Recently, The Marlin Company had a new opportunity to give back in the midst of the holiday season. It all started when our neighboring company challenged us to a food drive to help in the fight against hunger in Connecticut. Sounds straightforward enough. But there was something different about this charity drive. In fact, it played perfectly into my Millennial generation mindset and really got me excited from the moment it was launched. Let’s take a look at why it worked so well:
Keeping it local – Donating to a local charity gives you the chance to see first-hand how your time, money and labor improved someone’s life. This is important to Millennials because we value stories; especially ones where we can help determine a positive outcome. It also gives us a chance to see an immediate impact, which goes along with the Gen-Y goal of making a real difference in the world as we start to find our place. The food bank we donated to is just down the street from our office, so the story was more personal for our employees. It was inspiring to think that our neighbors, the people we see every day, would be the ones benefitting from our drive after just a few weeks.
Getting in the game – Let’s face it, we all like to have a little more fun. To raise the stakes for our food drive, the company that donated the most dry goods by weight would receive a pizza party and bragging rights for the next year. We also exchanged weekly updates on our progress, which started some friendly trash talking that added to the fun. Introducing an element of gamification like this to a mundane task of bringing in dry goods appeals to Millennials. That’s because it creates fun, engaging experiences that we can enjoy with others while bringing out our competitive side.
Being social – Millennials don’t necessarily give to organizations, we give to causes. To take advantage of this, give them an idea of what the cause is all about. Show how the money or items are being used. And most importantly, feature the people who’ve benefitted from the donations. This can be done through email, but it doesn’t quite offer the same shared experience that we’re used to nowadays. We achieved this with our workplace digital signage by posting pictures of our boxes filling up with goods, the transport cars packed to the brim, and the nail-biting scene of the final weigh in. It empowered us and gave us a sense of accomplishment.
A final, key component is to let employees give how they want to. Giving comes in many forms, and Millennials are broadening its definition. Marlin employees donated the requested goods, offered up their vehicles, and gave their time to pack the cars and then unload at the food bank. Some even got a tour of the facility and shared their experience with others at the office. So whether it be money, time, labor or something as simple as passing information on to others, empower workers to give back any way they can.
How did we do? In Marlin’s case, we won our food drive competition and pizza party, but the real winners were those that we helped feed in their time of need. In total, our two companies brought in 2,235 pounds of food to provide a total of 1,862 meals. Ask yourself this: what can your company do by the end of the year to make someone’s holiday a little more special?