CSR Food For Thought: How an Employee Volunteer Program Saves You Money

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.

The Business Case for Employee Volunteer & Skills Giving Programs
In this post from Charities@Work, Sarah Ford dives deep into how employee volunteer programs (EVPs) can boost employee retention. She touches on the top 10 reasons people leave their jobs and explains how employee volunteerism can help with each one. But she doesn’t stop there – she’s got the numbers to back it up. This post is well researched, and well worth the read.

What is the REAL Employee Engagement Definition? [Video]
Entrepreneur and author Kevin Kruse wants to make sure “everyone is on the same page” when it comes to an employee engagement definition. He starts by explaining what employee engagement is NOT – it’s not just satisfaction and it’s not just happiness. Well then, what is it? Find out in this short video.

CEOs Sign OIWC Pledge to Advance Women’s Leadership in the Outdoor Industry
Change often starts at the top, according to this article from SocialEarth. That’s why the CEO of REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), along with 13 other CEOs of outdoor companies, signed a pledge to promote women’s leadership. The REI Foundation went a step further by granting $1.5 million to OIWC (Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition) for mentorship and entrepreneurship programs.

How Can Brands Build a Culture of Responsibility?
This CSRwire post advocates for a shared CSR vision between employees, shareholders, and customers. It suggests that companies shift their values from consumerism to citizenship, and perhaps shift their focus from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to creating shared value (CSV). Don’t let the acronyms intimidate you – this post includes some interesting perspectives on what it means to be a company in our changing world.

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CSR Food For Thought: Is CSR Fading?

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.

CSR Isn’t Dead – But it May Be Fading
In response to the recent 2degrees article CSR is Dead. So, What Comes Next?, this GreenBiz article thoughtfully reflects on the shifting role of CSR for various types of company employees. Author Ellen Weinreb asks the question: If CSR becomes fully integrated into a company’s core, will it still exist as an independent concept?

30 CSR Pros to Follow in 2015
Who doesn’t love a good best-of list? This one from Triple Pundit rounds up the best of the best CSR tweeters on Twitter. Stay connected to the CSR conversation and the get latest sustainability news by following these 30 professionals.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a Celebration of Symantec Service
This Monday, countless volunteers ventured out for A Day On, Not a Day Off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s commitment to service. Many companies got involved, too, by organizing volunteer events for employees. Symantec spreads the spirit of this American holiday across the globe and throughout the year with volunteer efforts in South Africa, Sweden, India and more.

Five Things Sustainable Companies Do
In their new report Guide to Corporate Sustainability: Shaping a Sustainable Future, The UN Global Compact implores companies everywhere to do five things. As the largest corporate sustainability initiative – they have 8,000 company participants – I’d guess they know a thing or two (or five). How many of these does your company practice?


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CSR Food For Thought: Why Patagonia Tells Customers, “Don’t Buy Our Products.”

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.

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario Fights the Fights Worth Fighting
Rose Marcario abandoned her previous success to work on something she believed in – a durable and sustainable product. In this heartfelt interview with Fast Company, she gives us insight into why “sustainability and selling coexist.”

Note to Bosses: Workers Perform Better if You Give to Charity
The Conversation conducted a study with 300 college students and found that the students’ work productivity increased when a bonus was involved. Not surprising, right? But they also found that productivity increased when a charitable donation was involved. Read this article for full insight into the study, as well as insight into your employees’ motivations.

Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability
Research backs the CSR trend we’ve been seeing: More and more companies are embarking on deliberate, strategic, long-term partnerships with nonprofits. This report looks at the key findings of MIT Sloan Management Review’s sixth annual sustainability survey, which includes useful tips for successful collaboration. Find out why they conclude, “The path to success is traveled with others.”

90% of Americans More Likely to Trust Brands that Back Social Causes
Need more of a reason to make your company socially conscious? Check out this post from Mashable, complete with an infographic on why “Content for Good” is the best kind of content. Backed by research from Cone Communications and The University of Pennsylvania, you’ll find some compelling reasons to ramp up your CSR.

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CSR Food For Thought: New Year, New CSR? What the Experts Say About 2015

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.




Eight CSR Trends to Watch Out For in 2015
In this Forbes article, Susan McPherson asked CSR experts to share their thoughts on what the field will look like in 2015. They predict new technologies for tackling social issues, shifts in the language we use when discussing CSR, and emphases on important and growing cause areas – to name a few.There’s certainly a lot to consider – and to get excited for.

How to Make 2015 the Year of Corporate Social Responsibility
After looking at hundreds of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, FrontStream noticed four themes they believe will lead to an amazing new year in CSR. They include two of my personal favorites: Creating shared value and promoting skilled volunteering. Read the full post to find out the others.

Twitter Chat Recap: 2015 CSR Trends w/ PwC & Campbell Soup Co.
This week, TriplePundit joined representatives from PwC, PwC Foundation and Campbell Soup Company for a Twitter chat all about CSR in the New Year. If you’re like me and missed the chat, don’t worry. You can read all the tweets in this post from TriplePundit, as well as a short summary of the highlights.

Doing Good is Good for Business – Corporate Social Responsibility in 2015
In this blog post, Huffington Post tells us what so many of us already know: CSR is no longer just an option or an obligation – it’s a central, critical strategy for a successful company. Using data from CECP’s annual Giving in Numbers report, we’re reminded that employee engagement is one of the greatest driving factors behind CSR. This internal CSR culture among companies will drive efforts forward in 2015.

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Linking CSR And HR: A New Approach to Talent Development

Guest post by Brad Jamison

Picture of handshakeAs a former corporate social responsibility (CSR) executive and current consultant, I have come to recognize a missed opportunity when it comes to developing talent within organizations: The use of service to hone essential skills.

Too often CSR and HR departments operate in silos, even though there are compelling reasons why they should be working together. When the two do come together, it is often to organize team building service opportunities, such as an entire department spending an afternoon together at a local food bank.

Building stronger, more cohesive and trusting teams – something serving together can absolutely do – is vital, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all that service can be used for in the corporate world.

Here are some thoughts on how organizations can better use service to help their employees at three different levels of development and responsibility: Entry-level staffers, middle management, and senior executives.

Entry-level Staffers

Service projects can help develop two skills that are important in any industry: Interpersonal communication and the ability to collaborate with others. These skills often come with work experience, which recent college grads may not have. The good news is, just about any service project that is not solitary can help individuals hone these skills. Whether it’s tutoring a student one-on-one or working with a team of colleagues to build a house, helping employees find ways to serve offers endless opportunities for them to practice collaboration and communication. Such an investment in their growth will position them well to do their best, which of course means better results for the company.

Middle Management

Two of the hallmarks of a good manager are the abilities to lead and solve problems. Both are arts that need to be practiced and fine-tuned over and over again, as nothing in business remains static. That said, not all corporate settings provide ample opportunities to try new approaches to solving issues. By helping employees immerse themselves into service, they are given a chance to collaborate with others on solving different types of issues, which in turn can teach new ways of thinking that will be brought back to the workplace. For example, by serving as a board member with a local nonprofit, an employee is able to see organizational issues and business challenges from a unique perspective.

Senior Executives

By the time someone is a senior executive, it should be fair to assume they are effective at what they do. Sometimes, however, they can be rather set in their ways of doing things. What’s often frustrating for the more junior people in the organization is that their leaders may be out of touch with their teams and are insulated in their leadership. Basically, the leaders can begin to lack empathy for what it’s like to not be the one running the place.

The tricky thing about empathy is that it’s not something you learn in school or can just implement after reading a book. The good news, though, is that we can increase our empathy by opening ourselves up to learning, seeing and feeling new things. And, yes, service offers great opportunities for this. By working directly with those who are hungry, homeless, wounded or have some other challenge, senior level executives are almost guaranteed to see things from a new perspective. Over time, those feelings will begin to impact all that they do, including how they approach being a leader.

