Please Join Us!
When: Friday, January 18 @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT/11:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Using Charity to Make a Difference
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
– Anne Frank, World War II diarist
About This Week’s Chat
Nelson Mandela, also affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba, devoted 67 years of his life to serving people. Each year, on July 18 (Madiba’s date of birth) people across the globe take part in Mandela Day by donating 67 minutes of their time to a charitable cause.
In South Africa, Mandela Day is particularly important. Each year people go “all out,” often working on charitable projects for the whole day. I live in South Africa and every year Mandela Day sparks the same discussion about donating an hour, or a day, once a year: is that the best we can do?
A Preschool Project
A few years back, the regional office of a large corporation chose to spend Mandela Day helping out at a run-down preschool. This facility served a large, but very poor, semi-urban area. The school provided two meals a day, which for many of the children was their only source of sustenance. (Needless to say, these children dreaded school holidays.)
Although the school buildings were structurally sound, they were in dire need of a coat of paint. There were few books, and no bookshelves, chairs, or even carpets or mats for students to sit on.
Early on the bitterly cold morning of July 18 (that’s in the middle of the winter in South Africa!) the employees of the head office “reported for duty” at the school. Armed with tons of paint and endless enthusiasm they started transforming the drab, peeling buildings into colorful, welcoming havens.
Also making an appearance that morning were 20 volunteer carpenters. Before long, shelves started appearing in the library as if by magic. Next, there were chairs, tables and a wooden floor. By the end of the day, the books that the company employees had collected throughout the year filled the shelves and the school had been transformed.
Later that night, with the work finally completed, the employees returned home feeling elated. The excitement and gratitude of the children and teachers at the preschool was the biggest reward they could have asked for.
The CEO, however, wasn’t feeling quite so jubilant. There was a nagging feeling that what they had done was only a drop in the ocean. They had transformed the school, but the children were still struggling to eat properly.
Shortly afterward, the company decided to initiate a project whereby employees could volunteer to cook for the children twice a day over weekends and during holidays.
Many employees involved in that project say it’s the best team-building “event” they could ever attend: they get to know each other better, they learn how to work together in less than perfect circumstances, and they learn how to do something purely for the sake of love, rather than for any material reward. Some of them have even gone as far as describing the volunteer feeding program as “life-changing.”
Using Charity to Make a Difference
This story shows how big a difference charity can make – not only to the receivers, but also to the givers. Our topic for this week’s #MTtalk Twitter chat is “Using Charity to Make a Difference.”
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
• What is your definition of “charity” in business?
• What charitable or philanthropic causes do you and your people feel strongly about, and why?
• How can an employer manage people who want to volunteer their time to a nonprofit? What are the risks?
• “It’s important to pick a cause to support that would benefit your brand image.” True or false? Please explain.
• How can working with nonprofits develop talent within an organization?
• What has your team learned from being involved with charities?
• What words of wisdom/experiences of mixing charity and business would you like to share for others’ benefit?
To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.