3 Good People, 3 Good Causes, 3 Perfect Matches

VolunteerMatch's Video looks at how 3 different volunteers are making a differenceA senior trying yoga for the first time. A bobcat that can’t go back into the wild being cared for. A brother and sister strengthening their English skills after school. 

These vastly different activities have one thing in common. They’re made possible by the passion of volunteers. 

At VolunteerMatch, we make it easy for good people and good causes to connect. With our network of 100,000+ organizations, it’s no surprise that VolunteerMatch has connected close to 10 million volunteers with causes that light them up. Many of these connections come from corporate volunteers who use our employee solutions tool YourMatch to find their volunteering passions.

Since these initial connections happen online, we don’t always get to see firsthand the impact of these numerous connections – the impact on the volunteers themselves, the organizations they volunteer with, and the communities they serve.

That’s why we went out into our own community to see what volunteers who found their connections through VolunteerMatch were up to.

The results are truly moving.

In this short video, you’ll meet Louise, Sandra and Hannah, three volunteers making a big difference, each in their own unique way. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

3 Good People, 3 Good Causes, 3 Perfect Matches:

A Path for Change Appears – The Business Angle

Guest post by Kori Reed, vice president, Cause & Foundation, ConAgra Foods

A Path Appears - The Business Angle“Have courage and be kind.”

This is the mom wisdom from the 2015 Disney adaptation of the famous Cinderella story, and is, in essence, the theme of the movie.

As Washington Post Express film reporter Kristen Page-Kirby wrote, “What ‘Cinderella’ shows is that you can have courage, and you can be kind, and it might suck.” Those of us who work in corporate contributions or community engagement can relate.

After all, companies are made up of kind people – caring real-life mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, caregivers and more – and the entity as a whole is responsible for turning a profit for owners and investors. Our peers from finance and supply chain often don’t see our work on balanced scorecards, therefore, some of them struggle to see the strategy behind it. Yes, being kind and making friends on behalf of the company, while very rewarding, can suck for that reason.

Yet, much like our company peers, we are problem solvers on a regular basis. In our case, it’s solving problems in the community. While company project managers use the language of analyze, plan, do, check, our words include pilot testing, scaling ideas, off-setting labor costs via volunteerism, evidence-based interventions and pathways to prosperity.

So, how do we tackle an issue like poverty? Start with what works. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, award winning journalists did just that in their most recent book, A Path Appears. It includes pages of evidence-based ways to create opportunity among our nation’s and world’s most vulnerable. It is a call to action for individuals, communities and corporations alike, to be courageous and show kindness by helping others. (If you coordinate volunteerism for the company, the later chapters even address the benefits of that work. Helping others really helps us too!)

They include the role of business in creating pathways, and for me, that hit the sweet-spot. At ConAgra Foods, we know so well how hunger at a young age can harm a child’s chances for future growth, both physically and mentally.

As a visual learner, I reached out to WuDunn to develop the map of a path, a kind of a Chutes and Ladders for Life. In corporate speak, think of this as a human process maps. I hope it shows how possible it is for us to be strategic as well as kind, and do our part to break the cycle of poverty, a large complex issue that so encumbers our society and societies around the world.

It is in our collective interest that people have the ability purchase the goods and services we offer. Here’s hoping this visual path gives people the courage to jump in and sparks an idea for how to be kind to others in a way that creates opportunity for all. Alignment toward a goal is what we business people do well. Walking a path again and again also helps others see it more clearly. Have courage, and be kind; start here.

Celebrate the Fun Side of Volunteering with #FestiVOL15

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with VolunteerMatchEmployee volunteer programs have a myriad of benefits. One of the top, and often overlooked, benefits? They’re fun.

This National Volunteer Week (April 12-18, 2015), VolunteerMatch is celebrating the fun side of volunteering with our second annual FestiVOL. Time to put on those party hats, dig out those noisemakers, and shout with us, “Volunteering is AWESOME!”

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. One of our #FestiVOL15 goals is to help you, your company, and your employees strengthen and get creative with your employee volunteer program. We want you to get the most out of National Volunteer Week.

To help reach this goal, each day of the week we’ll post three nuggets of information: One piece of inspiration, one piece of knowledge, and one action. Check out our #FestiVOL15 webpage to follow along as they’re posted. You and your employees can also follow the hashtag #FestiVOL15 on Twitter to see everything as it’s released, and to join in the fun yourself!

Whether you run a great employee volunteer program, volunteer through your company, or volunteer on your own time, here’s to you!

