Achieving True Connectivity at the Local Level

Guest post by Christina Brown, The Huntington National Bank

Community Connection Day in Columbus, Ohio, brought corporations and nonprofits together.The word “connectivity” seems easy enough to understand. But in the world of corporate engagement, we strive to do better at it each and every day. It’s not often enough that corporations and nonprofits get together in one place to share ideas about how to best work with each other. Recently in Columbus, Ohio, Volunteermatch was able bring leaders of these two communities together in the first ever “Community Connection Day,” and the results were outstanding.

The day started at the Columbus Foundation, with 75 nonprofit leaders from across the city of Columbus discussing their successes and challenges surrounding volunteer engagement. The conversation, facilitated by VolunteerMatch expert Jennifer Bennett, covered topics from event creation and volunteer recruitment to organization hurdles and best practice sharing.

The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation

In another room, 20 corporate engagement leaders from local companies gathered to discuss their own programs. This is where I spent my time, and I truly started to realize the impact that this day would have on me as a leader and even more deeply as a member of my community. During an inspiring conversation led by Realized Worth’s Chris Jarvis, the room was captivated with the conversation around social and transitional change and what our impact as leaders truly means to the community.

This meeting of the minds brought together a group of representatives from very different companies, yet allowed us to feel joined by our responsibility to provide opportunities for our colleagues to experience rare moments of meaning and unity. With Chris’s insight and the engaging conversation in the room, it was as if a thread started to weave our experiences and opportunities together. Suddenly we were there as change agents working together, not just representatives from the various companies in our community. A refreshing feeling of inspiration came over me that morning.

After the nonprofits and companies were done with their respective conversations, both groups came together for lunch and an opportunity to share what they had learned in the earlier sessions. Excitement and anticipation spread throughout the room, as familiar faces reconnected and new ones were welcomed with open arms.

Shortly after lunch was served, a panel gathered at the front of the room to hold an honest discussion on volunteerism and share how nonprofits and corporations are working together. As a member of the panel, I was thrilled to present in front a room of change agents and share how my nonprofit partner and company best work together. Sharing personal stories of what works versus the challenges that we all face from time to time was invigorating.

And again, that word “connectivity” showed itself on both sides. In a room full of people who live and breathe community, the conversation danced across each table and the togetherness that I felt truly cemented that thread between each of us in the room.

If not for VolunteerMatch’s Community Connection Day, this conversation and opportunity to bring our voices together would not have occurred in such an intimate fashion. No matter whom you represent – a company, nonprofit or your individual passions – the need for connectivity is real. When an organization takes the time to create a moment of togetherness and allow for creative conversation, that is when change is possible and the true connectivity begins.

Interested in bringing a Community Connection Day event to your area? Get in touch with Inga Langford!

Christina Brown is Vice President of Financial Education and Volunteerism for Huntington. She is responsible for the company’s external financial education, as well as the corporate-wide volunteer program.

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Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Lessons from the Field – Employee Volunteer Program Managers’ Top Tips for Success

Join VolunteerMatch and some of our great clients for a free webinar sharing top tips for employee volunteer program success.If you are launching a new employee volunteer program, or taking over an existing one, you probably have a million questions: “How should I scale my launch?” “What tactics should I use to win over key leaders?” “How can I keep my program focused on what’s important to my company while still engaging all of my employees’ interests?”

Don’t worry! We’ve got the answers for you.

Join some of VolunteerMatch’s superstar clients for a conversation to answer these burning questions. Folks from ADT, NetSuite, Prometheus Real Estate Group and JetBlue will share insights and advice about how they overcame common obstacles and learned from experience to design and launch successful programs.

Lessons From the Field: Employee Volunteer Program Managers’ Top Tips for Success

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, you’ll walk away from this webinar more prepared than ever to take your company’s employee engagement to the next level.

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VM_Solutions and #VMbpn.

Our Speakers:

Erin Dieterich

Kate Wetzel

Alex Price

Jessica Johnson
Prometheus Real Estate Group

Register for this free webinar now.

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Get Your Employees Involved in Something Bigger on Good Deeds Day

Encourage your employees to sign up to volunteer as part of Good Deeds Day.Here’s a great idea for motivating your employees to sign up for volunteering: Make it part of a big, special day. Many of you already do this by running Days, Weeks or Months of Service.

But you can also piggyback on existing days, like the upcoming Good Deeds Day on March 9, 2014. By connecting your call to action with a worldwide movement like this one, you’re helping your employees to feel a part of something much bigger – and this will inspire them to take those extra steps to sign up.

Good Deeds Day is quite simply an annual celebration of good deeds – and a way to inspire and incite action to create even more impact. You can watch this video to get an idea of how big this movement has become:

We love this idea because it’s so simple, yet so inspirational. And that’s why it’s so successful. Focusing on thinking, speaking, and doing good is something everyone can do in some way. Good Deeds Day founder Shari Arison believes that if we mobilize enough people to act, we can reach a critical mass, and change the world.

