Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Show Me the Value – Committing to Impact Measurement

Do your volunteer programs generate social and business value? Apollo Group and True Impact share how measuring employee volunteerism helps to prove – and improve – your impact on society, employees, and the company’s bottom line. Learn tips for how to leverage impact data to communicate with leadership and guide continuous program improvement.

Show Me the Value: Committing to Impact Measurement

Register for this FREE event
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
10-11 a.m. PT (1-2 p.m. ET)
Follow the conversation on Twitter @VM_Solutions, #VMbpn

About Our Guest Speakers

Farron Levy, True Impact

Farron Levy, president and founder of True Impact, specializes in triple-bottom-line assessments, having helped a broad range of companies and their nonprofit partners evaluate the impacts of their social and environmental investments. Farron is a member of the Reimagining Service Council. He earned an MPP in Business and Government Policy from Harvard University, and a BS with university honors from Carnegie Mellon University.

Lauren Keeler, Apollo Group

Lauren Keeler is the Director of Community Engagement for Apollo Group working to help support the organization’s nonprofit partners through engaging staff, students, faculty and alumni in high impact opportunities to give back. In her role she engages internal stakeholders in the CSR and engagement conversation to promote community engagement and volunteerism as an essential part of the workplace.

Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship to Moderate Panel on Impact Measurement at 2011 VolunteerMatch Client Summit

The 2011 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, May 12-13th at The Art Institute of Chicago, is coming up and we are excited to share with you the speakers and events of the day.  Here are a few details about our main panel discussion, which takes place in the morning, before the networking luncheon.

This year’s panel discussion will focus on “Measuring The Business Impact of Community Involvement Programs”, with moderator Vesela Veleva, Sc.D., Research Manager, from the Carroll School of Management at the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College. Dr. Veleva will present corresponding research from BCCCC and lead a discussion with two VolunteerMatch client companies.

Getting Closer to the Triple Bottom Line with VTO

By Denise Howell, VolunteerMatch CFO

VolunteerMatch Employees Volunteering at Friends of the Urban Forest, 2014

VolunteerMatch employees volunteering with Friends of the Urban Forest, 2014

For businesses, nonprofits and government, measuring and reporting on their success is no longer just about profitability, shareholder value and return on investment in the traditional accounting sense. We are moving to the “triple bottom line” of profit, people and planet. Here at VolunteerMatch, we place just as high an emphasis on our social value impact as our financial performance.

Although measuring social contributions and sustainability is still very much evolving, every measure we take is vital. One factor which is easy for your organization to incorporate is a paid time off for volunteering policy (VTO) as an employee benefit.

On the face of it, it doesn’t make great financial sense. If your employees are out of the office, they aren’t at work meeting deadlines, or otherwise contributing to the company’s profitability and success, right?

The evidence is very much to the contrary.

VTO, as part of a comprehensive strategy toward an organization’s overall commitment to sustainability and community offers a substantiated plethora of benefits to companies – this explains why 60 percent, according to a 2014 CECP report of 261 of the world’s largest companies, offer VTO as a benefit to their employees. Studies by the Society for Human Resource Management put this number decidedly lower, likely because they have a broader base of employers including smaller organizations, but their annual research still indicates the percentage is on the rise and climbing each year.

Let’s explore some of the benefits, both short and long-term, of VTO policies. No one out there would disagree that attracting the most talented employees is more competitive than ever. We see this in California every day. This year marks the first year in which the Millennial Generation becomes the majority of the US workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

Millennials have an unjustified reputation for being self-absorbed, probably, in part, because of the “selfie” craze. The Millennial generation is perceived by many as leading the charge, which would imply a degree of narcissism. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey provides a clear message to employers that a majority of Millennials do not believe business is invested enough in their commitment to the immediate communities in which they operate, and to society overall. Yet, this is an explicit priority and a decisive factor for Millennials in deciding whether to accept a job offer and remain loyal to a company.

