Editor’s Note: This article was written in partnership with Caviar for Companies, the service that simplifies group food ordering and white-glove catering. Caviar’s support of OfficeNinjas and the admin community helps us continue to provide valuable education, resources, and events.
Personal change is hard enough, and when others are involved (think: a whole company), even the simplest tweak can seem like a monumental undertaking.
Often, admin pros and workplace operators (we call them “Office Ninjas”) are charged with planning culture-building activities, onboarding new hires, and cultivating the office’s norms, values, and overall vibe. So, when you’re asked to help shape the company’s culture, where do you even begin?
Why Invest in Workplace Giving?
While every workplace is different, there’s one option that’s rarely wrong: workplace giving. Encouraging generosity, community service, and acts of kindness can positively impact any workplace, no matter what kind of culture you’re working within.
Since the idea of giving is just as broad as culture, we asked admin pros in the Office Ninja community to share their experiences with workplace giving, and tips for others who want to develop corporate giving initiatives. Of course, they gave us some excellent insights.
Admin-Approved Workplace Giving Activities
Starting a workplace giving initiative can seem daunting — but you’re not alone! Try out one (or more) of these meaningful activities shared by fellow Ninjas.
Enjoy the entire article or use these links to quickly jump to a section of your choice:
- Community Service. A classic for a reason. Bond with your team and do some good in your community.
- Gift and Clothing Drives. Easy, accessible, and impactful (and great for the holidays!).
- “Adopting” a Charity. Rally around a chosen cause with your team and fully support it.
- Food Donations. Always end up with leftovers after a catered meal? Ensure they’re not wasted.
- Financial Contributions. One of the simplest and most impactful ways to support others.
- Pro Bono Work. Put your team’s talents to good use!
And be sure to enter our GIVEaway at the end of this article! ✨
One surefire way to integrate giving into the workplace is to make it company policy. A few of the Office Ninjas we spoke with said they receive designated paid time off for community service as part of their benefits package.
Our paid volunteer time benefit provides up to 15 hours of paid time annually for you to take part in volunteer activities. — Kathy J.
This kind of support empowers employees to give back to the community, but it also boosts morale and facilitates team-building, as employees often choose to volunteer in groups.
If your organization is not in a position to offer paid time off for volunteer work, try advocating for a company-wide service day or after-hours activity. Alicia A., Front Office Coordinator at WellPet in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, says that WellPet’s Employee Volunteer Day “allows a personal level of interaction between our Wellies that may not have a chance to form in an office setting; many conversations, photos, and friendships have formed from volunteering.”
Gift and Clothing Drives
To make giving more accessible to all employees, Mary P., Director of People and Culture at Universe in Toronto, launched a drive for clothing and household supplies to benefit local shelters.
“It can be hard to ask people to give money to causes when they might not be able to but feel pressured,” she says.
“I realized shelters and community organizations always take clothing and household donations, and they go directly to those in need instead of being sold for a profit at thrift stores. It’s something everyone can do, helps the environment (reusing instead of going to a landfill), and can be done in every city!”
Other Ninjas and their employers plan their drives around the holidays when people are already tapped into the spirit of giving. Angela F., Administrative Assistant at WEST Consultants, Inc. in Salem, Oregon, and her colleagues skip Secret Santa and use their resources to collect gifts for a local family in need.
Our different giving opportunities have definitely raised the overall feeling of pride in our community and in ourselves. — Angela F.
Michela D., Executive Assistant at Home Tax Solutions in Dallas, Texas, says her team takes their support of the local Salvation Army’s Angel Tree to the next level by making it a playful bonding experience.
“We divide the company into teams, and at our end-of-year corporate meeting, we take the time to shop for our ‘angel’ family. Prior to shopping, we play friendly competitive games, with winning teams scoring extra shopping money.”
Her advice for nailing that proposal for a new giving back program? Do your research before sharing your idea with your team. Identify potential costs, required man-power, and how it would positively impact the company. Then, prepare a presentation (either visual or verbal) and be ready to answer any questions that come your way.
“Adopting” a Charity
Some Ninjas find that rallying around a common cause can strengthen a team’s sense of unity, and that shared sense of purpose spills over into day-to-day operations. Cindy C. belongs to a Philanthropy Committee that supports two charities by hosting employee events and giving opportunities, like raffles, silent auctions, and “pay to wear jeans to work” days, throughout the year.
“We all look forward to giving opportunities and are amazed each time at the amount our small group contributes,” Cindy says. “The programs send out a vibe of excitement!”
Admin Coordinator Tamiesha S. says the company motto at Hardenbergh Insurance Group (HIG) in Marlton, New Jersey, is Insuring Bright Futures and Building Lasting Relationships, with a core value of supporting the local community. In her office, staff members submit charities near and dear to their hearts and names are picked at random throughout the summer. Then, volunteer work and/or funds are donated to the chosen charities.
