We all know the major reasons why companies conduct philanthropic activities: To give back to the community, to improve the business’ image, good for employee morale…the list goes on.

But when it comes to figuring out what types of events and programs to implement, we’re often stumped. Collecting donations for the local animal shelter can get old. Although any type of philanthropic service is a good thing, there may be ways to use your industry expertise to give back. Plus, these unique projects may be more appreciated by the organization than a simple monetary donation. Check out this list of three creative ideas for philanthropic programs for both small- and large-scale companies. These alternatives can help leverage your employees’ talents, skills, and abilities to complete outstanding philanthropic projects yet.

philanthropic service

The “Hack-a-thon”

Hack-a-thons are a great way to encourage your employees to leverage their outstanding skills for a greater good. In a philanthropic context, hack-a-thons typically involve a group of programmers creating a website or software deliverable for a non-profit organization in need. Although traditional hack-a-thons only involve people on the tech side of things, there’s always a way to integrate employees from every department. When holding a hack-a-thon it’s important to think beyond just building a website: Does the non-profit need a refreshed logo? What about a letterhead design or press release template? Maybe they could use a guide with brand standards for the web developers to follow.

Consider making your hack-a-thon into a learning experience for employees by encouraging some of them to swap positions and work with different departments. Or, ask them to implement a new concept they’ve just learned. You can even provide endless pizza and soda, and challenge your team to work all night, like The Nerdery’s 24-hour hack-a-thons.

The Inter-Office Competition

Everyone loves a little rivalry. If your company isn’t already arranged into teams, consider dividing people up so that there is an equal balance of skill sets and capabilities on each team. After determining the needs of the pro-bono client, have teams each design a separate version of deliverable concepts to present to the client, like a mini-pitch. Then, let the client vote on which concept(s) they like the most, and offer a prize to the winning team. At that point, both teams can move forward together to create the final assets. At LaneTerralever, we also held an office-wide election to determine which non-profit we would offer pro-bono work to first.

The Localist

Put a different spin on the “localism” trend. Take to the streets around your office’s neighborhood and look for areas of need. Could the local YMCA use a new paint job? Or do you see a high number of homeless people without access to resources they may benefit from? Keep an eye out for the little details like these, and consider how your business and empowered team of employees can fix it. Whether you’re creating marketing assets or simply donating some time and elbow grease, you’re going to make a difference.

Now that you have all these creative ideas in store, reach out to some non-profits to find out who can benefit from your assistance, and implement these creative ways to get employees excited about giving back. Do you have some more fun ways to produce pro bono work? We’d love to hear your ideas, so please share them with us in the comments below.