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The Year of Giving

Mary Widmer | Jan 6, 2017 Mary Widmer 01/06/17

As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, we’ve been reflecting on everything we’ve accomplished, where we’re going, and who we are. Since our inception, the spirit of service has always been in our nature. It’s in our name, and it’s the first of our five core values—Service, Respect, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork—so we knew we wanted to incorporate the idea into the 25-year celebration in a meaningful way. We are fortunate to be a talented group of people who have most of our needs met—and we wondered how we could share that abundance with others. Out of that, the Year of Giving was born.

Employees were encouraged to give 25 hours of their time—half of which were given as increased paid time off—to help others. We wanted to give everyone the flexibility and encouragement to explore their own interests and seek needs that resonated with them. We built relationships with a huge variety of organizations—Ronald McDonald House, Greater Boston Food Bank, Autism Speaks, Great Plains SPCA, Lead to Read, Freedom Fire Urban Ministry, just to name a few—and it was awesome to see where each individual’s passions lay. Our expectations of the impact we’d make were far more than exceeded. We knew we’d make a difference outside the company, but the change within the company was the real surprise.
Year of giving

A huge part of that is due to the organizing committee. The group was a constant example of authentic passion for the work they were doing—which proved to be contagious throughout the entire organization. And their enthusiasm for the project absolutely did not wane. They genuinely walked-the-walk, and inspired us all to stay motivated and empowered to participate the entire year. Their guidance was the perfect embodiment of the spirit of giving, and gave the opportunity for new leaders to emerge and thrive.

The Year of Giving evoked a fresh spirit of community within our organization. One of our goals for next year is to increase team-building across departments, and the initiative gave us a huge jump-start. Our headquarters here in KC, and offices in Boston, London, and Tokyo kept each other encouraged and inspired to keep the giving going by posting photos on the company network. The entire organization truly caught the “giving bug”—and because of the momentum, we’re excited to include the program as part of our core culture going forward. SMG will be giving employees eight working hours to spend giving back to the community in 2017. Hearing everyone share their passions and encourage each other truly humanized everyone involved in the Year of Giving—and we’re looking forward to keeping the tradition alive for years to come.

Mary Widmer
Chief Strategic Officer