14 CSR Insights from the ’14 VolunteerMatch Client Summit

On September 18-19, 2014, VolunteerMatch welcomed 120 participants representing 60 companies to Detroit, MI, for the annual VolunteerMatch Client Summit. We hope you followed along as we summarized each summit session in this series of blog posts. From hearing inspiring keynotes, to participating in group discussions, to seeing firsthand the progress of the Detroit community – it was truly an event to remember.

However, if you’re just tuning in now, don’t worry! You can get all of the key insights from the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in one convenient PDF. Topics include employee well-being, engaging millennials, creative CSR strategies, and much, much more.

Download the PDF today:VolunteerMatch Insights - The 2014 Client Summit

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: A Rewarding Discussion on VTO

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. In this post: REwards: The Ins and Outs of VTO.

This past year, our Client Summit REwards session on paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) was, well, rewarding. Thought leaders from Time Warner Cable and Brooks Brothers shared valuable insights and tangible takeaways for companies either hoping to launch or already fostering a VTO program for their employees. Jennifer Reed Holick and Hannah Nance walked us through different approaches for how VTO can be used, the ins and outs of pitching a VTO policy, and how to ensure robust participation while keeping the company’s best interests in mind.

Photo of Hannah Nance

Hannah Nance, Senior Specialist, Social Purpose at Brooks Brothers

The benefits of a VTO program are numerous and compelling, not just for the employee, but for the company as a whole. Hannah from Brooks Brothers explained that by giving employees the freedom to choose where they volunteer, a company is making a donation to that organization: The employee’s time, which might not have been available otherwise. While the organization an employee chooses to volunteer for might not fit into the company’s core cause areas, it means the company can have a broad presence and impact in its community. It will also prove it cares about its employees by supporting causes near and dear to its employees’ hearts.

For those employees who don’t have much volunteer experience, or don’t yet have a favorite charity, paid time off to volunteer provides a risk-free trial for them to check out a new organization or new type of volunteering. Presumably, some of your employees will go on to volunteer regularly outside of their VTO. The idea that VTO is just the foundation is core to how Brooks Brothers views the ideal commitment to service.

Photo of Jennifer Reed Holick

Jennifer Reed Holick, Community Investment Manager at Time Warner Cable

Jennifer from Time Warner Cable then dove further into how VTO can fit into a company’s volunteer program. She believes that while VTO is not critical to employee retention, it’s the “secret sauce that can take a strong volunteer program to new heights”. Her “must haves” for starting a program include: Oversight from a senior management task force, an involved legal and HR team to work out important logistics, a review of the cost implication and ROI, a strategy for maximizing results, and use of a strong management tool to support employees’ efforts, such as VolunteerMatch’s corporate toolset.

Jennifer presented deliberate and convincing formulas around the cost and return of implementing a VTO program. She shared how she opted to use conservative data when pitching her program, in order to drive home just how clear it was that the program would have positive payback.

Both Jennifer and Hannah emphasized the importance of asking key questions at the outset, such as how the program will be communicated and how much time off will be given in the policy. They agreed that it’s important to have strong, visible support from leadership. They also emphasized how important it is to “do your homework” around legal or impact issues specific to your industry, such as if employees on commission will participate, or what risks are being assumed by the company during team outings.

During this session, audience engagement and participation were high. It seemed that everyone walked away with renewed enthusiasm about the role VTO can play as the “cherry on top” of employee engagement efforts.

Interested in learning more about VTO programs? Check out the slides from this presentation.

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Build Support for Your Program with Employee Champions

Guest post by: Daniella Lippert

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: REorganize: Building Support Through Champions.

Photo of Wendy Hershey, Daniella Lippert, and Annalisa Amicangelo

Presenters from left to right:
Wendy Hershey – Principal, Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.
Daniella Lippert – Program Manager, Volunteering & Engagement, CSR, Marsh & McLennan Companies
Annalisa Amicangelo – Manager, CSR, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s consciousness; it brings awareness to the inner connectivity of people, communities and companies. It’s great that VolunteerMatch clients have an opportunity to share insights and best practices. The things we learn from each other help us better leverage our business resources, assets, and procedures. They also help us continue to influence the companies we work for and to increase our positive impact in the community.

During my breakout session, I covered the topic of engaging volunteer champions within a large global organization. At Marsh & McLennan Companies, our CSR department has a twofold approach. We start with a top-down effect from corporate. Then, each operating company has a grassroots approach – they can “flex their muscles and creativity” to engage colleagues in a way that’s tailored to their individual company’s brand. The main points I focused on in the session were:

  1. Establishing a clear mission, a clear strategy, and clear goals.
  2. Creating programs, policies, and platforms that can be used across the company.
  3. Implementing incentives to volunteer.
  4. Using VolunteerMatch’s reporting function for quarterly reporting, goal setting, and evaluating.

