How VolunteerMatch Volunteers: The Power of Teams

The VolunteerMatch Team at Baker Beach

My VolunteerMatch volunteer team at Baker Beach

At VolunteerMatch, we work full-time on volunteerism. But we also like to get out of the office and volunteer ourselves!

That’s why we’ve split up our staff into small volunteer teams, each led by a team captain.

Mainly, this is for encouragement. We want our staff to feel like they’re supported in their volunteer efforts. A team gives them a place to go to share what they’re working on, generates suggestions from coworkers for new volunteer opportunities, and builds momentum for volunteerism within our organization.

Recently, the volunteer team I lead volunteered at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC). It’s one of my personal favorite organizations to volunteer with in the Bay Area. The staff are incredibly friendly and organized, and I feel great giving back to a place that allows millions of San Franciscans to enjoy its services every year.

Another reason why I love volunteering with the GGNPC is their amazing group volunteering activities. With summer coming, I was looking for a volunteer project that would get me and my coworkers outside for the afternoon. I emailed GGNPC letting them know the size of my group and the dates we were available. They quickly put together a project plan for us with directions to the project site, details on what we would be doing and some information on the impact we would be making to their organization.

Our group arrived at a wooded area next to Baker Beach with a warm welcome from the GGNPC staff. They told us some amazing facts about the area (such as, San Francisco used to get its water from a stream running into Baker Beach) and the types of plants we would be seeing during the day. They instructed us on how to pull weeds and plant flowers correctly, along with how to most efficiently use each of the gardening tools.

After three hours of work, our team had worked so diligently that the GGNPC team rewarded us with a guided Nature Walk. Taking us through the woods, they showed us how volunteers like us make a difference in the natural habitat. Without our weeding and gardening, the beautiful California poppies wouldn’t be able to survive! Our nature hike ended at Baker Beach where we were rewarded with a spectacular view.

I encourage anyone – companies, organizations/ clubs, families, groups of friends – to seek out opportunities such as this.  Group volunteering is a great way to get people out of their chairs and interacting with one another. (And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, check out the GGNPC!)

CSR Food For Thought: Mandatory Corporate Volunteering?

VolunteerMatch's CSR Food for Thought SeriesThe CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

Should the Government Mandate Corporate Volunteering?
In the United Kingdom, it’s now mandatory for all companies to offer at least three days of paid VTO (volunteer time off). This Realized Worth post explores the common reactions to this mandate, and ponders whether or not this will have an effect on the U.K.’s volunteer rates.

Nominate a Company for Best Corporate Steward Award Today!
For 16 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been recognizing companies that go above and beyond as corporate stewards. Finalists are chosen in eight categories based on nominations from the public. But act quickly – the deadline to submit a nomination is May 29th.

Every Sustainability Acronym, Explained
Lost in BSRs, CSRs, CDPs and SRIs? This post from Triple Pundit has you covered. They’ve compiled a long list of acronyms and abbreviations associated with sustainability to help you navigate your way through this ever-changing, and ever-abbreviating, field.

Three Ways to Engage Employees in Environmentalism
We all know that going green is more than recycling bins in the break room and carpooling to the office. So, what are some “evergreen” strategies your company can use to create real and lasting change? This Huffington Post blog post gives three suggestions, along with examples of how they worked for the company AMD.

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Angela Parker & Chris Jarvis, Realized Worth

Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, contributors to Volunteer Engagement 2.0, VolunteerMatch's new book

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement.

In post, get to know two of the #35experts (along with their expertise): Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, co-founders of Realized Worth.

First of all, what is your chapter about?
It’s about how corporations and nonprofits can more effectively work together to create employee volunteer programs that produce value for everyone involved. From trends and challenges in workplace giving and volunteering to practical steps for effective volunteering events, our chapter covers the basics of corporate/ nonprofit partnerships and how to do it better.

Why is this topic important?
In recent years, the phrase corporate social responsibility (CSR) has taken on increasing weight. In most corporate circles, the term now carries with it important implications. At the same time, many nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly savvy corporate partners. It is essential that the two learn to work together and create value that benefits society in a way that makes this increased effort by both parties worth the resources that are being invested.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you “volunteer engagement experts?”)
Angela co-founded Realized Worth with Chris Jarvis in 2008 to help corporations around the world develop workplace volunteer programs. Today, the company’s clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, AT&T, Abbott Labs, Ball Corporation, AstraZeneca, and others. Angela holds a Global MBA from IE Business School located in Madrid, Spain.

Chris spent more than two decades working with nonprofits ranging from urban centers in North America to informal settlements in Africa. Widely known for his thought leadership, Chris was asked by the United Nations Office of Partnerships to design and launch Impact2030, the first private sector-led initiative to achieve the post-millennial Sustainable Development Goals through corporate volunteering.

