Giving Back to a Community in a Virtual Environment
Of those who have been given much, much is expected.
How do you give back to your community when all of your employees work virtually? That’s been a challenge for us, as cultivating our community is part of what makes us special. Being virtual offers many benefits, including being able to hire the right people, no matter their location. Of course, it also offers a few challenges that require some thoughtfulness.
The Challenge of Serving as a Virtual Community
When we think of cultivating a community, thoughts of participating in Relay for Life, volunteering at the local food bank, or giving back to youth organizations immediately come to mind. We encourage our employees to get involved in their home communities by giving them time off to volunteer, and offer a matching funds program each year to our employees to double their donation to the charity of their choice.
But at the same time, we were seeking a different type of community that we could all feel connected to, and feel as though we were truly giving back together, using our talents as a team.
Finding the Common Bond
In the fall of 2013, a non-profit group named Field of Hope contacted us to develop a curriculum for their training programs they were facilitating in Uganda. Field of Hope is dedicated to helping Ugandan farmers not only grow their own food but also understand how to store and sell their products to provide money for their families. After some thoughtful discussion, we decided this would be the perfect “community” for Vivayic to support with both our time and talents.
Our whole team was immediately excited about the chance to contribute to outreach in developing countries. We saw this collaboration as a perfect fit not only because of our learning solutions, but also because of our backgrounds in agriculture, whether it was growing up on a farm, majoring in agriculture, living on a farm or working with our clients in the agriculture industry.
As a team, we spent the next six months donating our time and specialized skills to develop a 200-level production agriculture curriculum to support the Field of Hope organization. This was not just a “good idea” or an exciting outreach effort. This was about empowering people who are in desperate need of good agricultural practices right now, so that they can feed their families. Our team truly felt as though we were making a difference in this community. And the coolest part was that it wasn’t just down the road, it was halfway around the world—and yet, we felt so connected to these farmers we had never met.
What Goes Around Comes Around
The Field of Hope group facilitated the 200-level training in Uganda in the spring of 2014. In July 2014, they came to our quarterly meeting and shared with us some photos and videos of the participants. The participants were so incredibly grateful for the knowledge, and sent a heartfelt video to us to say thanks. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was such an incredible and humbling experience for our entire team, and one that we all still discuss when we’re together.
@AngelaMMayfield @Vivayic Great time with Vivayic partners discussing African smallholder farmer training. Energized by your encouragement!— Field of Hope (@Field_of_Hope) August 1, 2014
A Virtual Community Can Be Anywhere
Finding a community or a connection to a community isn’t always easy, and it can be more challenging when your team is located virtually.
It’s not just about writing a check or spending the afternoon volunteering. We searched for a community we could give our talents to and we found the perfect fit. We suggest finding an organization that could benefit from your team’s talents and thinking outside of the box when thinking about the term “community.” You might find the perfect community on the other side of the world!
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