Corporate Social Responsibility Food For Thought

CSR Food for ThoughtThe “Food for Thought” series is a roundup of recent CSR-related news, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

Millennials Respond Better to Peers than Bosses When Asked to Give
From The Chronicle of Philanthropy:
New research in the form of The 2015 Millennial Impact Report shows co-worker relationships are very important to millennials.

(Also, check out our blog post inspired by this report: Why More Companies Should Offer Skilled Group Volunteer Opportunities)

Global Report Sheds Light on Employee Engagement Practices in Five Countries
From CSRWire: Check out the new report from Silicon Valley Community Foundation on how global companies are expanding their CSR around the world- and how your company can follow suit.

JetBlue’s CSR Report Proves It’s a Leader in the Industry
From Triple Pundit: Read about JetBlue’s 2014 CSR successes, and learn why VolunteerMatch is proud to have them as a client.

Three Ways Companies Build Better Leaders with Global Pro Bono
From New Global Citizen: Find out why some top companies are sending their top staff abroad – and what benefits they’re seeing.

Effective CSR Communication: What Tactic and When?
From Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship: CSR professionals need to work with all departments in a company to design, implement and grow their programs. Review these best practices for the marketing/ communication collaboration.

(On a similar topic, I recently wrote about 4 Simple Language Changes to Grow Your Employee Volunteer Program.)

Hope you enjoyed this Food for Thought! Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Changing Corporate Perspectives on Workplace Volunteer Programs: Q & A, Part 1

In last month’s Best Practice Webinar, we heard from Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, co-founders of Realized Worth about Workplace Volunteer Programs.

We discussed the trends and challenges they’re seeing in their work, recommendations on how to inspire employees to volunteer, and the corporation’s role in a higher calling. The webinar was full of great content and discussion, but a few questions from our audience were left unanswered as our allotted time came to a close.

Angela and Chris were kind enough to answer these questions offline. In part of this two-part series, I’m pleased to share these additional insights from Angela and Chris.

Chris and Angela of Realized Worth

Chris Jarvis & Angela Parker

Q: What do you do if your company’s CSR Manager wants to implement a volunteer program, and the CEO says, “Our employees don’t want that.”?

Imagine he’s not open to seeing CECP studies, ROI studies, etc. Is it time time for a coup??

A: This is a great question – and one we hope never comes up! The answer is actually quite simple: there is no substitute for experience. Your employees can only be convinced of the true impact of volunteering when they experience it themselves.

This begs the next question: How do you give the CEO a meaningful experience? One way is to use good old-fashioned peer pressure, by leveraging the social capital of the people around him. This includes trusted advisors, peers and even family/ friends. If the event is run well – with clear linkages to the beneficiary of the cause – transformation can occur. And when that happens, the CEO can realize the influence the company plays in helping everyone achieve that.

This may take awhile, but it’s an essential step in ensuring you have buy-in from executives.

Q: Any advice on how to shift focus from quantity of volunteer events to quality of events? And can you communicate this to get buy-in?

I believe if the markets in my company– we have about 60– directed their focus to fewer, higher quality events per year, we would see more participation from employees. Right now, we’re experiencing volunteer fatigue because there is just too much going on– some markets have 2-3 events per month!

A: There are many answers to this great question. Without knowing your specific circumstance, here are a few tips to prevent volunteer fatigue:

  • Ensure you have diverse opportunities available covering many different causes. If the events are only driven by the company (helping to achieve a “signature” cause), you may be alienating some people. Find out what people care about and encourage people to follow their passion.
  • Meet people at their highest level of contribution – find the volunteers that may be “fatigued” and ask them to play a leadership role for the people in their department. Give them the tools to plan 2-3 meaningful events that match the interests of their colleagues.
  • Focus your measurement on engagement instead of participation. This includes measuring leadership development, skills development, and manager support. You may find that higher engagement happens with less (but more meaningful) events.
  • Involve non-traditional players. Find out what HR, marketing, finance and others would want to see from a volunteering program.

Q: How can we take desk-based or lunchroom-based volunteering efforts (because of our business need, folks can’t leave the office) and make them transformational?

A: This is an excellent question, and a common issue for many practitioners. Ryan Scott outlined some interesting ways to involve on-site employees in volunteering. His article Help, I Can’t Get Up!’ Volunteering From Your Desk covers this exact topic.

Thanks, Angela and Chris! Check back next week for part 2 of this Q&A series. In the meantime, you can watch a recording of the webinar, and browse the slide deck.

Note: Angela and Chris also contributed a chapter on this topic to VolunteerMatch’s new book. Learn more.

Why More Companies Should Offer Skilled Group Volunteer Opportunities

Evidence from Cause, Influence & the Next Generation Workforce: The 2015 Millennial Impact Report.