Mobilize your employees to join in on Good Deeds Day – because no matter how big your company is, adding in your employees will help us all reach that critical mass a little faster.

Check out the Good Deeds Day site for stories to inspire and project ideas. Then put out the call to your employees to sign up for volunteer opportunities in celebration of Good Deeds Day!

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How to Do Good Well at SXSW This Year

This post also appears on Engaging Volunteers.

Heading to SXSW Interactive this year? You won’t be alone. Attendance at the year’s coolest tech conference – where digital creatives, techies, do-gooders and marketers come together to figure out the future — tracks the tech bubble. And with apps these days selling for this many zeros, you can bet SXSW will see more than the 30,000 people who showed up last year.

A round-up of technology for social good sessions at SXSW Interactive 2014.

In years past, SXSW was trumpeted as a great place to launch new products. That’s changed recently, as fewer apps have kept their mojo after getting lots of attention during SXSW. These days, what’s keeping SXSW hotter than ever is an increased awareness of the power of SXSW conversations and ideas to have an impact in society.

That’s great news if you work in technology for social good. When everyone is focused on the hot new app, it’s hard to get in a word edgewise about things like online organizing, new forms of digital activism, digital cause marketing, or microvolunteering. But with the focus on the change that can be wrought with all this new technology, we nonprofits and social do-gooders can finally seize the day.

So without further ado, here’s my roundup of what I think are the important sessions, lounges, and events that will focus on social good this year at SXSW.

The Beacon Lounge

The Beacon Lounge will be back at Austin Convention Center for its sixth year, and it remains as vital as ever, with four days of meet ups, expert-led discussions, beer, live music, food, and casual hanging out. This year the Beacon debuts the Do Good Dialogues, where pretty much everyone is invited to grab the mic and share how you are using design, technology, and communication to lean in to solutions for us all.

SXSW Social Good Hub

The action moves offsite from the convention center to two nearby locations for this series of talks and sessions on social good. The awesome teams at, Participant Media, and the UN Foundation have put together an amazing agenda of counter-programming on topics like design strategy, innovation, conscious consumption, and more. Plus, a party…of course. (It’s SXSW, after all.)

Why Clicktavisim Is Not a Dirty Word

After a decade of Facebook helping billions on the Web learn about issues, it’s amazing that people still doubt the power of social media. But we see time and again how sharing stories about important issues, filling out petitions, and even just liking organizations can be incredible ways to support an organization. Come hear folks like Tumblr’s Liba Rubenstein set the record straight.

Ethics & Future of Crowdfunding for Communities

There’s so much hype about the awesome power of crowdfunding that the ethical questions – like what makes for a good social impact investment, and what happens to the money – often get ignored. This session with social good tech ombudsman David Neffis definitely ahead of the trend.

Multiplatform Strategies for Making Good Happen

Tons of conversations at SXSW this year will be about multiplatform planning – that is, using all kinds of media formats to keep a story going and influence people to get involved. Nonprofit folks can definitely learn a bunch in this sessionwith some of the best minds in the business like Caitlin Burns and Lina Srivastava.

How Tech Companies Can Renew Capitalism

Over the years I’ve seen dozens of web services get launched purporting to have a business model that will change the world. Most fell flat. That’s why I think tech founders with truly innovative approaches like Ben Rattray from are worth a listen.

Hackathons for Social Good

With so many smart folks around, it’s hard not to be inspired by the possibilities. The idea of getting down to business to make the future come to life is why hackathons are so incredibly popular at SXSW.

The list above just scratches the surface. Here’s a big hot tip: Follow #sxgood to keep up with events and real-time memes during and round the conference.

How about you? Are you headed to SXSW this year? Let us know what’s inspiring you about technology for social good.

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Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Going Global – Top Considerations for Global Employee Volunteering & Pro Bono Engagement

Join VolunteerMatch and PYXERA Global for a free webinar about developing a skills-based global volunteer program.Approaching employee volunteering from a holistic perspective is a must. But with so many different types of volunteer programs out there, how should a company approach pro bono when it decides to go international?

Join VolunteerMatch’s Vicky Hush and Amanda MacArthur of PYXERA Global for a discussion about what to consider before launching your global skills-based volunteer program. From in-country to virtual assignments, to one-time events, learn how to implement these strategies for your employees the smart way. Walk away from this webinar understanding how to ensure your employees stay safe and how cultural differences and traditions play into your plan.

Going Global: Top Considerations for Global Employee Volunteering & Pro Bono Engagement

Whether you’re just starting out or already have an international volunteer program, this one hour webinar will help you to plan or re-think your strategies to make your programs even more impactful.

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VM_Solutions and #VMbpn.

Our Speakers:

Daniel Elliot
Key Client Manager

Michelle Langley
Program Leader
Dow Sustainability Corps/Global Disaster Relief/STEM

Vicky Hush
Vice President, Engagement & Strategic Partnerships

Register for this free webinar now.