It’s great to experience first hand the many opportunities to give and to work with a team that’s incredibly giving. – Tamiesha S.
Ninjas who organize company events and meals often end up with plenty of food leftovers, and many are confounded by the cost or liability of figuring out how to donate and deliver them to those in need.
Both People Partner Scott J. and Senior Workplace Experience Coordinator Emily P. have found a solution for easy leftover donations through Caviar for Companies‘ white-glove catering service. Not only does Caviar’s white-glove catering provide end-to-end food preparation and service — they will also carefully pack up any extra food that is in good, edible condition and donate it locally on your behalf through their partnership with Replate.
These donations ensure we are doing our part to contribute towards solving food insecurity and food waste problems in our local communities. — Lauren M., Caviar for Companies
Meanwhile, at California State University, Fresno, Administrative Support Coordinator Selena W. reports they have a program called Student Cupboard, which provides food and basic necessities for students who may be experiencing food insecurities.
“These are the minds we are helping to shape to send out into our communities to fulfill their dreams of giving back through their careers,” she says. “The last thing we want them to worry about is where their next meal is coming from.”
New to Caviar for Companies? It’s the easiest way to get good food at work. Whether planning a company-wide event or managing a daily catered lunch order, Caviar’s corporate offering accommodates your team’s needs (dietary restrictions included) and provides reliable delivery and first-class customer support.
Of course, one of the simplest and most impactful ways to give is through financial contributions. And when companies support their employees’ giving, donations feel less transactional and more connected to the company’s culture.
UnitedHealthcare, in West Des Moines, Iowa, where Jackie P. works as an Executive Assistant, offers a 1:1 match for employees’ donations to eligible charities. Additionally, team members who track 30 hours of volunteer time are eligible for a $500 charitable grant.
This programming serves as a daily reminder of the importance we place on our United culture of integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation, and performance. — Jackie P.
Based in Algona, Iowa, Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company’s SHARE (Supportive Help Among Reassuring Employees) program offers 2:1 matching for all contributions, which enabled employees to raise $5,000 for a colleague’s child who was undergoing liver transplant surgery. “Our company values are RICE – Relationships, Integrity, Citizenship, and Excellence,” says Rhonda O., Executive Assistant. “By donating our money or our time, we fulfill the Citizenship value.”
Pro Bono Work
Pro bono work can be a particularly rewarding way to give, as it enables people to use their skills and talents to serve others. And you don’t need a huge budget to make a difference, says Catherine S., Legal Administrative Assistant at Pierce Atwood LLP in Portland, Maine.
Her firm donates a minimum of 50 hours a year to non-profits like museums, conservancy programs, and organizations that support hospice patients and immigrants.
Giving back builds connections between our regional offices, improves the mental health of our employees, connects us to our communities … and it is FUN for everyone. — Catherine S.
Schuchart, a Seattle-based construction company, works with Sawhorse Revolution, an organization that introduces underserved youth to carpentry. Kylene A., Schuchart’s Office and Events Manager, says that in addition to bringing employees closer together, her company’s giving helps attract new hires.
And Ross G., Office Manager at MediaMath in New York, says his company developed a charitable wing called MediaMath.org that focuses on giving back through a variety of practices, including the donation of marketing services to charities through their program Marketing For Good. “This program has been part of the company for a few years now and is such an amazing use of our collective resources,” says Ross.
Thanks to Our Giving Contributors
Dozens of admin pros wrote in to us about their workplace giving activities, shared photos, and allowed us to feature them in this article. Thank you to those engaged Ninjas — we’re continually blown away by the community’s generosity!
Shout out to the Office Ninjas featured in this article 👏
Catherine S, Legal Administrative Assistant
Rhonda O, Executive Assistant
Kylene A, Office and Events Manager
Cindy C, Executive Assistant
Angela F, Administrative Assistant
Kathy J, Admin Manager
Ross G, Office Manager
New York, New York
Jackie P, Executive Assistant
West Des Moines, Iowa
Selena W, Administrative Support Coordinator
Tamiesha S, Administrative Coordinator
Marlton, New Jersey
Michela D, Executive Assistant
Mary P, Director of People & Culture
Alicia A, Front Office Coordinator
Shout out to all the Office Ninjas (in 33 cities!) who contributed stories 🙌
Linda B, Rae B, Rachelé P, Michele T, Mikki T, Marie H, Angenee T, Cynthia J, Emily O, Samantha E, Rebecca T, Amber N, Kris H, Jessica H, Danielle G, Autumn H, Adrian J, Jeannette P, Stephanie P, Claire S, Ricki H, Ali B, Aubrey L, Dannise B, Tara B, Cecilia S, Tecca W