5 holiday charity ideas for your office

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capital_Area_Food_Bank_Volunteers_-_Flickr_-_USDAgov.jpg

(MoneyWatch) This year, why not urge your company to start a tradition of giving as a group? You can help more people than if you gave your time and money solo. Charity initiatives can also give your team a morale boost that has positive effects well into the new year.

"Allowing people to volunteer on company time sends a strong message that you value both the community and your employees," says Susan Lucas-Conwell, CEO of Great Place to Work, a human resources consulting firm. She adds that her firm looks at charity initiatives as a key ingredient contributing to employee satisfaction. "A defining feature of a great workplace is that employees feel connected to something larger than themselves," says Lucas-Conwell.

Here are some ideas for company giving. Have better ones? Sign in below and share them in the comment section.

Sell admission to Casual Friday. Have everyone vote for a cause, then ask them to donate to the chosen charity in order to wear jeans at the end of the week.

Auction off a day off. Create teams and use an online fundraising tool like GoFundMe to see which team can raise the most funds. The winning team gets to play hooky for a day.

Have your CEO serve the staff. The Akron Food Bank came up with a idea of having executives serve a meal to their underlings in exchange for a donation. Have a super small company? Invite your staff to your home for a meal.

Help clothe other workers. Dress for Success and Career Gear are two well-regarded organizations that help financially struggling men and women dress properly for interviews and jobs.

Hold a food drive -- and offer prizes. The key here is picking a prize that motivates people to participate. For instance, put the top parking spot for a year up for grabs. 

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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