All companies need to attract the best talent, so with the rise of Millennials in the workforce, it will be imperative for companies to make policies such as VTO a priority. Some companies, such as Patagonia and Dow, go the extra mile. They acknowledge their commitment to global sustainability and their values around the world by offering employees an opportunity to volunteer internationally at nonprofits which support their values.

Employees are every organization’s biggest investment. If you can’t attract the best talent, your company will suffer by losing the sharpest, most innovative and productive employees, and this will cost in both the short term and long term. CFOs know that less turnover certainly leads directly to cost efficiency. Less time and money on recruiting and training allows for greater focus on your mission. And, when employees are out providing valuable service to our communities, they are our partners in engaging the triple bottom line.

While I can’t provide financial metrics related specifically to VTO policies, I can share some powerful research on the performance implications of a company culture of sustainability and the social values/objectives of employees, community and customers.

Robert Eccles, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, published a report in 2012 on an 18-year study of 90 organizations with a high level of emphasis on employees, customers, community and the environment, against an equal number of organizations in a control group that do not. According the research, these highly engaged organizations significantly outperformed the others, both in stock market and accounting performance. They had sustained greater governance and loyalty. This is a compelling report and clarifies, among other research out there, that doing good not only does not sacrifice shareholder value, but actually enhances it.

While we have evidence that doing good enhances profitability, what about the other measures of success? The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s report “How Virtue Creates Value for Business and Society” concludes that CFOs, investors and market analysts are early in the process of adopting metrics and communicating them to their stakeholders and the market.

Some view these policies as compliance and risk management. They’re finding, currently, that tracking the financial impact of programs not inherently financial, but still very significant in measuring impact, can be difficult. One example is the increase in revenue through loyalty and goodwill. We are all hungry to continue to work on metrics which support what we experience as being true and critically important to our organizations – investing in the values of our employees and our communities leads to better, more productive and engaged employees and customer loyalty to an organization’s brand.

To answer the question “Should your company include VTO as an employee benefit?”, the answer is absolutely!  In my role as a CFO, I strongly encourage you and everyone out there to adopt VTO policies as part of your efforts to attract and retain the best employees, improve your brand loyalty, and as a result of both – promote growth and increased revenue as well as the other measurements of your success.

Learn How Major Companies are Using Employee Volunteer Software at #VMSolChat

Want to know why companies love VolunteerMatch Solutions for managing, growing, and showing off the impact of their employee volunteer programs?

Join the #VMSolChat Twitter Chat!

Who should join:
Corporate social responsibility professionals, employee engagement proponents, corporate volunteering enthusiasts.

When it’s happening:
Thursday July 23rd, 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET)

How to Join

Prepare for the chat by reading the questions below. Or wait, and be surprised! These questions will be asked of current VolunteerMatch clients, specifically Time Warner Cable and Apollo Group, throughout the hour. Feel free to bring your own questions, too.

Then, log onto Twitter on July 23rd at 11 am (2 pm ET). Follow the hashtag #VMSolChat. Stay engaged with your favorite Twitter client (we recommend tchat.io).

Questions

  • How does your Employee Volunteerism Tool support your Employee Volunteer Program?
  • How do you utilize the many features offered through the VolunteerMatch platform  to support employee volunteerism?
  • How do you use reporting/measurement tools to illustrate social change?
  • Have you increased employee volunteerism in your organization year over year? Why do you think employees are more inclined to volunteer now than they were a year ago?
  • What advice do you have for employee volunteer management tool prospects?

You’ll meet new people (virtually), learn a lot, and most importantly, have FUN!

Changing Corporate Perspectives on Workplace Volunteer Programs: Q & A, Part 2

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

Angela Parker & Chris Jarvis

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

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 two of this two-part series, I’m pleased to share these additional insights from Angela and Chris.

Q: How aligned does volunteerism need to be with a company’s funding focus areas? We have employees who want to volunteer for causes the company does not fund. Does this matter?

A: Most people in your company are not involved in the community. In fact, only 25% of Americans formally volunteer. If you limit volunteer opportunities strictly to your company’s desires, you make the tent smaller than it already is.