Yes, I am a millennial. Not only that, but after reading the recently-released 2015 Millennial Impact Report, I realized: I am the spitting image of a typical millennial.

Tess Srebro

Spitting image of a typical millennial.

And I’m here to tell you what I –and my generational peers- want from our corporate volunteering.

But first, let me take you back. In 2008, I eagerly accepted my first full-time, non-summer-break job, in a field only vaguely related to what I studied in school.

The job itself was high pressure, leading to many sleepless nights. The hours were long: 50+ office hours per week; tied to the blackberry 24/7. However, I had the most amazing group of co-workers, whom I loved dearly and who made my day fun.

Yes, I had the constant, nagging feeling that I wanted to do something else, something… more meaningful. But I ended up staying at that job for 3 years, before finally seeking out that meaningfulness.

Why? My awesome co-workers, that’s why.

 “Bonds with co-workers was one of the biggest factors that made Millennials want to stay at their company for more than three years.”- The 2015 Millennial Impact Report

Co-worker BFFs_1

Me with my co-worker BFFs.

The report goes on to show that the influence of co-workers might be deeper than we once thought. Check out these surprising stats:

  • “27% of millennial employees said they are more likely to donate to a cause if their supervisor does; while 46% of employees are likely to donate if a co-worker asks them to.
  • 77% of millennial employees prefer to volunteer with groups of fellow employees, rather than doing cause work on their own.”

The report goes on to say that during its studies; it found that “Co-worker relationships not only influenced cause participation, but that these relationships also contributed to long-term happiness at work.”

The report also backs up what many of us have been saying for some time: Corporate volunteers want to use their specialized skills to make a difference.

I was recently speaking with a friend, who works for a successful tech company, about his company’s volunteerism. “It’s a waste to have people who are making $50 an hour spend their time packing boxes at a food bank,” he says. “If we could find a way to donate our skills to an organization, everyone gets more value out of the interaction,” he says.

While that may be true, I’ve also heard from others at this same company that doing team activities like food bank sorting offers valuable team-building and bonding opportunities.

How do employers reconcile this push for skilled volunteer opportunities with the parallel desire for group and team-building opportunities?

It’s actually very simple. Group volunteer projects that use your employees’ specialized skills.

There are plenty of opportunities for group volunteer activities that involve skills. If they don’t already exist, you can create them. For example, skilled-volunteer employees at Appirio complete pro bono tech projects. And employees at MUFG Union Bank venture out together to teach financial literacy.

If you’re struggling to find your company’s fit, start by offering variety. Offer volunteer time off so that employees can choose their own ways to get involved with their skills. Offer company-led group volunteer outings to get people’s minds off work for the afternoon, even if it’s not skills-based. Most importantly, listen to employees. Find out how they want to get involved, and make that possible.

Remember, co-worker bonds lead to employee happiness and retention. Both the Millennial Impact Report and my personal experience show this. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of this easy way to build co-worker relationships?

Learn how VolunteerMatch Solutions can support your company’s group volunteerism.

Registration Now Open for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

Come Together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch SummitHow does that song go? Come together, right now, over… volunteering.

Well, not quite. But The Beatles would probably approve of the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit (appropriately themed “Come Together)’s mission:

To explore ways to work across sectors, harnessing knowledge, resources and passions of volunteers to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

So, who should attend this one-of-a-kind event?

If you manage your company’s employee volunteer program, this summit is for you. If you’re a CSR professional looking for better ways to work with nonprofits, this summit is for you. If you’re with a national nonprofit and are looking for better ways to work with corporate partners, this summit is also for you.

And if you’re looking for a place to network and learn from others doing similar work with employee volunteerism, and also hear from industry experts, this summit is for you.

Registration is now open, so reserve your spot today.

CSR Food For Thought: It’s Not About the Money

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.

Why Engaging Employees on Sustainability Really Isn’t About the Money
We’ve been saying it for a while: Financial incentives are not the best way to keep employees happy. This article from GreenBiz backs us up. It explores how employee engagement strategies that give employees a chance to have a positive impact in their communities while refining their skillset come out on top. Toss some friendly competition in the mix? Even better.

How Nike Embraced CSR and Went from Villain to Hero
Today, Nike is seen as a CSR thought leader. But it wasn’t that long ago when outraged consumers regularly protested the company’s business practices. Since then, Nike has reduced water consumption, cut back on chemicals, and implemented ethical labor practices by first and foremost adopting the value of transparency. Read this thoughtful piece from Triple Pundit on Nike’s sustainability– and public image–  transformation.

Why Corporations and Communities Need Each Other
According to Cardinal Health CEO George Barrett, “nothing is more important than trust” when serving your community. In this LinkedIn post, he shows Cardinal Health’s journey of helping improve education in their local community by working with local government and overcoming negative public perception.

