When someone says, “country music,” usually volunteering does not come to mind. But the two have more in common than it would initially seem, for at the core of both lie two integral values: family and community.
CMT One Country is dedicated to connecting its viewers to local volunteer opportunities. Founded on those very values of family and community, CMT, a subsidiary of MTV and Viacom, broadcasts popular country artists and music programs. Its “One Country” volunteer program encourages its national audience of almost 100 million homes to take action and give back to their communities.
For the past seven years, CMT One Country has used VolunteerMatch Solutions to make finding national volunteer opportunities as easy as possible.
This great video from BlessingWhite reminds us that the term “employee engagement” can mean different things for different companies – and even different people within each company.
What’s important is to focus on making sure everyone at the company is drawn into the culture of engagement that you’re creating. At VolunteerMatch, we know that volunteering can go a long way to closing the gap between employees who are almost really engaged, and those who are fully engaged.
What is your company’s definition of employee engagement? What is your own personal definition? What role does volunteering play for you?
A year is a long time, especially in the quickly growing world of employee volunteering and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Before we all jump into 2014, take a look at what resonated most with our audiences in 2013.
Share these blog articles with colleagues and friends to start the New Year off with some new knowledge, some good advice, and a bang!
I’ve been quite content to simply ignore all the chatter about Millennials.
It seems reminiscent of the obsession and stereotyping about Boomers, which when it came down to it, didn’t reflect the Boomers I know and also didn’t impact me directly. Perhaps there was a tinge of jealousy since my own generation – GenX—hasn’t gotten the same analysis. Regardless, it didn’t catch my attention until recently.
During an internal discussion about trends in Corporate Social Responsibility, some VolunteerMatch staff started talking about Millennials and how their approach to changing the world differs from other generations. There’s a nice infographic about “The Next Generation of American Giving” from Blackbaud that sums up some of the preferences, social media habits and giving differences between generations.
“Fast Future” author David Burstein describes Millennials’ approach to social change as “pragmatic idealism,” a deep desire to make the world a better place combined with an understanding that doing so requires building new institutions and working inside and outside existing institutions.
Already we’re seeing swift changes related to how Millennials are interacting with existing organizational structures: by pulling more and more companies into CSR, and also pushing the boundaries of community engagement by creating B corps. But taking it one step further, how will Millennials change the very essence of long-running corporate philanthropy programs around the globe once THEY are the CEOs and decision-makers? Now that has piqued my interest.
According to CECP’s Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, direct cash donations still dominated at 47% of total giving in 2012, but non-cash contributions are growing at a faster rate of 10% or more each year since 2008. In addition, “paid-release-time employee volunteer programs were offered by 70% of companies in 2012, compared to just 53% of companies before the global recession.” Certainly some of this stems from slow economic growth, but I’d argue that the next generation, as leaders, is already playing a role.
I predict that companies will finally awaken from their complacency and pledge-drives to find exciting experiments with collective impact and real community action. For those larger institutions that have been the self-appointed leaders in the “space” and whose programs don’t go very far beyond giving money or celebrating their stale annual events – watch out. Just looking at the 200+ companies that I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my tenure here at VolunteerMatch, there is something exciting in the air.
It’s a no brainer that technology will play a key role for any organization interested in creating scalable solutions to the globe’s problems. VolunteerMatch is a great place to start – albeit an obvious one at this point. The web’s largest network for volunteer engagement with turn-key solutions for companies, VolunteerMatch facilitates the self-led, community-based engagement that Millennials really get jazzed about. I’m not on the sales team, just proud of the work we do. And I see us as a perfect partner for the new generation of engagement professionals whose employees make it clear they want a deeper, more integrated program.
So, Millennials, I’m ready for you to be in charge and excited to see where you take things. Hey, just promise to take me with you?
What do mountain climbing, legos, Karl Marx and employee engagement have in common?
Before watching this video, we would have said: Absolutely nothing. But now, behavioral economist Dan Ariely has us convinced. In his TED Talk from TEDxRiodelaPlata in October, 2012, Ariely addresses the question: What really motivates us to work? (Hint: It’s not money.)
Watch Ariely’s talk below:
At VolunteerMatch, we work with more than 170 corporate partners to motivate their employees to work better – for their businesses and for the world. The employee volunteer programs we facilitate provide meaning that might otherwise be lacking in the day-to-day of many people’s jobs. And the work accomplished through volunteer activities and pro bono projects fosters in the employees pride in their work and their companies.
What do you think about the connection between employee volunteering, motivation, happiness and productivity at work?
