Purpose Is Key

How well do you know your company’s purpose, its reason for existing? Knowing your company is more than just knowing what types of products you manufacture or sell, what kind of services you offer, or the benefit plan your employees receive. What you need to know are your organization’s goals and objectives. You must understand your corporate culture, and why your company does what it does.

The reason it’s so important to begin with understanding your company’s purpose is because your program’s goals and objectives will need to be aligned with your company’s goals in order for you to create measurable and sustainable impact in your community.  You should take the time to get to know the decision makers at your company if you don’t know them already. What is their leadership style? Are they receptive to new ideas? What do they think about charitable causes and community service? It’s time to start these conversations and ask questions. Think of it as a fact-finding mission to gather intel you’ll use to create a community involvement program that will engage your employees and create impactful and measurable change in your community.

If you’re in an HR leadership role, you’ll be able to tap your senior leaders for their input and for the data you need. If you’re not in human resources, a good place to start having a conversation about starting a charitable giving and volunteer program would be with your HR leaders. First find out what, if anything, your company is currently doing on the philanthropy front.  Your colleagues are another excellent resource, and knowing what they think will help you tremendously.  Charitable giving and CSR help strengthen the connection between employees and their company. So you’ll definitely want to include employee feedback as part of your strategy. It will also help you determine the type of program that would be best received by employees. Once your program launches, you’ll need supporters, and showing your peers that you value their thoughts and opinions early on will help create that support team. Those supporters will play a key role throughout your process, from program launch to embedding giving into your company culture. Tell a group of your peers about your ideas and ask them if you can pick their brains a bit.

A word of advice: begin at the beginning. If you’re starting your program from scratch (which is where I was starting from), you’ll probably want to hold off on going the full CSR route, as that would be like going from a bicycle to a Ferrari, and it’s likely to get nixed by your leaders.  I go into detail about the difference between charitable giving and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs in my book, "A Million Dollars In Change".  Start small. Identify the resources you already have at your disposal, and build from there. The big splashes will come later. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want leadership to buy into your idea, you have to show that it’s doable, and more important, that it’s doable without breaking the bank. Remember, we’re going for a million dollars’ worth of positive, impactful change without having to actually spend a million dollars to achieve it!

Doing Something Beats Doing Nothing, Every Time

Myth: 

You need to invest a lot of money in a workplace giving program to do it right.

Reality:

Perhaps the biggest myth I’ve heard about starting a workplace giving program and the one that’s at the heart of why I wrote this book, is that you have to make a significant dollar investment to launch a program.  You will be happy to know that not only is this not true, but you can actually launch your program with little to no investment and still make an impact in your community.  How do I know?  Because that’s exactly what I did.

Many events, such as clothing and food drives, cost your company nothing and still benefit nonprofits and the people they serve.  Organizing a volunteer effort is also a no- or low-cost activity.  Starting your program off with these types of events has other benefits as well.  It gives you an opportunity to gauge employee interest, and in doing so allows you to gather data to build a case for future funding and program expansion.  Understand that there is no such thing as “not good enough” when it comes to giving.  Doing something trumps doing nothing any day. 

(From "A Million Dollars In Change: How to Engage Your Employees, Attract Top Talent, and Make the World a Better Place")

Interested in learning how your company can get started in creating impactful change in the community?  Order your copy of “A Million Dollars In Change” today by clicking on the "Book" tab and selecting "Buy".

We Have Lift-off!

Hey everyone!

I've been MIA on the blog the last few months.  Sorry about that, but I do have a good reason.  I was preparing for the launch and official release of "A Million Dollars In Change".  I'm excited to share with you that the book is now officially available for sale!  You can go here to order your copy:  http://www.alessandracavalluzzi.com/preorder-the-book/

It's been an amazing journey watching my vision come to life.  It's surreal, actually, to hold my book in my hands.  A great feeling, for sure, but I'm most excited about the potential it has to bring about impactful change both inside your company and out in the community.

I’ll be sharing some insight on the publishing journey in future blog posts for anyone who is interested in embarking on a writing career or publishing a book of their own.  It definitely requires time, patience, and a lot of hard work.  There will be peaks and valleys.   Things will go wrong, then they'll go right.  You'll create, revise, and revise again.  You'll have moments of excitement and moments of utter frustration.  Then everything will come together perfectly in the end.

More on that to follow.  In the meantime, I want to give you a heads-up about a group we’ve just created over on Facebook called "Million Dollar Change Agents".  It's a gathering place for anyone who wants to make their company a great place to work by making their community a better place to live.  We’ll be discussing how to put the tips and tactics outlined in “A Million Dollars In Change” into action.  The group is open to everyone, so come on over!  We’d love to have you.

Click the link below to be taken to the group page:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/milliondollarchange/groups/?ref=page_internal

Favorite Things: Books

When I'm not writing I can usually be found with my nose in a book.  I love to read, and winter is the time of year when I am able to catch up on my book addiction since the weather here in New York isn't always the most favorable.  What better way to spend a snow day or a frigid night than curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a compelling page-turner?

I'm currently reading "The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  The authors describe the book as follows:  "we explore why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work."

