Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: More than Writing A Check

Two people shaking hands.Successful corporate philanthropy requires more than a donation. You need brand-alignment, foresight and strategy, employee engagement, and measurable results.

During our December Best Practice Network webinar, More than Writing A Check: Creating Successful, Multi-faceted Corporate/ Nonprofit Partnerships, Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, will explain how to create lasting impact through partnerships with nonprofits while avoiding common mishaps.

She’ll share examples of companies that have done it right – and those that have fallen short. You’ll also learn why employee volunteering is a key part of a sustainable corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, and how you can get your employees on-board. Finally, Susan will underline the importance of social media and transparency in corporate philanthropy, sharing examples of how companies have elevated the impact of their programs through social media and providing actionable tips that any organization can put into place.

Register for this free event.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
10am – 11am PT (1-2pm ET)

Guest Speaker: Susan McPherson, McPherson Strategies

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

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: A Swedish REflection

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: A Swedish REflection.

Guest post by Anna Snell, Volontärbyrån

Anna Snell chats with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch staffer and emcee of the VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Anna Snell (left) chats with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch staffer and emcee of the VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Two months have passed since the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, but Detroit stays with me. What an inspiration it was to be bused around the city, seeing what we are capable of achieving when we come together, devoting time and passion in the effort to create a better life for ourselves and each other.

Detroit’s journey back on track reminds me of the history of volunteering in Sweden, where I come from. It goes back to the 19th century, when Sweden was a very poor country. A third of the population emigrated (most of them to the United States), and the people that were left behind took it upon themselves to create a brighter, healthier and more equal society.

Initiatives like dental care, libraries, health care for children and home visits for the elderly came about around this time – things that volunteers and nonprofit organizations created. Responsibility for things have since been taken over by the state and are now largely tax-funded, but the appetite for organizing ourselves and volunteering has remained.

Volontärbyrån is VolunteerMatch’s Swedish cousin, and we have been exchanging insights from our respective countries for years. Volontärbyrån rests on the same firm foundation as VolunteerMatch, the drive to make it easy for people to volunteer and to support nonprofits in finding volunteers.

In Sweden, corporate volunteering isn’t as widespread as it is in the U.S. However, volunteering in general in Sweden is very popular, with every other Swede devoting on average 16 hours per month to volunteering. Companies are catching on to the fact that encouraging volunteering among their staff isn’t just a great way of involving staff in the company’s CSR activities and employer branding, it’s also beneficial to the well-being of each individual who participates.

I manage Volontärbyrån’s corporate partnerships, and came to the VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit in order to get inspired, take home some ideas and to network. And I wasn’t disappointed! I met some really great people, from the dedicated VolunteerMatch staff to passionate company coordinators as well as inspiring nonprofits. I took home lots of ideas and advice to our partners about what a successful internal infrastructure for a volunteer program looks like, how to create visibility around volunteering, and different ways to measure the success of a volunteer program.

Thank you, VolunteerMatch, for enabling all of us to network and exchange insights and ideas like this, in our joint efforts to connect people with great causes!

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Refreshingly Awesome Employee Volunteer Programs

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: REfreshingly Awesome Programs.

Lauren Keeler of Apollo Education Group and Tyler Butler of GoDaddy make awesome look easy. At VolunteerMatch’s Client Summit, they shared some creative projects they developed for their employee volunteer programs. They’re not afraid to step out of the box, and you shouldn’t be either!

Picture of Lauren Keeler

Lauren Keeler, Director, Community Engagement, Apollo Education Group

Picture of Tyler Butler

Tyler Butler, Director, Community Outreach, GoDaddy

Lauren started a 10-person pilot volunteer program that has grown so big employees are on a waiting list to participate! How did it become so successful? Lauren changed things up. Apollo previously participated in a one-on-one reading program on location at an area school. Realizing people’s busy schedules, transport time, and also taking into consideration Apollo’s culture, Lauren implemented a virtual tutoring model. This new flexibility attracted many more volunteers and increased excitement about the program.

One of the programs Tyler manages is the Hope for Soap drive. Employees are encouraged to donate toiletry items to families across the country. In 2014 alone, employees donated over 5,000 items. But it’s not just the families that benefit. GoDaddy incorporates prizes to boost involvement in the Hope for Soap drive, as well as other volunteering campaigns. For example, in certain annual giving challenges, employees can win tickets to exclusive events and one-on-one time with senior leadership in the form of bike rides and lunches. Tyler showed us how a little incentive and some healthy competition can go a long way.

Thanks again to Tyler and Lauren for sharing such inspiring insights. They reminded us that it’s okay to challenge the status quo when it comes to developing employee volunteer programs. For more on their awesome programs, check out the slides from their session.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: How to Turn Transition into Opportunity for 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: REalign: Managing Your EVP During Turning Points & Transitions.

Transitions and turning points in companies can be painful and scary, but they can also open up possibilities and create new efficiency. Alex Price of ADT Corporation and Bill Egan of United Airlines both offered advice on managing an employee volunteer program (EVP) through challenging times at this year’s VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Picture of Alex Price

Alex Price, Community Relations & Corporate Responsibility, ADT Corporation

Alex explained how he led EVP initiatives during ADT’s spin-off from Tyco. They changed from a huge company headquartered far away to a sizable, but much smaller, organization headquartered at home. This created some serious cultural challenges as well as some excellent opportunities. For example, ADT had the chance to reinvent itself. Alex made sure the employee engagement programs were the center of this culture change. ADT has gone on to create an award-winning EVP that continues to grow and improve.


Picture of Bill Egan

Bill Egan, Manager, Corporate & Community Affairs, United Airlines

United Airlines faced a similar, yet opposite, situation. They were a large company that got much larger when they merged with Continental. The merger created the opportunity to create a program with the best of both worlds, but the transition had to be managed delicately. The atmosphere was tense as people navigated the transition in an uncertain and changing environment. Bill and his team were able to use their EVP as a way to inspire employees to a purpose, work together, and feel better about the new company.

Alex and Bill shared five key steps to create an EVP that not only survives change, but also helps smooth the bumps that are common with any transition.


1. Assess Your Situation

Take a look at your workplace structure, including the culture, programs, workforce and current partners. Whether you are starting from scratch like ADT, or merging like United Airlines, you must evaluate your current situation and pinpoint your own unique needs before moving forward.

2. Develop a Plan Based on Your Situation, Aimed at a New Definition of Success

While change can be unnerving, it allows you to redefine what success means for your newly changed company. Both Alex and Bill recommended plotting your course before acting, determining program focus & branding, making sure focus aligns with the company brand, and deciding which department will house the program.

3. Involve Company Leadership, Obtain Senior-Level Buy-in

Both Alex and Bill could not stress this point enough. They explained that the best way to be successful at this critical step is to get feedback from senior leaders. Learn what they want for the new iteration of the company and discuss their ideas on how the EVP can help get there. Executives should also become champions of key events and connect with the leaders at partner nonprofits.

4. Embed Your EVP into the DNA of the New Entity

Include employee volunteer information in recruiting and on-boarding new employees, weave volunteer engagement into your big moments, and leverage company assets and interdepartmental relationships for your EVP.

As an example, ADT’s corporate structure lent itself to encouraging locations to form their own geographical “Always Cares Committees”. The committees are selected by local executives through an application process. The positions are prestigious and receive leadership recognition.

5. Take Time to Evaluate and Measure

To create ongoing programs that thrive and help your company meet business goals, you must create meaningful measures and metrics that you can track over time. This includes quantifying the value of your program, getting baseline metrics, conducting follow-up studies, reporting on program output, monitoring PR and social media performance, and identifying areas for improvement.

Thank you to both ADT and United Airlines for showing how employee volunteering can use transition as an opportunity to grow and smooth out issues. In both cases, two much stronger companies and brands have emerged. Want to explore this topic further? View the slides from Alex and Bill’s session.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Why We Went to Detroit and What We Saw There

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. Today’s special post highlights the tour we took of Detroit and why the city proved to be a great choice of location.

Public Art in Detroit

Public Art in Detroit

“Why did you pick Detroit for this year’s Client Summit?”