This month, our Volunteer Spotlight featured Sasha Daucus, who has found a way to bring her love for technology and passion for volunteering together in her role as online community host for the TechSoup Forums. Her story shows that volunteering can be about something you love, and can be even more fulfilling when it relates to your everyday work as well.
The story of another TechSoup Forum volunteer, however, takes this idea of virtual volunteering even farther; all the way to Africa to be exact.
Peter first joined the TechSoup forums as a user, while working for the Scottish Museums Council. “[I] was more inspired by what I could learn from the forums than what I could contribute,” he explains. It wasn’t until he moved to Kenya and began working with the Kenya Society for the Blind that he felt he had something to bring to the forums himself. Now he’s a forum expert on all things assistive technology software and technology for development.
In addition to opportunities in your own community, sites like VolunteerMatch make it easy for you to find ways to volunteer virtually as well. And, as Peter’s story shows us, you can volunteer from literally anywhere.
For Peter, the TechSoup forum provides him with a sense of community in his otherwise remote and challenging, yet also rewarding, work in Africa. Through volunteering virtually in the forums, he has found a sense of community that has eluded him because of the nature of his local work. In the TechSoup forums, Peter is able to interact with other tech-savvy people and engage the virtual community on subjects that are often beyond the knowledge and resources of the African communities he works with.
Virtual volunteering is a great opportunity for your employees to get involved with a great cause and become a part of a unique community. Are you helping your employees get engaged with online communities through virtual skilled volunteering? Share your stories in the comments below.
“Instead of a film about policy, about which system is better, would cover more, or cost less, REMOTE AREA MEDICAL is a film about people, about a proud Appalachian community banding together to try and provide some relief for friends and neighbors who are simply out of options.” — Good Pitch
Every once in awhile we come across powerful examples of volunteers who push the limits to help their communities, instead of waiting around for others to save the day. REMOTE AREA MEDICAL is one such story of a practical community solution to a pressing national healthcare problem.
The REMOTE AREA MEDICAL documentary is a touching story of what’s possible when people come together to help a community in need. The documentary highlights a ground-level solution to issues of healthcare that have yet to be resolved at the national level. While it’s true that these problems are a hot topic on Capitol Hill, the people of rural American communities can’t wait that long; they need medical attention now, which is where the Remote Area Medical Foundation (RAM) has stepped in.
Remote Area Medical’s team of skilled volunteers come together from all over the country to provide free medical, dental and eye care to people in remote areas of the United States and around the world. The organization is completely reliant on public support and volunteer commitment, as it has been since it was founded in 1985.
While originally focused on bringing quality healthcare to South America, RAM currently does sixty percent of its work in the United States; it turns out there is actually a greater need at home. Now, the organization holds “pop-up” clinics around the country, in remote regions such as the Appalachians, where many people are uninsured and access to medical care is hard to find. These three-day clinics bring in upwards of 2,000 patients each, some of whom have never seen a doctor before.
Inspired by Volunteering
Directors Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman first became fascinated with the organization and its cause while volunteering at a RAM clinic in Pikesville, KY in 2011. Reichert’s aunt, a retired nurse, introduced them to the organization and set them up at the registration table. The two film and media people were blown away by the number of people who came to the clinic, and the kindness of the volunteers brought them to tears.
The following year, the two returned to RAM, this time to document the amazing stories of both clinic volunteers and attendees. The REMOTE AREA MEDICAL documentary is the result of their own emotional experience at the clinics, and of countless hours piecing together the larger story of community, volunteerism and medical need.
The interactions between the volunteers and the people visiting the free clinic are mixed and emotionally charged. These are sometimes happy and sometimes sad encounters, but one thing is clear: they are life-changing experiences for everyone involved, including those watching on the big screen.
Local Solutions to National Problems
A RAM “Pop-up” clinic in Briston, TN (Photo courtesy of Capital Film Fund)
Remote Area Medical shows us that national problems can be solved at the community level. Through passionate and skilled volunteers, this organization has helped to provide healthcare to thousands of Americans who would otherwise be suffering. Instead of waiting around for health bills to pass, these medical professionals take action.
Let’s take RAM’s story as inspiration, to challenge us to find ways we can serve our own communities. Imagine if we addressed the issues of education, unemployment, welfare and other national topics ourselves; then people wouldn’t have to wait on politics to solve their problems. We can work together to solve them for our communities.
You may not be a medical professional, but ask yourself how your skills and the skills of your employees can help solve other pressing issues locally. What are some ways that you can take action in your own community today?
The REMOTE AREA MEDICAL documentary is currently touring at film festivals around the country. For more information about the film, and to see when it’s coming to your area, check out their Facebook page.