I'm really enjoying this book because it's chock full of practical advice and examples of how we can create amazing moments which benefit others (and ourselves in the process).   When I stop and think on it, serving others creates many such experiences.  The act of helping another person, showing compassion and caring, making someone feel that they are important, that they are not alone, is life changing.  Community service and giving create many moments just like these for the beneficiaries and the volunteers.  I highly recommend reading "The Power of Moments" and I will definitely incorporate some of these ideas in my day to day work.

What are some of your favorite books? Share below in comments!

PS - Have some old books around the house that are gently used?  Consider donating them to this awesome nonprofit:  www.thebookfairies.org

 

 

 

STARS

The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time of giving, and so naturally our awareness of non-profits and those in need is heightened during this time of the year. Holidays help shine a light on the many people who are in need of assistance, but it’s important to remember that our non-profits work tirelessly throughout the year to enrich the quality of life for so many in the communities where we live and work.   They accomplish amazing things but are very humble about it.  These organizations “fly under the radar” most of the time with virtually no recognition for their effort. 

Today’s blog post is dedicated to honoring all of the men and women (past and present) who work and volunteer as staff in the non-profit world.   These unsung heroes are champions for the greater good.   Or perhaps it’s more fitting to call them stars.  I say that not for the obvious reason, which is that they are top-notch at what they do; but because the star has a deeper symbolism for me.    

I think of a star as a symbol of hope.  When we see a bright star twinkling in the night sky our first thought is to make a wish.  We wish for something that is important to us, and we hope that our wish comes true.  I also associate stars with guidance.  For centuries, captains of vessels looked to the stars to help navigate their ships through uncharted waters.  They used the North Star to guide them safely to their destination.  Finally, I think of stars in terms of stability.  When we see that a business or establishment receives a five star rating we feel confident doing business with them because those stars indicate that they are dependable.  We know that we will be treated well and we’ll receive excellent service.

Hope.  Guidance.  Stability.  Excellent service.  All of these things are what our non-profits provide to the people and communities they serve every day.  So while they are champions, it is fitting that they should also be called stars. 

A heartfelt “thank you” to all of the non-profit organizations helping to make our communities a better place to live.  We are grateful for your commitment to creating impactful and lasting change in the global community. 

SHINE ON!

Moments

Moments define our lives.  Special moments.  Unforgettable moments.  They can change us, move us, inspire us.  Volunteering provides us with many of these.   Serving others has the power to transform our lives, and the world.  Volunteer today.  Follow the link below to find an opportunity in your area.

www.volunteermatch.org

A Happy Little Secret

You know that old saying, “happiness comes from within”? The topic of self-love and its connection to a fulfilling life has been the subject of many a self-help book and countless articles over the years.  Being happy with ourselves promotes happy and healthy relationships with others.  It also contributes to our self-confidence, which in turn contributes to success in our personal and professional lives.  

Now I know what you’re thinking – “easier said than done”.   Sure, it sounds great in theory but it’s a lot harder in practice.  I get it.  We’re human after all, and life isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  It can be tough to love yourself sometimes.  Maybe it’s a battle with low self-esteem.  It's hard to feel good about ourselves if we don’t have confidence in our abilities.  Or maybe it’s feelings of inferiority: “I wish I was as popular as her”, “why can’t I be as confident as that guy?”, “I’ll never amount to anything”.  And then there’s that little (big) thing that we’ve all pondered at some point -- our life's purpose. “Why am I here?”, “am I important?”, “do I matter to anyone?”

Indeed, loving yourself is very important in building healthy relationships.  But what if I told you that the key to a truly fulfilling and joyful life is NOT inside of you?   You read that right.  The key to happiness is not inside of you.  If it is happiness that you seek, you need to look outside of yourself.  There is mounting evidence that the secret to a truly joyful and purpose-driven life is found in service to others.

The great news is that there are many ways to serve in your community.  You can volunteer with any of the hundreds of organizations right in your city or neighborhood.   They can sure use the help.  But before you sign up, take a moment to think about the following things:

1.     What skills or talent do you possess that can help others? 

In other words, what are you really, really good at and how can you put that skill to use in making someone’s life better?  (More on skills-based volunteering in my next blog post)

2.     What are you passionate about?

Every act of service is important and will leave you feeling great afterwards; but volunteering for a cause that really speaks to you kicks that feeling up a few notches from happiness to bliss.

Serving others creates a sense of purpose in our lives; and a purpose-driven life is a happy life.  We see the world differently when we feel good about the direction our life is headed in.  Our perspective changes for the better.  The way we view ourselves changes, too.  We're more confident and we just feel good about ourselves. 

TIME.com published an article in August of this year that delves deeper into the connection between volunteerism and a life of happiness.  The article is entitled "The Secret to Happiness is Helping Others".  Spread the word!

Happy Sunday.

United in Service

Volunteering unites us in a way that few other activities can.  Joining together to assist others who are in need reminds us of our humanity.  When we volunteer, we set aside our differences and focus on a greater purpose – to come to the aid of our fellow brothers and sisters.  Volunteering reminds us that we are one human family.  

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities for the upcoming National Day of Service in commemoration of the September 11 anniversary, or to assist with relief efforts in areas affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, go to the following website:

www.volunteermatch.org

Search by city or by cause to find opportunities near you.