Our CSR team supports our company’s global community, which includes offices in more than 130 countries with over 55,000 employees worldwide. Because our CSR team is relatively small, we have to be thoughtful, creative, and strategic when engaging colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures.

Our company focuses on helping communities through education and disaster preparedness/ recovery. We select nonprofit partners, and then conduct strategic fundraising campaigns and employee volunteer initiatives. Our mission provides a clear direction on what the CSR department supports, as well as what we don’t support.

By focusing our energy we can see: Better alignment with our company’s brand, increased colleague engagement, and greater social impact.

It’s important to recognize employees who are taking the time to give back their community. Our company has created fun ways to recognize and reward exceptional volunteers for tracking their community involvement on VolunteerMatch. For example, this year, our company will give the top “Walk/Run for a Charitable Cause” leaders an opportunity to win a Fitness Fitbit-Activity tracker. This is a great way to encourage employees to organize walks/runs that support their local nonprofit organizations, and to include their colleagues.

In 2013, Marsh & McLennan Companies increased engagement significantly, doubling both our volunteer hours and employee participation rate. Tracking volunteer engagement has allowed our CSR team to establish metrics and internal benchmarking. Establishing volunteer goals and creating targeted communications to increase awareness can spur healthy competition that drives engagement. Another advantage of reporting is the ability to identify cause areas, types of volunteering, and programs that motivate our employees.

For more information on building support through champions, view the slides from this session.

Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Advocate for Your EVP

Photo of man in suit explaining something.Companies today are asking more of employee volunteer programs (EVPs) than ever before – such as increasing brand reputation, recruiting talent, and increasing employees’ health, happiness and productivity.

You know that your programs are doing all of these things. But how can you show this value to others to get the budget, staff, tools, partnerships and cross-department collaboration you need to take your program to the next level?

Join Debbie Donahey of OhioHealth, Rachel Tallant of Appirio, and Julie VanDeLinder of VolunteerMatch as they share their stories of EVP advocacy. If you are stuck or overwhelmed, this webinar will give you practical tips, and lead you toward a plan to advocate for your EVP.

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Guest Speakers:
Debbie Donahey, OhioHealth
Rachel Tallant, Appirio
Julie VanDeLinder, VolunteerMatch

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

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.

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Building Nonprofit Partnerships that Work

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: Pool Your REsources: Building Cross Sector Collaboration for High Impact.

Photo of Jamie Wagner

Jamie Wagner, Senior Communications Specialist & Project Leader, ConAgra Foods

I’m always amazed by the breadth and depth of our partners’ CSR programs. In this session, Jamie Wagner of ConAgra Foods, Sabin Blake of GM, and Hannah Hoskins of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan took us on a dive deep into the inner workings of their programs. We learned about different ways companies and nonprofits work together to organize resources and address community needs.

Jamie showed us how ConAgra strives to decrease astoundingly high child hunger rates in the U.S. through a partnership with Feeding America. In 1993, ConAgra began supporting the Kids Café program which helps feed children during summer breaks from school. Today these kinds of efforts are integrated into the company, and many ConAgra employees volunteer at hunger-related organizations.

Photo of Sabin Blake

Sabin Blake, Marketing Manager – Cadillac Global Marketing, General Motors

While ConAgra has a singular focus, GM focuses on four areas: Education, environment, health, and community. Because of this, they have many nonprofit partnerships. At this session, they showcased their work with the United Way of Southeastern Michigan in Detroit. To quote the United Way, “We have a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG): To be a driving force in making Greater Detroit a top-five place to live and work by the year 2030.” In Detroit, a city that went from population of 2 million to 800 thousand, everyone you meet seems to be behind that goal.

As with many forward-looking goals, schools are a great place to start. Sabin and Hannah talked about how GM donated $27 million to the United Way’s Network of Excellence School program. The objective? To increase high school graduation rates from 50% to 80%. They are currently on track to achieve this by 2015. Sabin also helped start GM’s first official volunteer program, teamGM Cares, to assist the United Way. GM employees and retirees support the Network of Excellence program by volunteering to tutor and mentor students, as well as help them develop valuable life and professional skills.

In summary, this session showed attendees that corporate and nonprofit collaboration works. VolunteerMatch is lucky to work with such great organizations and individuals like Jamie, Sabin and Hannah. You can view the full slides from this session here.