Let the Countdown Begin! The Top 14 Volunteering is CSR Posts of 2014

Happy New Year from VolunteerMatch! Here are the top 13 blog posts about employee volunteering and CSR from 2013.In just a few short hours, many of us will be welcoming 2015 and celebrating a brand new year – a fresh start. Cheers to that!

Before the countdown to midnight begins, however, here’s another countdown. Stroll down memory lane with me as I look back on the 14 most popular Volunteering is CSR posts of 2014. I have a feeling you’ll find something useful to take with you into the new year.

14. VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn Built a Technology Bridge to the Future of Skilled Volunteering

13. Tracking the Data: What NOT to Do in the RFP Process

12. Meet MobileMatch™, and Engage Your Employees Anytime, Anywhere

11. How Influencer Marketing Can Strengthen Your Employee Volunteer Program

10. How Corporate Volunteer Programs Increase Employee Engagement

9. VolunteerMatch’s Corporate Volunteering Network is Now Global!

8. No Offense, but Your CSR Program is Boring

7. The Important Thing We Can Learn From MUFG Union Bank

6. No Money? No Problem! 14 Ways to Engage Employees and Save the World on a Slim Budget

5. 4 Easy and Creative Ideas for Engaging Employees in Skilled Volunteering

4. Volunteering Does the Body (and Your Employees) Good

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

2. People Make the Difference: The Joys of Discovery

And the number one most popular post of 2014?

1. 21 Ideas for Re-Purposing All Those Volunteer Event T-Shirts

Happy New Year from VolunteerMatch!

The Potential Profit in Serving Nonprofits

Guest post by Kari Travis, The Super Service Challenge

The Super Service Challenge helped an Arizona real estate firm enrich its work culture by motivating the company to step up for a worthy cause.

Read about how The Super Service Challenge helped an Arizona real estate firm enrich its work culture by motivating the company to step up for a worthy cause.

Dub Dellis thought the Super Service Challenge sounded too good to be true. As Chief Operating Officer of Walt Danley Realty in Paradise, Arizona, Dellis heard about The Challenge’s drawing out of a $1 million giveaway for nonprofits, and felt a healthy skepticism. But when a trusted acquaintance recommended The Challenge as an opportunity to make a difference, Dellis took the next step.

The results amazed him, and today Dellis calls The Challenge a dream come true – a dream that allows companies across the nation to improve their performance while also making a positive impact in their communities.

How service transformed Walt Danley Realty by turning a giving company into a company of givers.

The Super Service Challenge lit a fire for the team at Walt Danley Realty, according to Dellis. The company was already a close-knit community, with employees devoted to serving throughout the community. But what the firm needed was a platform on which it could encourage its entire team to serve a local cause.

The 2013 Super Service Challenge felt like the perfect opportunity, Dellis says.

The entire office participated by volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Team members created videos about their service projects which they then entered into The Challenge’s prize drawing. The group had a lot of fun – so much, in fact, that they served at St. Mary’s several times again following The Super Service Challenge project.

When the prizes were announced, Walt Danley Realty won $25,000 for St. Mary’s Food Bank, enough to provide 175,000 meals for those in need. It was an exhilarating day for Dellis and rest of the Walt Danley team – and for everyone at St. Mary’s.

“It lifted us up as a company,” Dellis remembers. “We got way more out of it than even St. Mary’s Food Bank. Positive feelings and positive emotions translate to a better workplace.”

Team morale soared, and Dellis remembers the office was excited for an entire month following the announcement. It was an unforgettable experience, and one that gave him and his coworkers a sense of real accomplishment. This year, the team is participating in The Challenge again, motivated once again by the opportunity to make a lasting impact through service.

“These kinds of things make you stop and value what you have,” Dellis says. “It takes just 10 minutes to make a video – and to do something about it.”

The Super Service Challenge is a nationwide movement to transform business through service.

Getting involved is simple. Here’s how it works:

First, grab a few co-workers and go serve your favorite nonprofit(s). Next, create a short video on your phone that answers two questions: how did you serve, and how did serving impact your team? Finally, enter your video online for a chance to win part of the $1 million giveaway. All prize funding is donated in support of the nonprofits served by the winning teams.

The Super Service Challenge runs until November 30, 2014. For more information on how your business can participate, contact Anna Weaver at aweaver@superservicechallenge.com, or visit the website at www.superservicechallenge.com.

How has volunteering helped bring your team closer together? Tell us about it below!

People Make the Difference: The Joys of Discovery

Each day, people discover ways they can make a difference. And as the VolunteerMatch network grows, so does our impact.You may have noticed lately that we’ve been highlighting the data and stats in our 2013 Annual Impact Report. And these numbers are exciting, don’t get me wrong. We’re data nerds with the best of them.

