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Culture - May 4, 2017

Pay it Forward: How Giving Back Helps YCharts Move Forward

At YCharts, we’re fortunate to have a smart, hard-working team, dedicated to spending a lot of time working to make our clients’ lives easier. However, we know that the list of people we can help doesn’t stop at our clients. That’s why, a few weeks back, we decided to take that same laser focus we apply at the workplace and use it to make a difference in our community. The YCharts “Pay It Forward” Service Day was a great reminder of the importance of making a positive impact not just in the markets we serve, but also in our local communities. And on top of that, we had a great time doing it. Read on if you’d like to know more about how we went about “Paying It Forward.”

We split our offices into teams and designated each with a “leader,” who was equipped with funds and a mission to come up with ideas for community-oriented random acts of kindness. Each team broke off and separately decided on an activity they felt would make an impact, then dispersed across our respective cities, Chicago and New York.

Pay It Forward Day gave our team members an opportunity to to think on their feet, collaborate with one another, and make a difference. It was inspiring to see how each group interpreted our mission, #ServicePaysDividends, in their own way:

Today’s youth may struggle to find positive influences to look up to, especially in underserved communities throughout Chicago. “Littles” at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chicago also don’t often have the opportunity to experience the excitement of sporting events in their city. One group Paid It Forward by fundraising to provide Chicago White Sox tickets to as many children in the organization as they could.

Another group took a similar route to Pay It Forward. Many students in Chicago drop out of school partly because they cannot afford transit tickets to get to and from there. The team decided to Pay It Forward by purchasing CTA tickets for an outreach center of the organization Stand Up For Kids, helping at-risk and homeless youth and young adults continue their education.

Our New York office wanted to Pay It Forward to a local non-profit organization, VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, as organizations like this are often neglected when it comes to funding. The team made a trip to the organization to determine what was needed most, which happened to be arts and crafts supplies. With an idea on what to provide, they purchased and delivered the supplies. After learning about further volunteer opportunities at the organization, our NY team signed up to continue Paying It Forward.

Additionally, the team pooled their remaining Pay It Forward funds and donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease, and a foundation close to one of our team members.

Another YCharts group decided to Pay It Forward to a local Chicago hospital. Hospital workers, patients and guests are under constant stress — be it saving a life, undergoing medical treatment, or being a caregiver. This team raised money to buy dozens of Starbucks gift cards and passed them out at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to brighten the day of many hospital visitors and staff. Each gift card was accompanied by a special note inviting the recipient to “Pay It Forward.”

With the remaining money left over from fundraising, our team decided to give out cash to people on the street with “Pay It Forward” notes that included suggestions for other acts of kindness, such as “hold the door for the person behind you today,” “donate to a charity today,” and “buy food for an animal shelter.”

Chicago has many citizens who are less fortunate, living in less-than-ideal conditions. Our last YCharts group split into pairs and made it their mission to Pay It Forward to various people around the city, including the homeless, underappreciated doormen, etc. Based on their conversations with these individuals, and after determining each person’s specific needs, the team delivered care packages, including snacks and drinks, a takeout lunch, or bus fare and an “I love you, Mom” gift for a homeless individual who just wanted to get home to see his mother. With these care packages, this team helped several Chicagoans achieve some of their everyday needs or aspirations.

With our “Pay It Forward” Service Day, our goal was to give back and put smiles on the faces of those less fortunate in our communities. Not only did we succeed in our goal, but we also had smiles on our faces. Our team felt at the end of the day that they “received,” in the form of perspective and joy, at least as much as they “gave.” It brought a sense of fulfillment to our team and reminded us of how grateful we are to be in a position to “Pay It Forward.” As we recapped our day, our CEO, Sean Brown, said that “Pay It Forward” Day was his favorite thus far at YCharts, and that he hopes to make it an annual tradition. One act of kindness can create a domino effect, and we hope that’s what we accomplished today.

To see more activity from this and other service days at YCharts, check out #ServicePaysDividends on Twitter.</p

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