Mobilize Employee Champions for #GivingTuesday

It may come right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but #GivingTuesday is all about giving back to the causes we care about most. And volunteering can be a great way to do that. And engaging employees in #GivingTuesday initiatives is a great project to add to your company’s calendar.

Building on the buzz and energy of #GivingTuesday can help your company increase impact and support for the causes you support. This webinar discusses ways for you to do exactly that.

Join speakers from #GivingTuesday, Salesforce Foundation and VolunteerMatch for this special webinar to talk about ways you can organize your networks of family, friends, or coworkers to make a big difference for your cause on #GivingTuesday.

You are more powerful than you realize – and by mobilizing your employees to be volunteer champions, you can harness that power to help the causes your company supports, and that you care about.

Watch the webinar on YouTube.

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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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The Important Thing We Can Learn From MUFG Union Bank

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: MUFG Union Bank.MUFG Union Bank Volunteers at JA Finance Park 2014

The employees at MUFG Union Bank, or MUB, recognize something important. A concept so important that it’s the driving force behind Pro Bono Week. They recognize that volunteering their specialized professional skills is one of the most impactful contributions they can make to society. That’s why they created their annual Financial Literacy Campaign. During this three-month campaign, employees go out into their communities to teach financial education. They make presentations and facilitate workshops that equip their neighbors with skills to manage their own finances. In 2014’s campaign, MUB employees volunteered over 4,200 hours to this awesome pro bono endeavor.

But it doesn’t stop there. These amazing folks do pro bono work year-round with nonprofit partners in their communities. While the focus is financial education, employees offer their skills in all kinds of areas. All in all, MUB employees have tracked 42,000 volunteer hours this year alone.

Looking for an easy way to track your company’s pro bono impact? Visit VolunteerMatch Solutions today to get started.

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Challenge Your Employees to Go Pro Bono: A Lesson from Morgan Stanley

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: Morgan Stanley.Volunteers from the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge

Morgan Stanley doesn’t just encourage its employees to volunteer. It challenges them. The Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge pairs some of the company’s best workers with 12 nonprofits for eight weeks. During this time, the groups work together to assess and improve the nonprofits’ business and financial strategies. The final result is a plan complete with tangible next steps and tools for future success. The results are invaluable, but if you had to put a price on it, it would be… $6.8 million. This five-year total is equivalent to 45,000 hours of pro bono work.

But it’s not just the nonprofits that benefit. Morgan Stanley employee David Kosh, who participated in the program in 2013, claims the experience was “eye-opening, educational and inspirational”. He learned about the nonprofit sector, gained professional connections, and improved his own skills. Pro bono work, along with other types of volunteering, is truly a win-win arrangement.

Want to be the next Morgan Stanley in terms of pro bono excellence? Visit VolunteerMatch Solutions to learn how to get your company’s employees volunteering.

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Raising the Pro Bono Bar: The U.S. Bank Law Division

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: The U.S. Bank Law Division.Volunteers from US Bank Law Division

Pro bono work was made famous by the law profession, and the crew at the U.S. Bank Law Division is living up to this precedent.

The U.S. Bank Law Division works all across the U.S. at places such as a Vet Law Clinic, Housing Court, Immigrant Law Center, and Children’s Law Center. In the Twin Cities region alone, they’ve donated their time and skills to eight clinics.

In 2013, 70% of their lawyers engaged in pro bono activities. Even their non-lawyers got involved at a rate of 52%. The U.S. Bank Law Division is rightfully proud of their staff. Talk about impressive! They cite pro bono work as a priority for both their employees and their company as a whole.

Pictured above are some of the U.S. Bank’s pro bono volunteers. From left to right: Melissa Vermeersch, Sarah Stroebel (Chair), Jeannie Mccarver, Shannon Mahoney (Coordinator), Kyle Bakken, and Nick Richtman.

Encourage your own employees to get involved with pro bono and other volunteering opportunities with VolunteerMatch Solutions.

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How to Design a Volunteer Program for Your Small Business

Guest post by Scott Huntington

Tips for designing a volunteer program for your small business.As a small business, finding ways to give back is important. Volunteering is a way to do something “better” for the community your business is in. It allows your employees to cooperate in a new way and creates a sense of empowerment.

However, creating a volunteer program for your business might not be the easiest task in the world. With thousands of choices available, how do you decide in which direction to proceed?

Why Choose a Cause?

Even though the benefits for giving and volunteering in the workplace are hard to dispute, many small business struggle to choose a specific cause to support. It’s difficult; you may have employees with a variety of causes close to their hearts, or have hesitations about aligning with one specific cause. When these barriers exist, volunteering efforts fall short, never take off or become scattered. None of these help your mission to give back. Choosing a cause and committing to it is a good way to stay focused and effective in your volunteer program.

5 Questions to Consider When Designing a Program

Below are a few questions and factors to consider when creating a volunteer program for your small business:

1. Does my business already donate to something?

Does your business already donate to a specific cause? If so, developing a volunteer program can be a no-brainer; simply align your actions with your giving. It’s likely your employees are already engaged in the cause and would be enthusiastic if volunteer opportunities would become available. If they’re not engaged, it may be time to find something that they’re more likely to care about.