Generally, providing three tiers of volunteer opportunities can help satisfy the company, your employees, and the community. Here’s one way to structure that:

  • Tier 1: Signature Programs – Big events that match a specific cause with the company’s strategic focus. For example, a bank’s signature program could be financial literacy.
  • Tier 2: Community Programs – Smaller, community-focused events that match a specific cause with a social or environmental issue in a community. Many large companies have offices all over the world. Community programs need not be related to the company’s giving focus, but should have direct local proximity to the cause.
  • Tier 3: Employee Choice – Causes that matter to employees.

When you allow employees to follow their passion/pet causes, they will more likely want to get involved in events featuring the company’s focus. Generating this “quid pro quo” could end up boosting support for your signature programs.

Q: Do measurements such as Social Return on Investment (SROI) look at the impact of volunteering?

A: There are a number of measurement experts in the field. Two that come to mind are VeraWorks and True Impact. Strong SROI measurement tools do include the impact volunteering has on the beneficiaries and the community. We encourage you to explore some of these models and adapt them to what you need.

One recent advancement in the measurement space is determining the benefit volunteering has on the company. A group of companies in Canada recently launched a project to tie volunteering to retention rates and employee satisfaction scores; the hope being that knowing the financial impact of volunteering can help boost internal budgets and support for more community activity.

Q: How can you maximize the passion of really engaged employees?

A: A key attribute of transformative volunteer programs is the role of the “third-stage volunteer” (aka “Champion”, “Ambassador”, “Guide”). In any given company, approximately 6% of employees fit this model – and you can tell them a mile away! They are always passionate about volunteering, always supporting local causes, and always asking you to sponsor the next run, walk or bikeathon.

The best way to maximize the passion of these individuals is to elevate them to a leadership position. Their highest level of contribution may, in fact, be bringing others along for the ride. And they want nothing more than to share the transformative experiences they have had already. They’ll love you for it – and they’ll return the favor by digging deeper into their “passion” reserves!

Thanks, Angela and Chris!

Missed the webinar? You can still watch a recording of the webinar, and browse the slide deck.

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

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.

Answering the Eternal Question of Return on Investment

Guest post by Brian Kurth

The Return on Investment of Corporate Giving“What’s the return on investment?”

This question is asked over and over again, and requires an answer from anyone proposing a social innovation initiative. They must answer it early, and they must answer it often.

When a company provides financial or in-kind support to a nonprofit organization, they’re seeking some type of return on investment — typically social good.

This sounds reasonable, but efforts to measure ROI in the social sector often turn into a knotted jumble of outcomes, indicators and proxy measurements.

Let’s take a look at the philanthropic arm of a Seattle software company (name withheld for the time being – until their beta roll out is complete.) In addition to quantifying the value and impact of its giving, they are going out of their way to ensure its grantees realize the full value of their financial and in-kind gifts.

Using a private-labeled, online engagement platform offered by Pivot Planet Inc., the company is connecting its in-house experts directly with its foundation grantees. Through this holy trinity of cash, product and technical assistance, the company is helping grantees overcome potentially fatal implementation challenges, as well as accepting more responsibility for the outcomes of its own philanthropy. On top of this, it also increases employee interest, investment and engagement in these social good projects.

While the partnership is still underway, I fully expect the value chain to flow both ways. Like most successful partnerships, the learning will be mutual. Not only will grantees learn how to derive maximum value from the company’s software, the company will gain first-hand knowledge of the myriad challenges nonprofit organizations face, which should inform future product offerings.

Next time you are asked how you are going to ensure ROI for a social innovation initiative, let your answer be “by building value” — brand value, value in your products and services, and value in the communities where you operate.

Brian Kurth is the founder of Pivot Planet Inc., a private-labeled, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that easily and efficiently connects internal knowledge seekers with internal and/or external subject-matter experts. He may be reached at brian@pivotplanet.com or 512.571.3777.

Photo credit: LendingMemo.com