Challenge Your Employees to Go Pro Bono: A Lesson from Morgan Stanley

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: Morgan Stanley.Volunteers from the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge

Morgan Stanley doesn’t just encourage its employees to volunteer. It challenges them. The Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge pairs some of the company’s best workers with 12 nonprofits for eight weeks. During this time, the groups work together to assess and improve the nonprofits’ business and financial strategies. The final result is a plan complete with tangible next steps and tools for future success. The results are invaluable, but if you had to put a price on it, it would be… $6.8 million. This five-year total is equivalent to 45,000 hours of pro bono work.

But it’s not just the nonprofits that benefit. Morgan Stanley employee David Kosh, who participated in the program in 2013, claims the experience was “eye-opening, educational and inspirational”. He learned about the nonprofit sector, gained professional connections, and improved his own skills. Pro bono work, along with other types of volunteering, is truly a win-win arrangement.

Want to be the next Morgan Stanley in terms of pro bono excellence? Visit VolunteerMatch Solutions to learn how to get your company’s employees volunteering.

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Raising the Pro Bono Bar: The U.S. Bank Law Division

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: The U.S. Bank Law Division.Volunteers from US Bank Law Division

Pro bono work was made famous by the law profession, and the crew at the U.S. Bank Law Division is living up to this precedent.

The U.S. Bank Law Division works all across the U.S. at places such as a Vet Law Clinic, Housing Court, Immigrant Law Center, and Children’s Law Center. In the Twin Cities region alone, they’ve donated their time and skills to eight clinics.

In 2013, 70% of their lawyers engaged in pro bono activities. Even their non-lawyers got involved at a rate of 52%. The U.S. Bank Law Division is rightfully proud of their staff. Talk about impressive! They cite pro bono work as a priority for both their employees and their company as a whole.

Pictured above are some of the U.S. Bank’s pro bono volunteers. From left to right: Melissa Vermeersch, Sarah Stroebel (Chair), Jeannie Mccarver, Shannon Mahoney (Coordinator), Kyle Bakken, and Nick Richtman.

Encourage your own employees to get involved with pro bono and other volunteering opportunities with VolunteerMatch Solutions.

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Pro Bono Week 2014: Celebrating Work “For the Public Good”

Pro Bono Week 2014 #PBW14 TwitterPro bono. We’ve all heard this strange phrase, but what does it actually mean?

Pro bono comes to us from the Latin “pro bono publico”, or “for the public good”. It’s a special form of volunteering where people use their professional career skills for a good cause.

At VolunteerMatch, we love pro bono. When volunteer roles align with expertise, everyone wins. How? If your company facilitates and encourages pro bono work for its employees, you gain valuable connections with and respect from your community. Your employees gain new ways to practice their skills. And everyone gets to feel the joy that comes with making a difference.

So this week, VolunteerMatch, along with others all over the world, is celebrating this wonderful form of volunteering. It’s Pro Bono Week 2014!

In honor of this exciting week, we’ll spend the next few days highlighting stories from some of our clients whose employees engage in pro bono work. For example, Christie’s created the Arts Assembly volunteer fair, in which their trained auctioneers assist in the planning of benefit auctions. Just this year, they’ve helped with 161 auctions across the world and in turn helped nonprofits raise more than $28 million. Go Christie’s!

Help us celebrate this week by:

  • Exploring #PBW14 on Twitter and sharing your stories.
  • Find a local event, such as those sponsored by Taproot Foundation.
  • Swing by the VolunteerMatch site to find a pro bono volunteering opportunity of your own.
  • Encourage your employees to get involved with pro bono and other volunteering opportunities with VolunteerMatch Solutions.
  • And stay tuned to our blog this week for more stories of people working “for the public good”!
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VolunteerMatch’s Engagement Team Just Got Stronger

Tess Srebro - VolunteerMatch's Newest Employee

Tess Srebro, VolunteerMatch’s Lead Generation and Marketing Associate

The following post is by Tess Srebro, VolunteerMatch’s newest employee. Please join us in welcoming Tess to the team!

When fantasizing about my dream job, I pinpointed a few non-negotiable qualities it would possess.

