Giving back is always nice, but if you want to engage your employees, improve your company culture and attract community-minded customers, it’s also a necessity. But giving back doesn’t always mean writing a check to your community’s big charity. So what can you still do this season to make a difference?

Host a Company Volunteer Event: Food banks and soup kitchens – especially in larger communities – are always in need of help. Contact your local organizations to see if your team could spend a few hours serving lunch or handing out food at donation centers. If your company can’t sustain everyone volunteering on the same day or your staff is too large, consider breaking your team up into shifts. Just make sure these kinds of volunteer events are done on company time to really be giving back as an organization!

Give Employees Time to Volunteer: Doing something as a company isn’t easy and sometimes, especially if you have a larger company, volunteering together this time of year might be tough to manage. While you won’t benefit from the teambuilding of volunteering together, you might also want to consider offering all of your employees one paid day to volunteer rather than come to work. That way employees can pick a cause or organization close to his or her own heart.

Donate Needed Items: Local homeless shelters and other organizations that give clothes, food and other supplies out in your community are always in need of items. If this is the route you want to go, there are a few approaches you can take. You can ask your employees to donate items and match their donation value, you can empower your leadership team to shop for those items with company money and make the donation on your company’s behalf, or, if your business makes and/or sells a needed item, consider making a larger donation of those items. Items like socks, feminine products and cleaning supplies are often high on those request lists. We’d warn against just asking employees to donate items – that’s not really your company giving back.

Donate Services: If you don’t make or sell a physical product and you don’t have the ability to match employee donations, think about what organizations might be able to benefit from a donation of services. If you own a cleaning service, could your local animal shelter use a day of deep cleaning? If you own a marketing company, could a local nonprofit benefit from your help building their 2023 campaign? There are certainly ways you can donate time and talent to make a big difference.

Donate Money: While writing a check isn’t always the right option, sometimes making a gift of treasure over time or talent is just more practical, especially this time of year. Nonprofit organizations can always use cash to help with expenses. We’d just warn against using this as a marketing ploy. You can certainly post a photo of the organization doing their great work with a mention of your donation, but unless you’re giving a life-changing amount, we’d skip the oversized check and flashy presentation. Also, a warning is in order when it comes to donating money. Lots of working Americans are struggling to get by and that certainly includes people on your staff. If you donate a large amount of money to a local organization without offering bonuses or raises to your own team, you’re likely to sow some resentment. Make sure you’re thinking about the impacts before you write that check, even if it’s well intentioned!