By Paul Barasa
A colleague of mine has been playing Christmas jingles for the last one week. My local mall is already glowing with the Southern stars only that this time round the stars are centrally controlled by our unreliable power provider. Wait, I even spotted a Christmas tree in town, complete with Father Christmas watching over.
That time is here with us. Exactly 34 days left, before Christians troupe back to “Bethlehem” to offer their gifts. Corporates are not left out. This is the time when they are all competing to pay their “annual dues” to children homes, old people homes et-al. Christmas is the time for giving and corporates are about to open their wallets to give back to the community.
Marketing and communication organisations will come up will come up with unique fundraising tactics to top up their corporate wallets before they throng into children homes to give back to the society they never thought about the whole year. Is that the best way to do it ?
Businesses in almost every industry wind up with unused or obsolete (at least from a sales point of view) products and supplies. Give out the many promotional items that you kept on saving for the next big event. You won’t need them next year because they will be old fashioned and your brand strategy will most likely change. While at it, don’t rush to Mama Ngina Children’s Home, start with your guards both at the office and in your estate, they surely deserve an umbrella and a cap this rainy season.
Volunteerism is the best way to make a long-term impact. Teach, teach and teach. You can teach an organization to maintain its own website, or handle its bookkeeping, or create more effective outreach materials… charities are often the ultimate in bootstrapping. Anything you can help a charity, or the people it serves, do more efficiently helps their dollars go farther. Imagine if you offered to spend 6 hours in December to impart photography knowledge to the youth in your local church. Giving should be voluntary, not mandatory.
Apart from soup which is averse to many cooks, everything else can be made easier when you work together. You don’t have to spend money from your own pocket. Sparing your team lunches for a week would make an enviable kitty for countable gifts this Christmas. The more specific the cause, the more likely people are to participate. You can participate in an established event or create your own. The more creative the better—and the more likely you will be to inspire others to give. In the process you will create a sense of community and shared purpose within your team.
I hear of companies that contribute each month Ksh 1 which goes into this kitty. This could be a noble idea; however do you think this can grow your social capital. Why wait until the end of the year to donate few packets of unga, sodas and bread to children who have been suffering the whole year?
Again I ask why should Corporate Social Responsibility become a one day affair?
Let’s not make Christmas a one off affair but strive to support families throughout the season.