What did you learn and/or struggle with when writing your chapter?
It’s difficult to communicate years of research and experience into a short chapter so that people will understand the importance of applying it in daily practice. This is a game-changing field all of us are in, and it carries enormous potential to solve social and environmental problems through the collective power of individual men and women. We hope this book will take hold of people, and they will follow-up with authors to glean even more value.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
We would advise them to do what is necessary to maintain their own belief in what they’re doing. This is a high calling. Volunteering and giving is never just about stacking boxes, raising money, and collecting cans. These aren’t transactional moments where someone gives in order to get something. These are moments where individuals can become involved in their communities and real transformation can occur.

When we volunteer, we transform into better versions of ourselves. If companies and nonprofit organizations can work together to enable more people in the workplace to realize better versions of themselves, the world will, over time, become a better place, too.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Angela and Chris’ full chapter, Partnering with Workplace Volunteer Programsorder your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.



4 Steps to Finding the Right Employee Volunteer Program Management Tools

VolunteerMatch Solutions Corporate ToolsIn our 5 Steps to Building a Successful Employee Volunteer Program download, we said that it’s important to track and report the volunteer activity taking place in your company.


Seeing results helps keep your employees engaged with and excited about your employee volunteer program (EVP). It shows the world the generous ways your company is giving back. And it proves the impact of your program to corporate leadership.

Having a system in place to capture and report this information is a must. Some companies opt for tools like spreadsheets to manage all of this data, but spreadsheets can get messy and are labor intensive. Having an EVP management system like VolunteerMatch can take the pain out of EVP reporting AND make it easier for your employees to find volunteer opportunities. All of this means more time for you to be out in the community making a positive impact rather than sitting at your desk crunching numbers!

There are no set criteria for when you should purchase an EVP management system, but clients tell us the following issues made it essential:

  1. Collecting data is too difficult, takes too much time, or exceeds the tools in place.
  2. Volunteer activity information is being stored in multiple places making it difficult to quantify.
  3. Reporting is no longer timely because it takes so long to aggregate the information.
  4. Employees want more volunteer opportunities in their community than can be managed manually.
  5. Projects become very complex, requiring things like waivers, reminders and waitlists.
  6. The internal website cannot be easily maintained, or becomes obsolete in a short period of time.
  7. Volunteer managers find themselves spending all of their time just managing signups.
  8. Recognition is difficult, as the participant lists are often inaccurate.

If a couple of these statements sound painfully familiar, it might be time to explore EVP management tools.

Fortunately, there have been a lot of improvements to the tools and resources
that are available. We’ve put together some steps you can take to find the technology solutions that will fit your specific needs.

Download the PDF: 4 Steps to Finding the Right Employee Volunteer Program Management System

2014 Impact Report: Volunteer Engagement Shows Signs of Recovery

2014 Impact Report 2“Our democracy works because ordinary folks, well-meaning people, each and every day are trying to make it a little bit better.”  -Barack Obama, May 4, 2015

Every year, VolunteerMatch crunches its network data to put together an Impact Report, our infographic version of an annual report. And each year, the report offers insights into volunteer engagement trends, and the people and causes making a difference in neighborhoods across the country.

This year, we discovered five encouraging stats that show the nonprofit sector and volunteer engagement may finally be recovering from the economic recession.

Volunteer Engagement by the Numbers:

VolunteerMatch's 2014 Impact Report

  • 99,132 – the number of groups and causes on VolunteerMatch. working to engage the volunteers they need to make a difference in their community. A record 8,200 new causes registered in 2014.
  • 20% – the increase in new opportunities posted on VolunteerMatch by local causes and groups, inviting volunteers to put their time and talent to good use for a cause they believe in, as compared with 2013.
  • 13,285,814 – the number of potential volunteers accessing VolunteerMatch to find their opportunity match to make a difference.
  • 44% — the increase in the number of potential volunteers who connected with a local cause or organization, as compared with 2013.
  • $1.34 Billion — the estimated collective impact of the volunteers who used VolunteerMatch in 2014 to get involved.


If you are looking for more data and insights into the health of volunteer engagement, view the full report.

Six Dollars for Doers Programs Doing Corporate Giving Right

Guest post by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation

Dollars for DoersAtypical children choose to mow the lawn before dad offers payment. As with any person with a job, kids want their hard work to amount to more than inherent byproducts, such as a green field with a proverbial buzz cut.

Thankfully, most nonprofit volunteers truly want to help, but a corporate incentive to volunteer regularly can enhance the value an individual can bring to his or her community.

The following list of companies with volunteer grant programs showcases businesses that place a high value on volunteerism and offer volunteer grant programs that do a great job of incentivizing and rewarding community involvement by employees.

We all know that gas is expensive, but this oil and gas giant has more incentive to donate through its dollars for doers program than not knowing what else to do with an excess of money. Chevron and other companies offer volunteer grant programs to give back to communities and to increase employee engagement.

Chevron Humankind supports nonprofits that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes as 501(c)(3) organizations or that the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) views as public charities.

Chevron’s Grants for Good Volunteers program rewards volunteerism by both employees and retirees through generous monetary gifts to the nonprofits where employees give their time:

  • 20 volunteer hours = $500 grant
  • 40 volunteer hours = $1,000 grant

While Chevron’s grants equate to $25 per hour, the money is only awarded once employees reach the above time benchmarks, and the 40 hour grant is the maximum. This ensures that grants are awarded to consistent, dedicated volunteers, and that there are enough funds to go around to all employees as well as to a plethora of organizations.

