CSR Food For Thought: Is CSR Fading?

Image of wheat growing in the sun.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.

CSR Isn’t Dead – But it May Be Fading
In response to the recent 2degrees article CSR is Dead. So, What Comes Next?, this GreenBiz article thoughtfully reflects on the shifting role of CSR for various types of company employees. Author Ellen Weinreb asks the question: If CSR becomes fully integrated into a company’s core, will it still exist as an independent concept?

30 CSR Pros to Follow in 2015
Who doesn’t love a good best-of list? This one from Triple Pundit rounds up the best of the best CSR tweeters on Twitter. Stay connected to the CSR conversation and the get latest sustainability news by following these 30 professionals.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a Celebration of Symantec Service
This Monday, countless volunteers ventured out for A Day On, Not a Day Off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to service. Many companies got involved, too, by organizing volunteer events for employees. Symantec spreads the spirit of this American holiday across the globe and throughout the year with volunteer efforts in South Africa, Sweden, India and more.

Five Things Sustainable Companies Do
In their new report Guide to Corporate Sustainability: Shaping a Sustainable Future, The UN Global Compact implores companies everywhere to do five things. As the largest corporate sustainability initiative – they have 8,000 company participants – I’d guess they know a thing or two (or five). How many of these does your company practice?


Continue reading

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: A Rewarding Discussion on VTO

At the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit, we learned from experts in CSR, volunteer engagement, technology and program administration. In this series of blog posts, we’ll share with you the valuable insights offered at each session. In this post: REwards: The Ins and Outs of VTO.

This past year, our Client Summit REwards session on paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) was, well, rewarding. Thought leaders from Time Warner Cable and Brooks Brothers shared valuable insights and tangible takeaways for companies either hoping to launch or already fostering a VTO program for their employees. Jennifer Reed Holick and Hannah Nance walked us through different approaches for how VTO can be used, the ins and outs of pitching a VTO policy, and how to ensure robust participation while keeping the company’s best interests in mind.

Photo of Hannah Nance

Hannah Nance, Senior Specialist, Social Purpose at Brooks Brothers

The benefits of a VTO program are numerous and compelling, not just for the employee, but for the company as a whole. Hannah from Brooks Brothers explained that by giving employees the freedom to choose where they volunteer, a company is making a donation to that organization: The employee’s time, which might not have been available otherwise. While the organization an employee chooses to volunteer for might not fit into the company’s core cause areas, it means the company can have a broad presence and impact in its community. It will also prove it cares about its employees by supporting causes near and dear to its employees’ hearts.

For those employees who don’t have much volunteer experience, or don’t yet have a favorite charity, paid time off to volunteer provides a risk-free trial for them to check out a new organization or new type of volunteering. Presumably, some of your employees will go on to volunteer regularly outside of their VTO. The idea that VTO is just the foundation is core to how Brooks Brothers views the ideal commitment to service.

Photo of Jennifer Reed Holick

Jennifer Reed Holick, Community Investment Manager at Time Warner Cable

Jennifer from Time Warner Cable then dove further into how VTO can fit into a company’s volunteer program. She believes that while VTO is not critical to employee retention, it’s the “secret sauce that can take a strong volunteer program to new heights”. Her “must haves” for starting a program include: Oversight from a senior management task force, an involved legal and HR team to work out important logistics, a review of the cost implication and ROI, a strategy for maximizing results, and use of a strong management tool to support employees’ efforts, such as VolunteerMatch’s corporate toolset.

Jennifer presented deliberate and convincing formulas around the cost and return of implementing a VTO program. She shared how she opted to use conservative data when pitching her program, in order to drive home just how clear it was that the program would have positive payback.

Both Jennifer and Hannah emphasized the importance of asking key questions at the outset, such as how the program will be communicated and how much time off will be given in the policy. They agreed that it’s important to have strong, visible support from leadership. They also emphasized how important it is to “do your homework” around legal or impact issues specific to your industry, such as if employees on commission will participate, or what risks are being assumed by the company during team outings.