This was the question posed to me many times during the Wednesday night reception at this year’s VolunteerMatch Client Summit. And it’s a good question. Detroit isn’t your typical conference destination anymore, but it is rooted deep in America’s history. In response to the question, I shared the goal of our destination choice: To draw attention to a city on the rebound and show the importance of communities and companies working together for local benefit.

More than just explain this, we wanted our clients to see it firsthand. So, we loaded up a bus on Thursday morning for a city tour put together by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan. As we drove through the different neighborhoods, it became clear that Detroit is not as vibrant as it once was. Yet, signs of rebirth were everywhere!  We saw and heard about a thriving artist community taking hold in various neighborhoods. There are new industries and a growing foodie scene. Investors such as Dan Gilbert are putting their money and resources toward rebuilding the city’s business district.

The story of the old Detroit Tigers baseball stadium was my favorite from the tour. Our guide explained that for years after the stadium was torn down, the city didn’t have the money to maintain the open space. It was destined to become yet another area of blight in the city. So, residents took matters into their own hands. Every week, they would mow the lawn and maintain a field. Today it’s a baseball field open to the public.

Inspiring stories like this are common in Detroit. Detroit is certainly filled with challenges and uncertainty, but the people are committed to a common goal of restoring it to a prominent and thriving U.S. city. We finished our tour at a local school that equips Detroit’s youth with the skills they need to create a thriving future. With their impressive dedication, it won’t be long until the people of Detroit have achieved their goal.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Overcoming CSR Challenges as an “Intrapreneur”

Guest Post by Danielle Holly

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: REsiliency Doesn’t Have a Sector.

Picture of Danielle Holly

Danielle Holly, CEO, Common Impact

While we all know that it takes institutional support to make corporate social responsibility and pro bono programs succeed over the long term, it also requires purpose-driven individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and create the kind of change employees, businesses and the community want to see. We had a room of these “intrapreneurs” at the VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit earlier this fall.

Here are a few of the themes that came up in our discussion, which corporate change-makers are striving to address every day:

The workforce has transformed: Over the past 20 years, the workforce has completely transformed. The corporate “lifer” is a thing of the past. Employees are switching jobs and sectors every 2-3 years. They’re increasingly remote, and they’re focused on building careers that make a measurable impact on society. This workforce is also 70% disengaged* in their current role, suggesting there are far too many employees who are unhappy, frustrated or actively seeking other opportunities. This environment leaves companies asking the question, “How am I going to recruit, engage, and retain my future leaders?”

Engaging the disengaged?  Companies know they need to provide real opportunities to engage the time and talent of their employees beyond the holiday food and fundraising drives. But how?  Many of our session participants said that it’s the same employees that engage time and time again in all of the volunteer opportunities they offer. Is it worth it to continue to try to involve employees that aren’t responding, aren’t engaging, and just don’t seem interested? Or should these already-strapped corporate managers focus on enriching the experience of the employees that are coming to the table on their own?

Activating beyond the “corporate” base:  Finally, how do you get hourly, part-time, contract, and front-line employees engaged in service when it’s challenging or impossible for them to leave their post? Manufacturing, retail, healthcare and other sectors that rely heavily on these employees are struggling with how to make volunteer programs available to their full workforce – not just their corporate marketing, HR and finance arms.

All of these challenges require slightly different approaches from each of the companies that joined the recent conversation in Detroit, but there is one imperative for progress across the board: These corporate employee engagement initiatives need to be a core part of the company’s business. This integration needs to happen not just in ethos or messaging — though that’s helpful — but in budget, resourcing and measurement.

Once that becomes a reality for more companies, these intrapreneurs will have a tangible foundation on which to build. They can then have the ability to experiment with new programs and new incentives that activate those disengaged employees. They can have the personnel budgets to staff appropriately so that hourly employees can get out in the community and support nonprofit leaders in building better businesses. And most importantly, they can provide evidence of impact to justify the support they need. They’ll know, along with their companies, that their efforts to build a purpose-driven workforce are working.

For resources and more information, view the slides from this session.

*Source: Gallup 2013 Report: State of the American Workplace
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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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