First, I needed a nonprofit. After spending two years earning a Master’s of Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University, that was a given. But it couldn’t be just any nonprofit – I sought one whose mission was centered around technology. I believe there’s so much untapped potential for technology to contribute to social good. VolunteerMatch uses technology to connect good people and good causes. Check.

Second, I needed to write. A love of language has been a core part of me throughout my life. I discovered that through nonprofit marketing, I could put this love to a professional use while having an impact. VolunteerMatch was seeking a Marketing Associate. Check.

Finally, I needed to trust in the organization. I value efficiency, accountability and openness. VolunteerMatch embodies these qualities, while being extremely successful at what it does. Aaaaand check.

I feel incredibly lucky, honored, and most of all excited to join the VolunteerMatch team in this “dream job”. As Lead Generation and Marketing Associate, I’ll be supporting companies in their volunteer engagement efforts. I admire companies that give back to their communities and encourage their employees to do the same.

To learn more about me, my history, and projects I’ve worked on, visit tessasrebro.com. I can’t wait to get started helping more companies get involved with volunteerism, and in turn, make it easier for more good people to connect with more good causes.

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How to Design a Volunteer Program for Your Small Business

Guest post by Scott Huntington

Tips for designing a volunteer program for your small business.As a small business, finding ways to give back is important. Volunteering is a way to do something “better” for the community your business is in. It allows your employees to cooperate in a new way and creates a sense of empowerment.

However, creating a volunteer program for your business might not be the easiest task in the world. With thousands of choices available, how do you decide in which direction to proceed?

Why Choose a Cause?

Even though the benefits for giving and volunteering in the workplace are hard to dispute, many small business struggle to choose a specific cause to support. It’s difficult; you may have employees with a variety of causes close to their hearts, or have hesitations about aligning with one specific cause. When these barriers exist, volunteering efforts fall short, never take off or become scattered. None of these help your mission to give back. Choosing a cause and committing to it is a good way to stay focused and effective in your volunteer program.

5 Questions to Consider When Designing a Program

Below are a few questions and factors to consider when creating a volunteer program for your small business:

1. Does my business already donate to something?

Does your business already donate to a specific cause? If so, developing a volunteer program can be a no-brainer; simply align your actions with your giving. It’s likely your employees are already engaged in the cause and would be enthusiastic if volunteer opportunities would become available. If they’re not engaged, it may be time to find something that they’re more likely to care about.

2. Is there a natural relationship between our products/services and a specific cause?

Think about the products and/or services your business provides. Is there a natural link between those services and ways you could volunteer? For example, a shoe retailer could donate shoes to an underprivileged country – like TOMS has been doing for years. From there, the company could create mission trips and other ways for employees to become involved in the giving process.

Smaller companies like Mr. Rooter or AquaPhoenix, where clean water is the entire point of their business, could find a charity that is dedicated to providing the world with clean water. Food business or wholesalers could donate food to local food kitchens and employees could volunteer on a rotating schedule. Is there a natural link between your products and a volunteering opportunity? If so, that’s a perfect place to start.

3. Is there a local charity you could become involved with?

Sometimes the biggest movements start locally. Local initiatives are likely to be important to your employees and make excellent starting points for volunteerism. Run a search on a site like VolunteerMatch.org or reach out to your local Chamber to find out what charities surround your business’s physical location. Find out if there’s a way to get involved.

When you volunteer locally, you’re able to see the results first hand, and this could raise the excitement factor among your employees. It also can create a little positive buzz about the company and maybe even get your name in the local paper, which is always a plus. That shouldn’t be your motivation, but it’s a nice perk of going local.

4. Does my business have past ventures or partners that could have available volunteering opportunities?

Look back over the history of your business. Have any of your past clients been nonprofit organizations or charities? If so, you could revive the relationship by looking for ways to volunteer with those past clients. It adds a personal factor that highlights the fact you value your past clients and customers.

