The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Day of Service is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country step up to make communities more equitable and take action to create the “Beloved Community” of Dr. King’s dream. While Dr. King believed the Beloved Community was possible, he acknowledged and fought for systemic change. His example is our call to action. This National Day of Service encourages companies, nonprofits and individuals to make a difference on MLK day.
During the last quarter-century, the MLK Day of Service has grown, and its impact increased as more Americans embraced the idea that citizenship involves taking an active role in improving communities. Here’s how to make a difference on MLK day, taking place on January 15, 2024, regardless of whether you’re working solo, as part of a corporate team or with a nonprofit organization.
Things Companies Can Do for MLK Day
Companies have a unique opportunity to participate in MLK Day, both by encouraging employee engagement and addressing racism and bias in the workplace. First, be sure to put together an internal communications plan that encourages employees to get involved and notifies them leading up to the day. You may also opt to organize a corporate volunteer project for your team or give paid volunteer time off for this day. If you need help with your employee engagement efforts, Points of Light’s Corporate Services & Solutions can be a great resource.
If you haven’t hosted training or education on racism, bias and inequalities in the workplace, make an effort to implement this, starting with MLK Day. Acknowledge that discrimination still exists and open the floor for your employees to discuss diversity in the workplace. Start off with this Listen. Learn. Act to End Racism conversation featuring Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center, that also offers additional resources for deeper learning.
Other ways you can help employees engage in this work might be centered around an educational opportunity, like a “Lunch and Learn,” to explore microaggressions, biases in communication and more. It could be a meeting that allows for challenging conversations about identity. Or it could be an all-staff email that recognizes the existence of discrimination and reiterates an open-door policy to address these issues with management.
How Nonprofits Can Support MLK Day
Nonprofit organizations can utilize MLK Day to spark engagement among employees and volunteers alike in a variety of ways. Your nonprofit might run a donation drive, host an event at a food bank or shelter, or run a campaign for donors to give to a specific cause related to dismantling racism and discrimination.
If your organization hasn’t yet, consider adding your volunteer opportunities to Points of Light Engage, the world’s largest digital volunteer network. This collection of volunteer opportunities from sites across the web provides the most comprehensive database of volunteer opportunities in the world. Additionally, you can browse the Points of Light Global Network to find a nonprofit partner near you to see what events they have planned for this day.
Ways for Individuals to Make an Impact on MLK Day
Volunteering is an effective way to create the change you wish to see in your community. Head over to Points of Light Engage to get started. It’s a place that connects individuals to hundreds of thousands of volunteer opportunities — in person and virtual — all just waiting for the right volunteer to step up.
You can also check out Points of Light’s collection of DIY projects to find a project you can complete in your spare time. And don’t forget that even the smallest act of service, like caring for a sick loved one or picking up your elderly neighbor’s mail, counts as civic engagement and can create a ripple of positive impact in your own backyard and beyond.