My company is a large one, with 13 locations and more than 4,000 employees in North America. As you can imagine, we work on many charitable programs that give back to our communities. At our campus in Lawrenceville, Ga., we wanted to do something on a local level, with an organization that was important to the employees here. In 2012, we began fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s local Relay for Life event, with eight employees on our team. I knew we could do better in 2013, and we did. We organized for success, and have had the largest team growth rate in our county — up from 8 people in 2012, to 64 people in 2013.

Fundraising for charity not only benefits the chosen charity; it can benefit your business, too. Participation in fundraising activities leads to increased employee engagement and promotes cross-functional activity, two things that any business can benefit from. Below are some strategies that can help your business support a great cause, and ultimately, build a better internal community.

  1. Organize fundraising events based on employee interests. Food wins the hearts of our employees, but do a little research to find what motivates your team. Maybe it is gourmet coffee drinks, extra time off, or Casual Monday. Do what will pique interest and encourage employees to buy in to the program. The more employees you have invested, the better the fundraising will go.
  2. Remember, variety is the spice of life. While you should build fundraising efforts around what you know a large number of employees like, do offer a variety of fundraising activities. You want to appeal to the majority of your contributors, and, you don’t want people to get tired of the same thing. The more interesting activities you host, the more engaged employees will be.
  3. Help your employees while they help you. Host fundraising events that will also help your employees — and I don’t just mean by giving them the warm fuzzies for helping out. Do something that will also make their lives easier. For instance, we hosted a silent auction for Christmas decorations that employees no longer needed. Employees were able to clean out some of their clutter AND we made money for Relay for Life. It’s a win-win for all involved. Remember, appreciative employees are loyal employees.
  4. Form a fundraising committee. You will need reinforcements in order to successfully fundraise. Get a group of passionate employees together to help come up with fundraising ideas, execute on them, and help encourage greater participation. Our team members really pump up the other employees to help out. Most likely, there will be people from all different parts of the business on a committee, and that’s a great thing. These cross-functional interactions help employee relations, and will encourage more integrated work interactions.
  5. Support a cause that is near and dear to employees’ hearts. We chose The American Cancer Society not only because it is a good cause, but because we knew several of our employees had been directly affected by cancer. Supporting a cause that means so much to our employees has impacted how much money we have been able to raise and how involved employees have been.
  6. Encourage more community involvement. When you find an organization you are passionate about, you want others to get involved, too. Reach out to other businesses on your street or in your building and spread the word. Having your company name visible in such a positive way will build your community presence and reputation. In fact, this could eventually lead to additional sales. Being top of mind is never a bad thing.

To find fundraising success, you must be creative, committed and passionate, and you must do the proper planning. Combine these elements and your enthusiasm will be contagious. Your employees will feel more engaged with your company, and your community presence will grow – all very good reasons to invest time and vision into your fundraising efforts.