5. What matters to my employees?

While your employees may change from time to time, it’s still important to empower them to get involved in the design of a volunteer program. Set up a meeting to announce your company’s new focus and let them know their input matters. From there, put together a survey and encourage all employees to participate. You could provide a list of 5 potential charities, or ask employees to submit their own ideas. Look for overlap and narrow it down to two. From there, hold a vote. When your employees feel as though they’ve been a part of the process, they’re more likely to take ownership and to become involved in the volunteering process.

Creating a volunteer program is an essential aspect of giving back to and becoming part of your business’s community. If you’re unsure of where to start inside your company or organization, consider the 5 questions above prior to moving forward.

Has your small business implemented a volunteer program? Tell us about it!

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger with a passion for volunteering. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com.

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Profile of a Champion: How Carla Lehn Inspires Engagement at California State Library

California State Library is a Preferred Partner of VolunteerMatch.Before this year’s exciting VolunteerMatch Client Summit, you got the chance to meet some of the finalists for the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards. And then, you found out the winners.

Two award categories, however, are unique, in that they don’t have finalists – they are chosen by VolunteerMatch Client Relations Managers based on their experiences working directly with their corporate clients. These special categories are Breakout Performance and Champions of the Year.

We’re especially excited about one of our Champions this year, because it marks the first time any non-corporate client has won a Corporate Volunteer Award. Carla Lehn from California State Library wowed us all this year with her outstanding teamwork, leadership, accomplishment, dedication and spirit.

Carla Lehn accepts her Champion of the Year Award, with VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin.

Carla Lehn accepts her Champion of the Year Award, with VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin.

California State Library is part of the VolunteerMatch Preferred Partner Program. This program works with a select group of nonprofits and civic organizations that have partnered with VolunteerMatch to place a special focus on volunteer recruitment, retention and engagement. (Want to know more? Give us a shout.)

A VolunteerMatch member since 2009, the California State Library organization connects over 600 volunteers to their local libraries each month. Since 2008, the number of volunteers recruited by the Library has increased by 48%!

Carla’s tireless enthusiasm, energy, and drive amazes the entire VolunteerMatch Staff on a regular basis. The strides made due to her efforts have helped thousands of individuals become more involved in their local community and have truly created positive change across the state of California.

“It was so nice to be recognized, but I felt like all my library and VolunteerMatch colleagues should have been standing there with me,” said Carla. “We’ve had some awesome successes together!”

Kudos to Carla Lehn for being a VolunteerMatch Champion of the Year. We salute you and your hard work!

To learn more about the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards, click here.

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CSR Food for Thought: Do It Like Sir Richard

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Do it like Sir Richard. The gutsy, entrepreneurial approach to profit and purpose.

Today’s business world is characterized by big, bold risks. The weirder the innovation, the bolder the idea, the more investors seem to clamor to buy a piece of the pie. Yet, when it comes to charity and philanthropy (in the corporate sector, as well), we are schooled to NEVER take risks, to never step outside the tried and true comfort zones. How will we ever innovate? We can all learn some things from Richard Branson, who has been as bold – and as successful – in the cause-driven sides of his businesses as he has with the profit margins.

Cause marketing realignment forces evolution of strategies

Gone are the days when a company could buy into a pre-packaged, once-a-year cause campaign focused on a “sexy” issue like breast cancer or heart health, and call it a successful strategy. Companies are waking up to the need to align cause marketing with the promise of the company’s brand, and the relationship they have with consumers. This is impacting the way companies create partnerships with nonprofits, making these relationships longer, stronger and more strategic.

#NewMetrics ’14 Workshop Reveals Secrets to Effective Employee Engagement

Spoiler alert: The secrets to effective employee engagement start with recruiting employees that are more likely to care about the issues you focus on (like sustainability), and then creating an environment that encourages them to be proactive, innovate, and be recognized for their contributions. This recap from the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’14 event provides some specific strategies for doing this and increasing employee engagement and business success in the process.

Good Business

Speaking of cause marketing, a great cause marketing campaign can be a very successful marketing tactic for companies to reach and connect with consumers – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways in which companies and nonprofits can work together.  Bruce Burtch describes how building strong, lasting, strategic cross-sector partnerships can create disproportionately large benefits for the company, the cause, the community, and really the whole world. (Want to hear it from Bruce directly? Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, October 22nd!)

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