During this session, audience engagement and participation were high. It seemed that everyone walked away with renewed enthusiasm about the role VTO can play as the “cherry on top” of employee engagement efforts.

Interested in learning more about VTO programs? Check out the slides from this presentation.

Continue reading

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Build Support for Your Program with Employee Champions

Guest post by: Daniella Lippert

At the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit, we learned from experts in CSR, volunteer engagement, technology and program administration. In this series of blog posts, we’ll share with you the valuable insights offered at each session. Up today: REorganize: Building Support Through Champions.

Photo of Wendy Hershey, Daniella Lippert, and Annalisa Amicangelo

Presenters from left to right:
Wendy Hershey – Principal, Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.
Daniella Lippert – Program Manager, Volunteering & Engagement, CSR, Marsh & McLennan Companies
Annalisa Amicangelo – Manager, CSR, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s consciousness; it brings awareness to the inner connectivity of people, communities and companies. It’s great that VolunteerMatch clients have an opportunity to share insights and best practices. The things we learn from each other help us better leverage our business resources, assets, and procedures. They also help us continue to influence the companies we work for and to increase our positive impact in the community.

During my breakout session, I covered the topic of engaging volunteer champions within a large global organization. At Marsh & McLennan Companies, our CSR department has a twofold approach. We start with a top-down effect from corporate. Then, each operating company has a grassroots approach – they can “flex their muscles and creativity” to engage colleagues in a way that’s tailored to their individual company’s brand. The main points I focused on in the session were:

  1. Establishing a clear mission, a clear strategy, and clear goals.
  2. Creating programs, policies, and platforms that can be used across the company.
  3. Implementing incentives to volunteer.
  4. Using VolunteerMatch’s reporting function for quarterly reporting, goal setting, and evaluating.

Our CSR team supports our company’s global community, which includes offices in more than 130 countries with over 55,000 employees worldwide. Because our CSR team is relatively small, we have to be thoughtful, creative, and strategic when engaging colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures.

Our company focuses on helping communities through education and disaster preparedness/ recovery. We select nonprofit partners, and then conduct strategic fundraising campaigns and employee volunteer initiatives. Our mission provides a clear direction on what the CSR department supports, as well as what we don’t support.

By focusing our energy we can see: Better alignment with our company’s brand, increased colleague engagement, and greater social impact.

It’s important to recognize employees who are taking the time to give back their community. Our company has created fun ways to recognize and reward exceptional volunteers for tracking their community involvement on VolunteerMatch. For example, this year, our company will give the top “Walk/Run for a Charitable Cause” leaders an opportunity to win a Fitness Fitbit-Activity tracker. This is a great way to encourage employees to organize walks/runs that support their local nonprofit organizations, and to include their colleagues.

In 2013, Marsh & McLennan Companies increased engagement significantly, doubling both our volunteer hours and employee participation rate. Tracking volunteer engagement has allowed our CSR team to establish metrics and internal benchmarking. Establishing volunteer goals and creating targeted communications to increase awareness can spur healthy competition that drives engagement. Another advantage of reporting is the ability to identify cause areas, types of volunteering, and programs that motivate our employees.

For more information on building support through champions, view the slides from this session.

Continue reading

CSR Food For Thought: Why Patagonia Tells Customers, “Don’t Buy Our Products.”

Image of wheat growing in the sun.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.

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario Fights the Fights Worth Fighting
Rose Marcario abandoned her previous success to work on something she believed in – a durable and sustainable product. In this heartfelt interview with Fast Company, she gives us insight into why “sustainability and selling coexist.”

Note to Bosses: Workers Perform Better if You Give to Charity
The Conversation conducted a study with 300 college students and found that the students’ work productivity increased when a bonus was involved. Not surprising, right? But they also found that productivity increased when a charitable donation was involved. Read this article for full insight into the study, as well as insight into your employees’ motivations.

Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability
Research backs the CSR trend we’ve been seeing: More and more companies are embarking on deliberate, strategic, long-term partnerships with nonprofits. This report looks at the key findings of MIT Sloan Management Review’s sixth annual sustainability survey, which includes useful tips for successful collaboration. Find out why they conclude, “The path to success is traveled with others.”

