THE BLOG

5 Ways for You to Give Back Even If You Work for "The Man"

06/08/2015 12:39 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2016

As a child of the 1990s-2000s who grew up on Boy Meets World, I love professionally mentoring millennials who are a few years younger than myself. I have an inner "Mr. Feeny" and can't help but take young millenals under my wing.

As I've built relationships with millenials entering the workforce, I've seen a common trend. Most want to find a "greater good" in everything they do and are attracted to charity work. Heck - even my colon and rectal cancer charity isn't a hard sell among this gang... they get past the subject matter quickly when they see the altruistic work we do. And, many even want to work alongside me.

The millennial generation's desire to work for a "greater good" is awesome, but it can also lead to aimless wanderlust and short-term stints at jobs if expectations don't meet reality. And I know it's not just the millennial generation facing this - these days many want to find purpose in their work. But, nonprofit jobs can be tough to find and the for-profit sector depends on hard-working, skilled and passionate people too.

To help you not lose heart, here are 5 ideas for how you can give back through your job (even if you work for "the man").

1. Make It About You
The millennial generation may get a bad wrap for being self-focused and selfie-loving but use it to your advantage. To get yourself and others involved in a cause, make it personal. Do your homework, find a reputable charity that aligns with your cause, identify ways you want to get involved and then make a pitch for how your workplace can join you. Your pitch will go further if you explain why the cause is so personal to you. Relationships matter here.

2. Start With Awareness
Diseases, disorders, poverty, water crisis, orphans, social injustice - all issues begin with creating awareness. So if you're looking for a place to start, look at how you can make yourself and others more aware. Many charities run campaigns that produce brochures, posters, bracelets, t-shirts and other gear for people like you to distribute. Engage with their social campaign. Tell your work friends what you're doing and invite them to join you.

3. Jeans Day
Sometimes old school tactics work really, really well. To get your office engaged in your cause, create a reason for your co-workers to donate a few bucks to charity and learn more about the cause. If your office is already causal, try using food. That works too.

4. Mobilize
So let's be honest, we're all kind of lazy these days and always looking at our phones. We can't hardly go to the bathroom without checking Facebook. But, when it comes to real change, we have to push ourselves to mobilize. And that means doing something that's takes more than sending a text or posting a tweet. Many charities, both local and national, need volunteers in order to successfully operate. There's ongoing ways to volunteer as well as one-time opportunities. Mobilize and encourage your co-workers to join you and volunteer at an upcoming event or on an upcoming project. And be creative. If you have special skills in organizing, teaching, training, editing, accounting and more - a charity might even need your specialized help!

5. Work Hard for the Money
This wouldn't be a philanthropic post without mention of donations because nonprofits cannot survive without them. Many workplaces (big and small) host HR meetings where you can set up automatic donations to charities from your paycheck. Look into that - and inquire about setting it up for your preferred charity.

Also, several larger employers may engage in donation matching where employees can all deduct a donation through their payroll and the employer will match what they donate. For example at my charity during March (colorectal cancer awareness month), Credit Suisse employees and the agency raised over $24,000 for us!

If you're not technically working for "a charity" don't lose heart. Push yourself to take initiative and find ways to give back. Use your unique position and passions to further a cause - you don't have to get paid to do that!