On December 1, 2015, winners of the 2015 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards will be announced at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit in Oakland, CA. In this series of posts, I’ll introduce you to people and ideas behind the ten most effective employee volunteer programs in our family of corporate clients, determined by performance against four benchmark measures in 2014.
What makes your employee volunteer program special?
At City National, we like to say that supporting our communities is in our DNA; it’s an integral part of our culture, and defines who we are as individuals and as a company.
We have a number of signature volunteer programs, including our annual PRIDE Day (a bank-wide day of service), Reading is The way up® to promote literacy, and Dollars + Sense to bring financial education to under-served communities.
While many of our programs are promoted “top-down,” driven by executive involvement, many more of them are “bottom-up,” created and implemented by employees who had a great idea and are empowered to bring it to life.
What impact has your program had on your office or company as a whole?
In 2014, City National conducted a volunteer program survey of employees to learn more about the impact of our volunteer programs. Over three-fourths (78%) of respondents indicated they are happy in their experience with the volunteer programs at City National. When asked if it was important to work for a company that supports the community, 90% agreed or strongly agreed, and 86% feel proud to work for City National as a result of the bank’s community involvement efforts. Eighty-two percent believe City National does a good job supporting local communities in which colleagues live and work, with 70% satisfied by the range of programs offered. Additionally, 65% have shared positive stories about City National’s community programs with others outside the bank.
While we have received numerous awards and recognition from various groups for our efforts, the impact on our employees and how it makes them feel about being a City National colleague is perhaps the most rewarding benefit of our culture of volunteerism.
What are some volunteer-related accomplishments that you’re especially proud of?
There are three signature volunteer programs we are especially proud of and in very different ways. These programs further the bank’s goals and objectives, build internal teamwork and morale, engage family and friends, and make measurable impact in the communities where we work and live.
- Dollars + Sense Financial Literacy Program – We are committed to providing financial education to low-to-moderate income populations where the need is greatest. City National Bank colleagues teach one hour lessons on topics such as saving and fiscal responsibility, credit smarts, and managing a budget. Within the last couple years, our program has expanded to include other languages, young adult and adults, and grown in volunteer hours.
- Holiday Giving – Colleagues work within their teams to find families who are in need and donate food and necessities. It’s a special time for our colleagues to build team morale while bringing a bit of holiday cheer in our communities.
- Community PRIDE Days – During fall of each year, hundreds of City National colleagues clad in City National Bank blue community shirts participate in our annual day of service projects. It’s an opportunity to have community engagement beyond the work day and encourage family and friends to participate. These service projects are inclusive events that range from large projects like sorting and packing food at local food banks to small projects like writing letters for troops serving abroad.
Do you have a volunteer-related story you’d like to share?
In many ways our most inspiring volunteer story is the story of our annual Back-to-School Supplies Drive. It shows the full circle of how volunteering helps the volunteer as much or even more than the target audience.
Years ago, a small group of employees collected a few boxes of school supplies to benefit a local school near our Los Angeles headquarters. They had the idea that it could be bigger and better and asked how they could make this happen. So they formed a committee and recruited key volunteers in all our major markets to collect supplies throughout to donate to local Title 1 schools, where the majority of students qualify for subsidized meals.
Over the years, the program has been refined so that rather than collect many individual items, we leverage our purchasing power through a vendor for colleagues to buy complete, pre-filled, fully stocked backpacks that are donated, along with a box of copy paper and an office supply store gift card. In 2015, the program provided over 1,100 backpacks to 41 organizations in all 5 states where City National offices are located. When the backpacks are delivered, they include a tag with the name of the colleague who purchased it and often a message encouraging the student to succeed in school, and the colleagues often receive a personal thank note from the student in return.
All from a great idea that started with just a few employees who wanted to help make the school year better for some students who might be struggling to afford a backpack and the basics tools for success in school.
Want to find out if City National Bank is the winner of Employee Volunteer Program of the year? Join us at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit.