2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: The How and Why of Global Pro Bono

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: REview Your Company’s World View: Global Pro Bono.

Global World MapMore and more multinational companies are getting their employees involved in pro bono work. Ever wonder how these large, effective employee volunteer programs got started and how your company can follow suit? At this years’ VolunteerMatch Client Summit, we were lucky enough to hear from leaders at Dow, JPMorgan Chase and PYXERA Global about just that. Here’s a quick summary of my takeaways from this awesome session.


  • Gavin Cepelak: Director, International Corporate Volunteerism at PYXERA Global
  • Michelle Langley: Program Leader, Dow Sustainability Corps/ Global Disaster Relief/ STEM at The Dow Chemical Company
  • Tosha M. Tabron: Vice President, Relationship Manager, Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase

What is Global Pro Bono?

  • Employees cross international borders to serve local clients using the skills from their daily jobs.
  • Their projects offer economic and social benefit to local organizations and communities.

Who Benefits?

  • Employees develop hard and soft skills, increase motivation, and improve leadership competencies.
  • Local NGOs and clients get better access to resources and new technologies, achieve greater capacity, and grow the scope and success of their services.
  • Businesses reinforce positive corporate culture, strengthen brand reputation, identify new market opportunities, spark product and service development, and grow employee recruitment and retention.

Examples from the Field

  • The Dow Sustainability Corps sent 78 employees in 2013 and 2014 to Ghana and Ethiopia to work on projects relating to water, agriculture, education, housing, and public health & sanitation.
  • JPMorgan Chase Financial Services Corps partnered with IBM to send employees to Brazil and India in 2013 and 2014.

Lessons Learned

  • Recruit your high achieving, high potential employees across all departments to engage in these projects. You are investing in future globally competent leaders for your company.
  • Don’t forget virtual! Employees can engage with local NGOs through virtual consulting for months in advance of shorter visits abroad. This keeps cost down and optimizes impact.
  • Partnerships are everything. You don’t have to do this alone! Work with other corporations and established NGOs to identify highest need and implement successful projects. Organizations like PYXERA Global can help with these connections.

Interested in learning more? View the slides from this presentation.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Come On, Get Happy!

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: REally Happy Employees: The Impact of Well-being.

Picture of John C. Haven

John C. Haven, The H(app)athon Project

When was the last time you found yourself laughing hysterically in a conference session? Oh, and also watching a video of a dog try to speak? For me, the start of the “REally Happy Employees: The Impact of Well-being” session at our recent Client Summit was the start of a high-energy discussion on the potential impact employee happiness and well-being can have on your CSR programs.

John C. Havens, founder and executive director of The H(app)athon Project, introduced us to some very interesting concepts in just 45 minutes. He showed how wearable and emerging technologies are transforming the workplace and challenging us to measure employee well-being to drive positive bottom-line results.

The most refreshing thing about the discussion was that the session itself was an experiment in the very topic being discussed! In other words, Havens had everyone in the room smiling, talking with one another, and asking questions about how their own programs might improve with a little bit of humanity. Imagine the company that provides Fitbits to its employees and ends up saving money on health insurance costs. Or, how about the organization that determines which activities excite employees most (working with kids, being outdoors, etc.) and integrates those specific projects as part of its Global Day of Caring? Mixing common sense and very complicated technologies, and ultimately infusing a little humanity back in the workplace, clearly resonated with everyone in the room.

For me, it was a chance to think differently for a few moments and remember that the programs we’re all managing are about the people and relationships – not just the hours tracked.

For more happiness, view the full slide deck from this presentation. You can also check out 2012 World Happiness Report and explore the Gross National Happiness Index.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights:  What is Your EVP Data Saying?

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: REanalyze: What is Your EVP Data Saying?

“How are we doing?”

Picture of Jake Sanches

Jake Sanches, internal metrics and analytics guru at Palantir Technologies

This is the most common question our client services team hears from our corporate and nonprofit partners. And it should be. Employee volunteer programs, like any other business expenditure, need to demonstrate impact and value to multiple audiences. Data is critical to the success and continued support of EVPs, especially since these programs are relatively new in the corporate world and don’t yet have an established set of benchmarks.

So, how can your organization answer that oh-so-common question: How are we doing?

There are some existing guideposts, such as the number of hours employees contribute, the social value generated (a calculation based on numbers from the Independent Sector), the percent of employees engaged, and so on. However, because of the lack of public benchmarks, small sample sizes for specific company types and sizes, and the fact that companies have different cultures, priorities, and history when it comes volunteering, it’s very hard to make valid comparisons. At VolunteerMatch, we often suggest that each company, with some guidance, take it upon themselves to identify outcomes that reflect their priorities and keep an eye on these outcomes over time.

The most important thing is, if not to fall in love, then at least fall in like with data! VolunteerMatch wants to lead this charge. This summer and fall, we worked with Jake Sanches, a volunteer from Palantir Technologies. We designed and sent a survey to our clients asking what metrics are important to them, how they use data, and how VolunteerMatch can improve its reporting dashboard and quarterly reports.

During his presentation at the Client Summit, Jake discussed the survey’s findings. He demonstrated how big data has made its way into the public consciousness through sites like Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, and how data can be a significant driver in the development of your EVP. Jake then covered how to choose the right metrics for your program and brought up commonly overlooked metrics. These included: Finding volunteers based on tenure to make sure new employees are getting into the program quickly, discovering your rock star volunteers so they can help spread the word, determining the time of year most popular for volunteering, and much more. He concluded with a list of best practices for communicating data to different audiences.

In summary, if you really want your EVP to soar, data is critical. You can start small, with just a few easy metrics, and as your program evolves, you can expand. You might even find some hidden gems that reflect something unique to your company. Incorporating a metrics-centered approach will not only give you a better idea of what’s going on with your program right now, but will help you plan for the future, help you to make the case for expansion and budget increases, and will generate great storytelling material.

For more details on this topic, view the slides from Jake’s presentation. You can also watch the video from his encore Webinar.

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Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: 2014 Giving in Numbers – Insights from CECP’s Annual Research

Giving in Numbers 2014 EditionGiving in Numbers is the leading benchmark on corporate giving and socially motivated employee engagement programs.

In this year’s report, CECP, in association with The Conference Board, collected data from a record 261 companies on their 2013 contributions and employee engagement programs.

2014 Giving in Numbers: Insights from CECP’s Annual Research

In the November Best Practice Network webinar, CECP’s Michael Stroik will discuss trends in giving in the four years since the recession; how giving stacks up against consumer and CEO confidence; what it takes to be among the top 25 percent of corporate givers; which types of employee engagement programs are expanding; and for the first time, how companies are measuring the social impact of their giving.

Register for this free event.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

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

Our Speaker:

Michael Stroik

Register for this free webinar now.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: 5 Things Good Leaders Do

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: REinventing Giving and Engagement.

charlesandpremalLast month I had the privilege of introducing two of my heroes, Premal Shah, President of Kiva and Charles Best, Founder & CEO of DonorsChoose.org, as our Keynote speakers at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit.

We asked them to have a conversation with each other about how technology is reinventing giving and engagement. As they were talking back and forth and sharing their stories, I was struck by how two gifted leaders go about educating, engaging and inspiring an audience to get involved. Needless to say, they are both very good at it….

Read the rest of Greg Baldwin’s post to find out the five things that make leaders like Premal and Charles so good. 


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The Value of Giving Back: 1st Source Bank

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. This week’s final featured company: 1st Source Bank.1st Source Bank Volunteers at Super Saturday

As many a cheesy song or cliché politician has reminded us, the children are our future. As it turns out, kids are pretty smart already. The nonprofit Junior Achievement knows this, which is why they teach entrepreneurial and financial skills to children.

Also, as it turns out, professional bankers know quite a bit about finance. This is why 1st Source Bank partnered with Junior Achievement to put their pro bono thoughts into actions. 31 bank employees recently spent a day at an elementary school introducing children to financial literacy. Bank employees called the experience valuable for them – not just the kids!

1st Source Bank also participates in other pro bono activities, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Super Saturday (pictured above), where they partner with the United Way to offer tax preparation and filing for free. Giving back to their community is one of 1st Source Bank’s core values, which is evident in the fact that over 45% of their employees are active volunteers. Last year, employees volunteered 27,000 hours, equal to about $600,000. Talk about giving back!

Thank you to 1st Source Bank and the other companies that engage in pro bono work. You truly are role models. Pro Bono Week 2014 may be coming to an end, but we don’t want the momentum to stop! VolunteerMatch makes it easy to set up your own employee volunteer program and encourage pro bono work. Find out how.

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