Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone. As I sat at my desk this morning, reading through various articles and blogs discussing the historical significance of this holiday, I began to think about Martin Luther King Jr.’s immense contributions to philanthropy – and the various ways in which people are contributing their service to others today in remembrance of him. According to a Washington Post article, Americans are participating in 11,000 service projects around the nation today.
My friend Chris, for example, is in D.C. for the inauguration activities (yes, I am jealous) and is spending his time today at RFK stadium for a day of service. Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president at noon tomorrow, did his part by visiting Walter Reed Army Medical Center this morning to meet with wounded troops, then going to the sole D.C. homeless shelter for teens, Sasha Bruce House, to help with the facility’s renovation efforts.
“As we honor that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect – it’s a day to act,” Obama said. “I ask the American people to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.”
As part of a business community, how do you become more involved in philanthropy – not just today – but in your everyday activities? I previously talked about what corporate philanthropy is and what it means to your business. Today, we’re seeing companies struggling and people losing their homes. Some are looking back, wondering how we got into this mess. But right now, it’s important than ever to look ahead, to move forward, and to help pick each other back up.
Before committing your business to a charitable cause, however, here are 10 things you may want to consider.
- Research causes and issues which are important to you and to your employees before committing to one in particular.
- Once you do find a cause that you would like to become involved in, it is important to set clear goals, be proactive in your efforts, and keep lines of communication open both with your employees and the nonprofit you are involved with.
- Take steps to ensure that you are entering a partnership with the group or foundation of your choice. Philanthropy should not be one-sided, but beneficial for both parties.
There are a multitude of service sites out there, and adding to the list is Obama’s USA Service. You can now create events in your area or sign up for existing volunteer efforts here.
As Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
What are you and your business doing to help others — today, and moving forward?Related