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How to Talk to Your Employer About Community Service

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November may be the official month of giving, but for many of us who enjoy volunteering, it’s just a time to amp up community service.

But, how can you do that when you’re practically living in the office these days? Here are three points to use when having the time-off-for-giving-back talk with your boss.

1. Pick a mutually meaningful cause.

Obviously, you want to spend your time and effort making a difference in an area that you feel passionate about. The thing is though that if you’ll be asking for time off of work to do charity work, your organization will understandably want it to benefit the company mission as well.

Take a few pointers from Michelle Burke, Marketing Supervisor for WyckWyre, the food industry HR systems online hiring tool. She says:

“Ask your boss if there’s some way you could represent them, such as with company paraphernalia, while you’re engaging in your community service. Asking an employer for this can be done best by relating the community service work being done to non-profits or outreach programs the company already supports in a different capacity.”

2. Have the details ready and potential questions answered.

Many company leaders typically welcome ideas for community outreach because not only does it show your leadership in wanting to help the surrounding community, but it also is a great way for the community you’re serving to learn more about the company you work for. However, expect to explain this in detail so that your employer feels like the grunt work in planning it won’t create a headache for your team when juggling upcoming company projects.

Jenna Elkins, a media relations coordinator for Inc. 5000 company TechnologyAdvice recommends walking into the meeting with a thorough plan. “Be ready to share details of the activity and your reason for your participation, while also addressing any potential concerns.” These concerns could be anything from the amount of time spent away from the office to conflicts in partnering with organizations that may be competitors your company’s current philanthropy.

Livia Hermiz, Account Executive at online marketing firm BrightHaus also recommends coming up with at least three doable options for your community service so that you have a bigger shot of coming to a compromise between you and your employer.

She also says it’s important to understand what’s currently going on with your company before asking. “If business is booming, and you’re about to double in employee size, it might be a hard time to organize a community service event as things will be hectic, for example.”

“Sometimes, there just isn’t a great time, and that’s fine, but I say waiting until there is a bit of calm, as creating a community service event for the company will not add to the stress of management,” Hermiz says.

She also provides a timely hook to use right now with your boss, “I would go to my boss and say ‘I know the holidays are coming up, and I think it would be great for the company to do some community service or philanthropy. Not only would it make the company look great, and build a positive community-based reputation, but it will build positive employee relations among each other.’”

That last part brings us to our last point.

3. Turn it into a team effort.

“Another idea is to ask the boss for the whole team to be involved in a community service project,” says Elkins.

“For example, I recently asked my boss if we could volunteer one morning during work hours at a local food bank. Not only did my leaders approve the idea, the whole team is excited about the upcoming opportunity to serve our community and share this positive experience with their teammates outside of the work environment.”

Ultimately, community service activities tend to be a win-win for the company and for you. As long as you are completing your work goals, your boss should have no problem with you (or the team) taking some time off to help those in need.

Now, Elkins is in charge of setting up community service events every quarter all because she gathered the guts to ask her manager for time to contribute to causes important to her. She’s standing out for the right reasons in her office, and you can too.

Remember, the answer is always “no” if you never ask. Go on, just ask!

Photo: Thinkstock

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