Encouraging Others to Volunteer, Leading by Example
Hear the story of Celso Doria, an employee at Morgan Stanley’s office in São Paulo, Brazil. He became motivated to volunteer by his company’s core value of “Giving Back,” and now he consistently gets his coworkers involved in the company’s volunteer efforts.

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

SB’15 Recap: The Employee Engagement and Volunteerism Perspective

14272922640_2e723abdc8_mCorporate social responsibility (CSR) requires a holistic strategy. Sustainability is just one piece of that strategy.

Sustainable Brands gets this. While it’s billed as a sustainability conference, it actually focuses on the whole picture: How all facets of CSR work together to improve both business practices and the communities in which companies operate.

And out of all the facets CSR, as a VolunteerMatch employee, I’m obviously most interested in employee volunteerism. It’s a win-win: It helps the communities in which employees serve, but it also helps companies in many ways – one of which is by increasing employee engagement.

This year, I was pleased to see an entire track at Sustainable Brands dedicated to employee engagement – much more than in past years. It’s great to see this benefit of employee volunteer programs brought more and more to light and take its rightful place next to other components of CSR strategy. Within the sessions in this track, some of the speakers touched on their employee volunteering initiatives, but as a whole the focus was more on engaging employees through CSR initiatives in general.

One idea that resonated with me is that we need redefine what “engagement” actually means to us. For a new program, identifying that your employees are engaged might mean a goal of 60% of employees participating in at least one project throughout the year. But once you’ve reached those goals, you need to redefine what engagement looks like to keep your programs growing and evolving.

Furthermore, something that I heard repeatedly in plenaries and breakout sessions alike was the concept of placing purpose at the center of your strategy. I couldn’t agree more! When your business has purpose and community in the center of strategy, it can’t help but become a part of employees’ day-to-day experiences.

I love attending Sustainable Brands, because it’s a place for CSR professionals, (even those who are really more focused on employee volunteering such as myself) to meet like-minded peers and hear about innovative ways that companies are placing purpose at the center of their business.

The VolunteerMatch Summit, happening this December in Oakland, CA offers a similar atmosphere for CSR professionals. However, it takes a deeper dive into one particular aspect of a holistic CSR approach: Community involvement and volunteering. Learn more.

Photo Credit: Michael Heiss

Volunteering and the Future of Cause Marketing

Guest post by Joe Waters, Selfish Giving

This post was originally published on the Selfish Giving blog.

Joe Waters, contributor to VolunteerMatch's new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldI’m excited to be one of the 35 experts in VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World.

I was surprised when VolunteerMatch asked me to contribute a chapter. I just didn’t view cause marketing as connected to volunteering – and I thought the book’s editor, Robert Rosenthal, and I agreed on this point!

You see, Robert was the guy who dissuaded me from including volunteering in my last book on nonprofit fundraising, Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New & Improved Strategies for Nonprofits.

I had considered several volunteer-related strategies for the book, but in the end I only included one: volunteer grants, also known as dollars for doers programs, which match a corporate volunteer’s time with a small grant from the company to the nonprofit.

So, why would I now write a chapter on cause marketing for a book on volunteering? Because Robert actually had a much better grasp of what volunteering is and where it’s headed than I did. Although he was right to nix volunteering from a book on fundraising tactics, he was also right that volunteering would have a major impact on cause marketing. Robert challenged me to adjust my perspective on the connection between volunteering and cause marketing.

A major hurdle for me was realizing that volunteering was more than just those little old ladies who used to stuff envelopes at my last nonprofit job.

No, volunteering is so much more.

Volunteering is when a person freely chooses to spend his or her time – unpaid – supporting a needy group or individual. A volunteer’s goal is to have a meaningful, measurable impact.

Using my new lens on volunteering, I peered out and discovered something incredible: Volunteering isn’t just connected to cause marketing; it’s the future of cause marketing. As focused as I was on defining cause marketing as a partnership between a nonprofit and for profit, I neglected the spark that makes these pacts ignite: individuals. These motivated and empowered do-gooders will be the key drivers of growth over the next generation.

You can read all about it in Volunteer Engagement 2.0!

Along with my chapter, you can read the contributions of 34 other volunteering experts.

  • Beth Kanter explains Measuring the Volunteer Program.
  • Aria Finger talks about Engaging Millennials and other Younger Volunteers.
  • Amy Sample Ward writes about Volunteer Engagement on the Social Web.
  • Scott Henderson talks about Getting the Most Out of Hackathons for Social Good.
  • Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis write on Partnering with Workplace Volunteer Programs.

This book has everything. An awesome, relevant topic, a great editor, a wonderful group of contributors and a chapter from yours truly!

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Joe’s full chapter, Volunteering and Future of Cause Marketing, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.