Many students and educators are blessed by the opportunities available to engage with our agencies, Hanon McKendry and MINDSCAPE, and the people who make us who we are. We open our doors often to the curious minds that seek to know more about the advertising and Web industries we serve. While we give them an opportunity to learn, we also receive…in the enthusiasm, the freshness, the vulnerability of these curiosity seekers. We now also receive in another way.

We’ve started charging “admission” for an opportunity to view our agencies from the inside. We’re not charging cash, but we’re asking for something that will effect a greater good. We ask students visiting us to make contributions to our partner non-profit organizations. This semester we’re focusing on Family Promise. Students visiting our offices are asked to help fill the bins at Family Promise by bringing personal care items and gift cards with them so we can donate to families who are in need of their services.

It’s a way to help remind students that to give is just as important as to receive. Giving doesn’t always have to be grandiose, but it needs to have a purpose and satisfy the needs of the receiver. While boxes of tissue, washcloths and socks don’t further the specific daily needs of our agencies, they do further the mission of our agencies to provide great work with superior results for our clients. A number of our clients are non-profit organizations who make life just a little bit better for those in need.

When I first began blogging, I wrote about my contract with those seeking my career advice where I required they give a small portion of time to a non-profit organization by paying it forward. Receiving a great response, I took it to another application – work (as my Davenport U. creativity students would say, “A solution looking for a problem/opportunity.”). And viola, a win-win-win situation: more resources for the non-profit, more gratification for our agencies and more learning for the students.

How can you apply an idea like this to your world?