But data isn’t the whole picture, especially when we’re talking about social impact. The truth is, there’s no substitute for the stories behind those numbers. These are what show us that each one of us – staff member, employee, volunteer, company, nonprofit – can make a difference. Hearing about real-life stuff going on in the network is what inspires us to take action.

So as you browse the Impact Report, take a look at some of these great micro stories that showcase the amazing work happening in the VolunteerMatch network. You’ll see how technology, and your company’s use of it, creates real change in the community.

Each day, people discover ways they can make a difference. And as our network grows, so does our impact.

Keep up the great work!

Has VolunteerMatch made a difference for your company and employees? Share it on social media using #vmstory, or submit the full story here!

Has VolunteerMatch made a difference for your company and employees? Share it on social media using #vmstory, or submit the full story here!

21 Ideas for Re-Purposing All Those Volunteer Event T-Shirts

Make a dress out of volunteer event t-shirts Is there any symbol of the volunteer experience more iconic and recognizable than the t-shirt? This cultural mainstay of American volunteerism represents unity, pride and purpose to everyone bonded by its bright colors and advertised program, organization or mission.

When it comes to showcasing our passions and involvements, our t-shirt collections define us. Indeed: we are what we wear.

For those with years of service under their belts, you’ve probably got a drawer full of t-shirts that rarely see the light of day. Too sentimental and hard-earned to give away, too starchy or unisex to make it into your everyday wardrobe – what is to be the fate of these wearable certificates of community involvement?

Luckily, creative minds have put their energies toward inspiring re-use options for this personal, yet impractical collection. Here is just a sampling of the fun and funky ways to give your volunteer wardrobe a second life, whether you are an animal lover, fashionista, home decorator, or deal-seeker looking for do-it-yourself gift ideas. Enjoy!

For the At-Home Artisan:

Make a rug out of volunteer event t-shirtsMake your colorful collection brighten up a room with a cozy rag rug or a braided basket.

Want to keep your t-shirts more intact and be reminded daily of all you’ve been a part of? This t-shirt quilt is a total favorite! Get those memories and feel-good vibes out of the drawer and onto your bed – it’s safe to say, this quilt will help you sleep at night!

Easy coasters and fabric bowls are perfect touches for beginner crafters to start with.

For the Do-It-Yourself Trendsetter

Make a scarf out of volunteer event t-shirts.Pinterest is bursting with intriguing ways to “upcycle” your t-shirts into more artistic wearable designs. Check out making a fringe scarf, a halter top, or even jewelry out of your old tees, and enjoy the comfort and softness of cotton while making a much more upscale fashion statement.

Your t-shirt is a blank slate, a palette, and with ideas like these, you can play trendy designer and show everyone how fashionable it is to help others. Ooh, community service looks good on you!

For the Homemade Gift Enthusiast

Have a friend who loves a particular cause? Make a no-sew tote bag out of a t-shirt with a compelling quote, striking image or the name and date of an event she loved, and she’ll be able to showcase her pride daily, without having to re-wear the same t-shirt day after day.

For the cook in the family, a fun t-shirt you just don’t wear anymore can become a go-to apron – might be the perfect solution for one that already had a stain or paint splatter.

A braided rug can make a lovely housewarming gift for the entryway, and this darling, soft headband is a perfect pick-me-up for a sister.

For the Pet Lover

Make a dog toy out of volunteer event t-shirts.Make a braided doggie chew toy! This is a fun one to do with your kids – no sewing necessary, and they’ll have a blast making a gift for the family dog. Once you’ve got it down, keep up the do-gooder spirit that got you the tees in the first place, and make a batch to bring to your local pet shelter. The animals rarely get new toys, so it’ll send the pups and the caretakers over the moon. This is an awesome activity for a birthday party, camp service project, or rainy afternoon playdate.

For older kids ready to take it to the next level, here’s a crocheted t-shirt kitty cave for your feline friends – washable, durable and cozy.

For the Mom-to-Be

Make a quilt out of volunteer event t-shirtsNo one wants to overspend on clothes for little ones that will no longer fit in 6 months, so why not make pajamas, dresses, even blankets out of your soft, well- worn t’s? Here’s to passing on the spirit of volunteerism to the next generation!

Looking for an adorable gift for a baby shower? These little lamb toys will add a soft touch to any nursery, and this knotted baby hat is sure to warm heads and hearts alike.

Thanks, volunteering, for the starting materials for all of these cute, crafty and useful designs! Just more proof that doing good in the community always ends up making the volunteer feel awesome, too.

Happy crafting! Need more t-shirts to complete these? We know where you can sign up to volunteer again…