It’s Blog Action Day!
The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a worldwide discussion regarding an important issue. This year, it’s poverty.
For this post, I wanted my post to meet three criteria:
- To bring value to readers, it must result in a list of creative ways business can help fight poverty
- To encourage engagement, it must be generated by readers of the blog, not me
- At least one food bank must benefit
So on September 15th, I asked the readers of this blog to answer the question How can business help the poor?
I offered a bounty for ideas and examples: for everyone that contributed at least one idea or example that made the Top 10, Outsource Marketing would donate $20 to a food bank of each respondent’s choosing.
I received so many good ideas, I expanded the list from 10 to 25.
Without further ado and in no particular order, here are—
25 ways your business can help fight poverty
- Cook and distribute meals
St. Clouds restaurant in Leschi (Seattle, WA) holds a monthly cooking project for the homeless. Each month, the restaurant invites the community to come to its kitchen bringing whatever food they can spare…St. Clouds provides the proteins. Together they cook custom gourmet meals for the homeless, who could never afford such a meal. These are delivered to 200 people at five shelters and a tent city around town each month.
Promotion of the event has been strictly via word-of-mouth.
This is a unique, very cool local outreach that is, in my opinion, truly an act of kindness.
- Partner with a charity, publish a picture book documenting their lives
This year GE in Italy supported “Pane Quotidiano” (means “daily bread”), a charitable association founded in 1898 in Milano to help feed the poor. In 1908 the association was “formally” established and, on June 4th, celebrated a 100 years of feeding the less fortunate.
The contributions donated on this occasion were used to publish a picture book documenting the lives of the association’s guests. The book was sold in libraries for donations. Additionally the association was also able to buy a new truck need to collect the food that everyday businesses and/or distributors give away because in excess or approaching the expiration date. It was touching and great to be part of this initiative!
- Promote trade and partnership in underdeveloped countriesCheck out Connect Ethiopia. An organization started by business in Ireland. It’s goal is to create business links between companies in Ireland and Ethiopia and use business and trade to develop poor countries.
- Get your hands dirtyHands on — I’d offer.
I’ve found that the best reality of working authentically, to contribute in a reflectively meaningful way — meaning fully — is to do it your self; hands on, live, being in the space, contributing eye to eye. Rather than dropping some capital — what can you do, in the telling of your story that is live to them, live for you. It’s a life, it’s a live, it’s alive.
You’re in that circle, you’re doing the work, making the contribution — and it’s real. No financial smoke that distances you from the reality.
Do something and you’ve got the passion to spread the word. Write a check and the instant of giving dissipates in an instance, as well. Do both and deliver it by hand and do some work at the same time! The ring is reflective, the song is sung true and the circle of giving and heart fullness is unbroken.
- Encourage employee involvement with a charityYou can help the poor by telling everyone in your company to donate some time and volunteer at the local food bank.
- Provide opportunity and accessIn most low income areas, there is little opportunity or access to jobs that pay a decent wage, provide health care, or allow for flexible schedules.
Poor people don’t need a one time handout – they need access to jobs, personal and professional education, and proper diet, to ensure they can sustain the responsibility of providing for themselves.
If businesses truly want to help they should start:
- Paying decent wages, offset by the cost of company provided health insurance
- Provide training – through partnerships with their state employment agencies and local colleges to keep the cost low
- Move away from the 9-5 in the cubicle mentality and provide flex scheduling especially for people with children and those not in customer service positions.
- Create a local coalition. ex. Local businesses could partner with a local grocers to provide discounts to employees and nutritional training. Grocers partner with local farmers who partner with local transport companies, and so forth.
- Create a contest and use video and social media to create an actively engaged audienceAny firm could have a blog on their webpage. This activity will also be of commercial interest of the firm as people will talk about what is happening on the webpage and return to look what happens next. The firm choose a project. The project of the month: Like in the television programme, “The secret millionaire” they go to a poor area and find a project, where some good people dedicate their lives to help other people.
On the blog they present those people and open an account to wich people can make donations and write comments, ideas or even offer to join to give a helping hand. It is after this possible to follow this place and the people, who work there by clicking on the link. But each month a new project is presented with a picture on the webpage. But still it is possible to follow links to former projects of the month.
- Create a matching program for employeesBoeing is holding a special employee drive for the month of September. They are matching triple for each e-giving dollar. Funds go to local organizations who provide supplies to local food banks and meal programs in the Puget Sound. This is a great incentive for employees to give to the program.
- Give discounts to clients for donating needed goodsNumbers 9, 10 and 11 were contributed by Jovan Pollard
- Allow staff to donate money or goods to wear jeans or “dress down” on a specified day
- Volunteer your own professional services
- Vancity’s Change Everything initiative
- Caleb Chang contributed an impressive list on his own, and contributed numbers 12-24
- Vancity’s Change Everything initiative
- Join your local Rotary clubIn 2008-09, the global mandate for Rotarians is to Make Dreams Real for the world’s children
- Start collecting non-perishable food stuff from staff to fill food hampers
- Start or participate in initiatives like Community Money
- Provide microfinance loans through services like Kiva
- Donate your points If a business has a rewards program for their customers, allow reward program member to donate their points to local charities or international causes
- Fill shoeboxes full of gifts and donate them to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse
- Volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen
- Check with your local churches for projects that help the poor
- Give to the United Way They get it. Their “Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow initiative makes a real difference.
- Donate to programs that help our kids
- Businesses can look to align with organizations that give a hand up, not a hand out
- Join the conversation and encourage others to help fight povertyYou can do this actively participating in the conversation here and other blogs talking about this subject.
Bring up poverty at home, work, the gym, your coffee shop—everywhere.
And by all means, please post this on all your social sites and forward a link to this article to everyone you know in business.
Because getting people talking is what Blog Action Day 2008 is all about.
If you have more ideas or examples of ways business can help fight poverty, share them in the comments below.