Including volunteer grants, Microsoft employees have donated over $1 billion to nonprofits over the past 30 years. Think about how many lawns you’d have to mow to make that much money.

The company started its dollars for doers program in 2005 in order to expand upon its already popular and productive matching gift program. Since then, employees have volunteered for over 2 million hours.

Employees must volunteer for a minimum of 4 hours to receive a grant. Microsoft pays $25 per hour, which easily puts it on Double the Donation’s list of leading providers of volunteer grants. This encourages employees to spend as much time volunteering as possible, as every hour can help to build towards grants worth thousands of dollars.

Since 2000, Verizon employees have volunteered for 6.8 million hours to raise money for over 54,000 nonprofits.

Employees who volunteer with an organization for a minimum of 50 hours can earn a grant worth $750 for the organization.

The maximum number of nonprofits that an employee can submit grant requests for is two. If an employee volunteers for 50 hours with two separate organizations then he or she can allocate two $750 grants.

Verizon also offers team volunteer grants for groups of ten or more employees who participate in charitable walks, runs, bike rides, and similar events. The company will match money raised by teams up to $1,000 per person and $10,000 per team. This is a great way to encourage team-building that fosters employee loyalty while, of course, helping communities.

Allstate is famous for the slogan, “You’re in good hands,” but you want to pay attention to what type of Allstate employees volunteer for you, as some nonprofits may receive better hands than others.

Allstate employees can earn $500 for volunteering for nonprofits, but volunteer benefits can go twice as far for agency owners, who receive $1,000 grants. Allstate awards its grants after employees have volunteered for 25 or more hours with a nonprofit in a calendar year.

Great coffee and great employee benefits. Starbucks encourages its employees to volunteer by offering various tiers of volunteer grants:

  • 25 – 49 volunteer hours = $250 grant
  • 50 – 74 volunteer hours = $500 grant
  • 75 – 100 volunteer hours = $750 grant
  • 100+ volunteer hours = $1,000 grant

A program with such tiers requires employees to dedicate significant amounts of time in order to earn increased amounts. This is Starbucks’ way of ensuring that employees truly care about volunteering while making sure that there is enough money to go around to all company volunteers.

Best Buy
Akin to how people seek unique clothes, some dollars for doers programs stand out by simply being different.

Best Buy does not offer individual volunteer grants. Instead the company offers team grants which makes Best Buy’s program a little different and encourages team-building among its employees.

There are a number of rules surrounding this dollars for doers program:

  • There is no minimum number of volunteer hours, but grants can only be earned when employees volunteer as a team.
  • Teams must consist of no less than 5 employees.
  • A maximum of $500 can be earned at an event, even if multiple teams volunteer.
  • Team members must volunteer for a minimum of one hour each.
  • A single nonprofit can earn up to $10,000 per year from Best Buy donations.

Best Buy’s program may require more reading than most to understand, but they encourage their employees to work in groups to better their communities. The detailed rules allow for the spacing out of gifts to ensure that Best Buy is helping out year round and aiding multiple groups and people while supporting varying causes and events.

Companies with dollars for doers programs understand that more employees will volunteer when they’re promised greater rewards, and nonprofits have a real incentive to get more people to volunteer. Of course, doing good for the world is at the heart of volunteerism, but people do more good for the world when they are able to donate money on top of lending a helping hand.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift and volunteer grant tools for nonprofits. You can connect with Adam on LinkedIn or via email.

CSR Food For Thought: The Case for Compassionate Business

VolunteerMatch's CSR Food for Thought SeriesThe CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

How Giving Hugs and Showing Compassion Will Grow Your Business
Triple Pundit states the case for kindness, compassion, and yes, even hugs, in business. While the stance can be viewed as extreme, it has data to back it up. For example, when employees at one company were given a medium to express compassion to one another, their 95% turnover rate quickly fell to 30%. Check out the article for eight ways to add compassion to your business.

10 Steps to a Dynamic Corporate Responsibility Annual Report
Over the past week, I’ve seen many companies release CSR reports (CVS Health, Dunkin’ Brands, and Tom’s of Maine, to name a few.) It’s a great way to generate buzz about your program, and, as this article from Entrepreneur reminds, to help brand your CSR program. Check out the article for 10 content suggestions to include in your own CSR report.

Three Easy Cultural Shifts to Help Engage Your Employees
When more people believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse than report being engaged at work, well, there’s room for improvement, to say the least. This Deloitte Insights article gives three easy tips for managers to increase their employees’ engagement. Of course, I would add a fourth item to this list: Offer more ways for employees to do good and give back to their communities.

CSR is Dead, Part 3: Blazing a Trail to Business Transformation
If CSR is dead, and we should shut down our CSR departments, then what happens to all the CSR professionals who have made making a difference their expertise? Part three of this series, finally released on GreenBiz last week, answers that question. So, what do you think? Are CSR departments quickly becoming a thing of the past?

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.