90% of Americans More Likely to Trust Brands that Back Social Causes
Need more of a reason to make your company socially conscious? Check out this post from Mashable, complete with an infographic on why “Content for Good” is the best kind of content. Backed by research from Cone Communications and The University of Pennsylvania, you’ll find some compelling reasons to ramp up your CSR.

Continue reading

Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Advocate for Your EVP

Photo of man in suit explaining something.Companies today are asking more of employee volunteer programs (EVPs) than ever before – such as increasing brand reputation, recruiting talent, and increasing employees’ health, happiness and productivity.

You know that your programs are doing all of these things. But how can you show this value to others to get the budget, staff, tools, partnerships and cross-department collaboration you need to take your program to the next level?

Join Debbie Donahey of OhioHealth, Rachel Tallant of Appirio, and Julie VanDeLinder of VolunteerMatch as they share their stories of EVP advocacy. If you are stuck or overwhelmed, this webinar will give you practical tips, and lead you toward a plan to advocate for your EVP.

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Guest Speakers:
Debbie Donahey, OhioHealth
Rachel Tallant, Appirio
Julie VanDeLinder, VolunteerMatch

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VM_Solutions and #VMbpn.

Continue reading

A VTO Success Story: What One VolunteerMatch Employee Learned in Chile

At VolunteerMatch, we like to practice what we preach, which is one of the many reasons I feel lucky to work here. Last month, I was able to take a week off from my normal duties supporting our nonprofit community and join 11 other volunteers from around the U.S. on a week-long trip to Santiago, Chile with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program.

Shannon David ready to shovel cement.

Me in my cement-shoveling look.

When I started at VolunteerMatch just over a year ago and learned about the paidvolunteer time off (VTO) benefit offered to employees, I knew I had to make the most of it. A friend recommended Global Village, and before I knew it, I had completed a phone interview with the volunteer team leader and signed up for the trip. That was in early 2014, so I had nearly a full year to fundraise for Habitat Chile, learn a little Spanish, and talk up the trip to anyone who would listen.

We worked on a program called Nuestros Hijos Vuelven a Casa (Our Children Return Home), which supports families with children who have catastrophic illnesses or serious disabilities. Habitat Chile gets referrals from the hospital and screens the families to make sure they comply with program requirements. Then, they develop a plan to improve their existing home to better meet the physical and medical needs of the child. My team spent a week at the home of Patricia, a 17-year-old suffering from cancer. She lives with her parents and two little sisters in a very small apartment…

Read the rest of Shannon’s story.

Continue reading

CSR Food For Thought: New Year, New CSR? What the Experts Say About 2015

Image of wheat growing in the sun.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.




Eight CSR Trends to Watch Out For in 2015
In this Forbes article, Susan McPherson asked CSR experts to share their thoughts on what the field will look like in 2015. They predict new technologies for tackling social issues, shifts in the language we use when discussing CSR, and emphases on important and growing cause areas – to name a few.There’s certainly a lot to consider – and to get excited for.

How to Make 2015 the Year of Corporate Social Responsibility
After looking at hundreds of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, FrontStream noticed four themes they believe will lead to an amazing new year in CSR. They include two of my personal favorites: Creating shared value and promoting skilled volunteering. Read the full post to find out the others.

Twitter Chat Recap: 2015 CSR Trends w/ PwC & Campbell Soup Co.
This week, TriplePundit joined representatives from PwC, PwC Foundation and Campbell Soup Company for a Twitter chat all about CSR in the New Year. If you’re like me and missed the chat, don’t worry. You can read all the tweets in this post from TriplePundit, as well as a short summary of the highlights.

Doing Good is Good for Business – Corporate Social Responsibility in 2015
In this blog post, Huffington Post tells us what so many of us already know: CSR is no longer just an option or an obligation – it’s a central, critical strategy for a successful company. Using data from CECP’s annual Giving in Numbers report, we’re reminded that employee engagement is one of the greatest driving factors behind CSR. This internal CSR culture among companies will drive efforts forward in 2015.

Continue reading