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7 CSR and Employee Engagement Conferences You Must Attend This Year

7 CSR and Employee Engagement Conferences You Must Attend This Year

Schmoozing at the 2013 VolunteerMatch Client Summit

If you go to a lot of corporate social responsibility and cause marketing conferences each year, the beginning of the year only means one thing: the budget is set and it’s time to rock!

With many of the most interesting and innovative events of the conference calendar bunched up in Q1 and Q2, there’s not a lot of time to plan for maximum impact.


So without further ado, here’s our list of the events that we think are worth attending in terms of investment, impact, networking and fun:

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, Sept. 18-19, Detroit

There’s no event we get more value out of than our own Client Summit. Each year more than a 100 representatives of our corporate partners meet to talk trends and best practices, hear from experts in the field, and talk about the real world challenges of managing large scale volunteer initiatives at many of the world’s most engaged workforces. It’s invitation only, and usually reserved for companies that use VolunteerMatch’s world class engagement platform. This year we are thrilled to be bringing the event to Detroit, where General Motors is hosting everything at its world headquarters.

Cause Marketing Forum Annual Conference, May 28-29, Chicago

One of our favorites of the year is the Cause Marketing Forum, an intimate two days of interesting conversations at the nexus of cause and brand marketing. World class companies come to share their stories, and nonprofits that are committed to cause marketing are all looking for innovative ways to engage. You can also catch the presentation of the annual Halo Awards, cause marketing’s highest honor. The awards go to both corporations and their nonprofit partners.

The BSR Conference ’14, November 4-7, New York City

A four-day conference from Business for Social Responsibility, the SF-based nonprofit sustainability consultant. The event, which shifts from coast to coast each year, is a must for businesses that are looking to create social responsibility and sustainability plans that will last. The conference is a wonderful mix of content around the most pressing questions and top trends that will drive conversations in the future of social responsibility. Yes, that’s our very own Inga Langford at the mic on this page recapping last year’s event!

ACCP Annual Conference on Corporate Contributions, March 2-5, Las Vegas

Don’t go to the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals’ annual event because it’s in Vegas – go because it’s the premier conference in the U.S. for professionals in corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility, community relations and volunteerism. While flashier events focus on the sizzle of brand marketing and cause marketing for social good, ACCP’s event is all about the steak of corporate giving – i.e., billions of dollars of annual philanthropy, volunteering and community investments.

13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship, April, New York City

Charities@Work hosts one of the best gatherings dedicated to ideas and trends in employee engagement for social good. We like this conference because it recognizes the enormous and often overlooked impact employee-led philanthropy and volunteering is having in our communities.

SB ’14 San Diego, June 2-5, San Diego

The innovative minds at Sustainable Brands, the organization, developed Sustainable Brands, the event, to bring together the most innovative thinkers in brand development and brand marketing to help change the world. Each year SB hosts this 3-day event on an island in San Diego, which sounds exotic, except that it’s really purpose-built for making sure the conversations are sustained and relationships can be developed over a short period of time. I’ve always loved the connections, stories, and opportunities that come out of this conference.

2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service, June 16-18, Atlanta

Points of Light Institute’s Conference on Volunteering and Service is best known as a place for nonprofits to learn more about volunteer engagement, but it also has a wonderful track for business professionals. Each year we are thrilled to see dozens of our corporate partners at NCVS, and it’s great to see that corporate social responsibility is becoming a larger part of the discussion at the largest event about volunteering on the national landscape.

What do you think are the best events in CSR in 2014? Share them here.

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Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Volunteering & Employment – Benefits for Individuals, Nonprofits and Companies

We’re kicking off the New Year with a special, first-of-its-kind webinar, and we’re inviting our corporate, nonprofit AND volunteer audiences to take part! We hope you can join us and our guest speakers…

Join VolunteerMatch for a special free webinar about the link between volunteering and employment.It turns out that working for free can actually help you get a job.

Recent research shows an empirical link between volunteering and employment – and this benefit doesn’t just apply to individual jobseekers. Volunteering also provides value for companies looking to hire engaged employees, and for nonprofits that need the help of people with specific skills looking to build experience.

Volunteering and Employment: Benefits for Individuals, Nonprofits and Companies

Join VolunteerMatch’s President, Greg Baldwin, for a special, free joint webinar with LinkedIn, the Corporation for National and Community Service and Deloitte as we dive into several research studies supporting the connection between volunteering and employment.

Whether you’re an individual jobseeker, a nonprofit looking for skilled volunteers, or a company looking for employees, this conversation will provide a wealth of practical ideas for how volunteering and volunteers can help you reach your goals.

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VM_Solutions and #VMbpn.

Our Speakers:

Alison Dorsey
Social Impact Manager

Jill Silliphant
Corporate Citizenship Lead

Mary Hyde
Acting Director of Research and Evaluation
Corporation for National and Community Service

Greg Baldwin

Register for this free webinar now.

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