2. Is there a natural relationship between our products/services and a specific cause?

Think about the products and/or services your business provides. Is there a natural link between those services and ways you could volunteer? For example, a shoe retailer could donate shoes to an underprivileged country – like TOMS has been doing for years. From there, the company could create mission trips and other ways for employees to become involved in the giving process.

Smaller companies like Mr. Rooter or AquaPhoenix, where clean water is the entire point of their business, could find a charity that is dedicated to providing the world with clean water. Food business or wholesalers could donate food to local food kitchens and employees could volunteer on a rotating schedule. Is there a natural link between your products and a volunteering opportunity? If so, that’s a perfect place to start.

3. Is there a local charity you could become involved with?

Sometimes the biggest movements start locally. Local initiatives are likely to be important to your employees and make excellent starting points for volunteerism. Run a search on a site like VolunteerMatch.org or reach out to your local Chamber to find out what charities surround your business’s physical location. Find out if there’s a way to get involved.

When you volunteer locally, you’re able to see the results first hand, and this could raise the excitement factor among your employees. It also can create a little positive buzz about the company and maybe even get your name in the local paper, which is always a plus. That shouldn’t be your motivation, but it’s a nice perk of going local.

4. Does my business have past ventures or partners that could have available volunteering opportunities?

Look back over the history of your business. Have any of your past clients been nonprofit organizations or charities? If so, you could revive the relationship by looking for ways to volunteer with those past clients. It adds a personal factor that highlights the fact you value your past clients and customers.

5. What matters to my employees?

While your employees may change from time to time, it’s still important to empower them to get involved in the design of a volunteer program. Set up a meeting to announce your company’s new focus and let them know their input matters. From there, put together a survey and encourage all employees to participate. You could provide a list of 5 potential charities, or ask employees to submit their own ideas. Look for overlap and narrow it down to two. From there, hold a vote. When your employees feel as though they’ve been a part of the process, they’re more likely to take ownership and to become involved in the volunteering process.

Creating a volunteer program is an essential aspect of giving back to and becoming part of your business’s community. If you’re unsure of where to start inside your company or organization, consider the 5 questions above prior to moving forward.

Has your small business implemented a volunteer program? Tell us about it!

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger with a passion for volunteering. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com.

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How Corporate Volunteer Programs Increase Employee Engagement

Guest post by Scott Huntington

Volunteers from Whirlpool pose with school supplies during the company's 2012 Volunteer Week.

Volunteers from Whirlpool pose with school supplies during the company’s 2012 Volunteer Week.

Business magazines and blogs frequently discuss how important it is for employees to work together in teams, but have you ever thought about whether your workplace may be suffering from a lack of overall employee engagement?

When employees are not committed to their jobs, they may not be as productive and might even start looking for other places to work. Fortunately, corporate volunteer programs could remedy the common problem of low employee engagement and help your workers learn to progress towards common goals, as well.

Volunteering Creates a Sense of Purpose

Most people want to be able to feel they’re doing something good with their time and their lives. It can be hard to come to those conclusions if a person feels like he or she is stuck in a monotonous job or is just uncertain of how particular work duties fit into the overall scheme of what the company is trying to achieve.

However, volunteerism offers a great way for people to remember just how valuable their time is, especially when it is used for the benefit of others. Eventually, that could translate to people being more willing to pitch in and go above and beyond what their job titles dictate that they should do while on the clock at work.

Employee Retention Could Increase

There is also evidence to suggest employees expect workplaces to offer volunteer opportunities. A recent article from Forbes discussed an in-depth survey performed by America’s Charities, which found how 68 percent of respondents looked to employers to provide ways to give back. In some cases, that meant instituting a workplace giving program, and in others, employees wanted permission to use work hours for volunteer purposes.

Clearly, volunteerism is becoming more and more important for today’s workers. If a workplace doesn’t meet the desire its employees have to do good for others, it makes sense why some people might start looking for workplaces that are built around more generous-hearted ideals.

Volunteering Builds Good Leaders

Employees who volunteer are also often willing to frequently lead others, even if they are not in supervisory positions. There are several reasons why this is the case. For starters, volunteerism helps people expand their perspectives, which can often mean they become much more in tune with things happening outside of the workplace.

Additionally, being a volunteer often causes a person to discover new talents. That’s especially true if he or she has a very open mind and is willing to pitch in wherever it is necessary, even if that means going outside a comfort zone.

Acquiring skill sets tends to make a person feel more self-confident. Plus, once that individual enjoys the kind of broader worldview volunteerism can cultivate, he or she may feel compelled to not only leap into action and improve the world, but make the work environment better, too. Often, colleagues notice that attitude and want to follow suit.

Case Study

WebpageFX, an internet marketing company, has seen a huge jump in employee engagement since they started their Pencils of Promise program. The employees call their volunteer project “#FXBuilds” and are working to raise $25,000 to build a school in rural Guatemala. They’ve been working hard and feeling extremely rewarded at their progress so far. Their excitement is spreading and other local businesses like Bortek Industries have decided to look into Pencils of Promise and other employee volunteer programs as well.

These are just a few reasons why increased employee engagement and volunteerism can go hand-in-hand. When employees are not engaged, the workplace could suffer in ways ranging from loss of profits to higher turnover rates. Consider giving your employees ways to volunteer and see if they become more engaged as a result.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger with a passion for volunteering. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com.

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