vice president of the Morgridge Family Foundation and author of “Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World.” Indeed, a study by Deloitte Consulting found that 87 percent of workers who volunteered with a group at work felt it improved their teamwork and people skills, while 81 precent said that it helped develop stronger relationships with their colleagues.
“Volunteering brings a team together,” says Morgridge. “It increases productivity, and allows co-workers to bond over a common goal that’s not necessarily work-related, but tied to their community.”
It makes sense: teams that volunteer together collaborate better. But it also can affect attitudes. “The first thing that volunteering is about is simple kindness,” says Morgridge. “Sometimes we get mean or aggressive at work — we’re all human. But being mindful of kindness and respect is one of the first things that come out of volunteering.”
Not sure how to convince your co-workers to volunteer together? Morgridge offers these tips to finding the best way for your team to give back.
Find what brings you joy
Let’s be honest: Not all of us are equipped to help build a house with our bare hands, or wrangle a bunch of hyperactive children. “Identify your passion first,” says Morgridge. “Ask yourself what you like, where you like to give, where you have given in the past and the best gift you’ve ever given. By answering these questions, you can find what project will give you the most fulfillment. Then, ask your friends or teammates to join you.”
Get your team involved
Have a big group? Morgridge says plan a meeting where you ask one another where your passions lie and what a volunteer project for the team would look like. “I recommend something that’s active — like building bikes or preparing meals together,” says Morgridge. “Those tend to create the best bonding experiences.” Can’t agree on one activity? Pick a “volunteer day” and come up with a few options that your colleagues can choose from.
Make it official
Don’t be shy to go up to your boss and suggest a volunteer day. “It’s one of the top things bosses love — taking initiative,” says Morgridge. “Say, 'I have this idea, I did the research and I’d love to plan an event.’” Morgridge stresses, however, that it should be something you really want to do — not a way to climb the corporate ladder. If your company already has a giving program, but it’s not where you love to volunteer, Morgridge says there’s nothing wrong with creating something new. “Why just have one program?”
Where to volunteer
Morgridge recommends the following places as good jumping off points to start your volunteering.
Wish for Wheels
This nonprofit provides bikes and helmets for elementary school kids. Volunteers pitch in to build a bike, and the organization offers all sorts of team-building activities for groups who want to volunteer together.
Habitat for Humanity
This popular organization allows volunteers to build homes for families in need around the globe.
One of the largest food banks in the U.S. relies on volunteers to sort, package and deliver food.