These are just a few examples of how service can benefit an organization – there are many more to be found at the intersection of CSR and HR. We have an opportunity to use service as a development tool in corporate America, and now is the time to act.

Brad Jamison is an award-winning professional who has built a career combining his love of media and passion for helping others. As an executive and humanitarian, he has leveraged the most powerful mediums to increase awareness, raise millions of dollars, encourage involvement and, above all, make a difference in the lives of others. Learn more on his website, Good Citizen.

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3 Ways to Honor Martin Luther King’s Legacy of Service and Social Justice

Guest post by Ann Saylor

Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr.Once in a while, a seemingly ordinary person rises up to be a hero, changing culture forever. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those men, and we now recognize him as a renowned American civil rights leader. He was hugely influential on American culture through his campaigns to end racial segregation and promote racial equality. To honor his legacy, the third Monday of January has been named a federal holiday. This year, it falls on January 19th.

Though many people have the day off from work or school, national service organizations have adopted the slogan A Day On, Not a Day Off to challenge Americans to rally together in service. Here are three ways your company can continue Dr. King’s legacy on Martin Luther King Day or throughout the year:

  1. Serve together. King said:

    “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

    Where can you and your employees share a little love in your community?  If you don’t already have a nonprofit partner in your corporate social responsibility plan, then find a daycare center, an animal shelter, a nursing home, or a community center (to name a few). Ask them how your employees can help, and make plans to serve.

  2. Work together to empower your community. Dr. King wisely believed:

    “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

    Study a community issue that is a fit with your company, such as homelessness, illiteracy, or hunger. Identify one of the root causes and develop a targeted action plan that will inspire change and strengthen impoverished areas of your community.

  3. Seek justice through advocacy. Rally your employees to speak up about community issues and challenge others to take action. Ponder Dr. King’s words in this quote:

    “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

    Identify a cause and a message that is important to your employees. Craft a plan for how you will spread your message and start speaking up – even if it’s uncomfortable.

Want more information on the strategies above? Get a free copy of the Seasons of Service Curriculum complete with three half-day experiences for leading an MLK Day event. It also has 12 highly interactive lessons plans to explore ways to use your individual gifts and talents to change the world. Finally, it outlines 11 half-day engaging and empowering service-learning experiences to introduce youth to meaningful service.  Request your copy by emailing cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

Ann Saylor is a nationally recognized trainer in positive youth development, service-learning, and play with purpose. She is also the co-author of 7 books including her latest, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, (published in September 2014 by Search Institute Press). Learn more through her website and her blog, or reach her at cad@TheAssetEdge.net or on Twitter @TheAssetEdge.

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CSR Food For Thought: Unselfish Selfies and Other 2014 CSR Spectaculars

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.




A Year in CSR: The Top 10 Trends of 2014
Cone Communications analyzed which CSR-related trends took the main stage in 2014, and came up with the top 10. As this Triple Pundit article put its, “2014 was a landmark year for corporate social responsibility.” From (un)selfish selfies to digital #trending, 2014 overflowed with CSR creativity. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

2014: The Year Sustainable Investment Went Mainstream
US SIF Foundation releases a report every other year on sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing trends. What did they find this year? SRI investments grew 76% since 2012! “Sustainable investment strategies are being applied across asset classes to promote corporate social responsibility…” said Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF. Check out this article from GreenBiz for a detailed account of the report’s findings.

Outstanding Citizenship Programs of 2014: RW Staff Picks
Realized Worth admits, “With so many truly fantastic employee volunteering programs out there, we couldn’t possibly narrow it down to a measly top five.” In this post, they highlight six companies’ volunteer programs that rocked 2014, according to Realized Worth staff. They encourage readers to share which programs they’d add to the list. So… which would you add?

Let the Countdown Begin! Top 14 Volunteering is CSR Post of 2014
It wouldn’t be New Year’s without a little self-reflection. At VolunteerMatch, we were curious to see which Volunteering is CSR blog posts were the most popular this year. So, we resurrected the most-viewed posts of 2014. While looking back on our year, we hope you find some useful information to carry you to a CSR-filled 2015.

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