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.

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

You’re Invited: CECP’s Giving In Numbers Survey

Logo for CECP (the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy)Would your company like to be represented in the leading research on corporate philanthropy trends?

Giving in Numbers is the leading benchmark on corporate giving and socially motivated employee engagement programs. Last year, 261 companies participated, including 62 of the largest 100 companies in Fortune 500.

This year, the theme is Making the Business Case, and CECP wants your input.

Why participate?

  • Leadership: Establish your company as a leader in corporate responsibility.
  • Data: Use the results to benchmark your company’s programs. Help make your case!
  • Peer Learning & Collaboration: Exposure to, and recognition from, leaders in global CSR.
  • Recognition: Your company name would be prominently displayed on the publication and CECP website.
  • Free copy: Participants receive a hard copy of the Giving in Numbers report in the mail.

Participants are asked to complete survey questions across 6 categories on their 2014 contributions (basic company information, total giving, international giving, employee engagement, corporate foundation structure, and impact evaluation & measurement).

The survey will only remain open until Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Interested? Learn more.

CSR Food For Thought: A New Professional Norm

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.

This week’s roundup focuses on the shifting landscape of employee engagement, professional volunteerism, and product development.

10+ Million Professionals on LinkedIn Make Social Impact Part of Their Identity [Infographic]
Three years ago, LinkedIn added a “Volunteers and Causes” section to their user profiles. Fast forward to today: Over 10 million professionals list some sort of cause-affiliation, and 4 million indicate that they are interested in volunteer opportunities (which they can conveniently find with the help of LinkedIn’s partnership with VolunteerMatch!) Check out this infographic on LinkedIn’s blog to find out who these cause-focused professionals are.

Remembering the Value of Volunteerism
Is CSR as an industry, complete with metrics and measurements, getting in the way of the original CSR vision? In this CSRwire post, Peter Dudley of Wells Fargo posits that the best company-sponsored volunteer programs focus on the employees, not on the bottom line. The latter follows later as an added benefit.

How Millennials Are Changing Product Development for Good
In the not-so-distant past, the driving factor behind business decisions was cost. This Wired article argues that with the rise of millennials in both management and consumer roles, the status quo is shifting. Renewable energy, local patronage and employee care are no longer options; they’re simply a part of doing business. Do you agree?

The Untapped Power of Employee Engagement
This Green Biz article boldly asks, “What’s the next frontier in sustainability?” Their answer: Employee engagement. If we want to make real progress for our planet, every single member of a company needs to change their actions. The responsibility of the corporate leaders has shifted from isolated sustainable business decisions to encouraging and facilitating their employees’ sustainable decisions.

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: From Lackluster to Stellar: Re-imagining Your EVP

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: RE-imagine Your Program, summarized by Julie VanDeLinder.

Photo of Julie VanDeLinder

Julie VanDeLinder, Vice President of Client Services, VolunteerMatch

As a client relations manager, I see a variety of employee volunteer programs (EVPs).Whether big or small, EVPs all seem to have the same opportunity: To turn a lackluster program into a stellar one. Sometimes, however, companies get stuck in a routine and fail to evolve.

Many lose sight of what is called the sweet spot: A place where a program is perfectly aligned with company focus, employee passions, and the needs of the community. Our goal in this session was to challenge clients to re-imagine their program by looking at seven elements of successful programs:

  1. Communication
  2. Strategic Focus & Brand Alignment
  3. Measurement
  4. Leadership Engagement
  5. Partnerships
  6. Organizational Development
  7. Recognition & Incentives

I asked attendees to look at these elements and think about which ones they struggle with. I also asked them to think about each element as if it had no restraints, forcing them to think outside the box with creative solutions. We asked each other how we have benefited from innovation in the past, and how we defined success for the future.

We then conducted a fishbowl brainstorm: We asked four attendees to come onstage, but had five chairs. We picked one of the seven elements and asked the attendees onstage to talk about how their company handles that particular element. If someone in the audience wanted to contribute, they could come up on stage and take the fifth seat, but a current participant would have to step down. This forced the conversation to stay lively and evolving, with new ideas and speakers constantly shuffling through.

Many attendees said that discussing these seven elements forced them to think about their weak spots, and even more importantly, the things that weren’t working well but had been tradition for so long that they never thought to question it. We talked about the difficult realization that a nonprofit partner is no longer a good fit, or perhaps was not a good fit from the start. Many said that using surveys or interview techniques helped them pick a valuable partner. Others said they were brave enough to ask a nonprofit “What do you need from us?” instead of proclaiming “This is what we can give you.”

Overall, our session was small, yet very interactive. Participants had the chance to pose questions to some of the best program leaders around, as well as reflect on how to become more innovative, evolving and successful.

You can view the slides from this session here, or download all the session insights here.