Let the Press Inspire Your Employee Volunteers

Let the press inspire your employee volunteersDuring the holiday season, giving back tends to become a larger part of the news media conversation – and they call up VolunteerMatch to find out how people can do good through volunteering.

The recent news features below all suggest ways people can get involved in helping others – no matter what time of year it is. You can share these stories with your employees to inspire them to find volunteer opportunities that are meaningful to them.

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities This Holiday Season | Fox Business

How to avoid the volunteer trap | CNNMoney

Give It Up for the Greater Good | Working Mother

4 Benefits to Volunteering and 4 Websites to Help You Do So | Yahoo.com

9 Affordable Holiday Traditions to Start This Year | USNews.com

For more press coverage of volunteering and VolunteerMatch, check out our Press Room.

Resource Roundup: Inspiring Blogs About Hunger

Does your reading change the world?This month VolunteerMatch is focused on all the ways we can fight hunger. The blogs below are a great resource for exploring ways your company can get involved in the cause.

Feeding America Blog

Feeding America is the nation’s leading hunger relief organization. Their blog is run by Feeding America staff who are passionate about bringing awareness to the invisibility of hunger in America. This blog is a great place to learn more about their national outreach programs such as Hunger Child Corps and Hunger Study Research, as well as federal public policy programs such as SNAP and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP).

Notable post: Impact of Childhood Hunger on Health & Education

Action Against Hunger Blog

Action Against Hunger is an organization that is focused on responding to emergency hunger situations of war, conflict, and natural disaster. Their blog posts focus on current events, breaking news, advocacy and company partnerships. Read this blog if you’re specifically interested in international emergency relief efforts.

Notable post: Top Six Ways To Become A Savvier Social Supporter

Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility Blog

Cisco’s CSR blog is a great resource for companies who are looking to implement or improve employee volunteer programs. For example, take a look at their annual giving campaign, Global Hunger Relief, which has provided over one million dollars in aid to hunger relief organizations. Or read highlights from their 2012 CSR report.

Notable post: Cisco Employees Take On Global Hunger With Local Engagement

General Mills Company Blog

A Taste of General Mills is the official company blog. Their blog provides an inside look into sustainability, social innovation, philanthropy and community engagement programs. This blog is primarily run by members of the Corporate Communications team, with occasional appearances by guest bloggers and industry experts.

Notable post: Addressing Hunger Through Food Waste Reduction

Do you follow a great hunger-related blog? Tell us about it in the comments.

(Photo derived from work of Yassine Mrabet)

Public Figures That Can Help Your Company Fight Hunger

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick donating his time at a local food bank.

Alongside the food banks and food drives that work year-long to feed those in need, there are a number of public figures that are contributing to the efforts to end hunger.

Not only do these well-known individuals draw extra attention to a critical issue during a very noisy time of year, but their projects can provide inspiration for engaging your employees, their families and the entire community in your end-of-year CSR efforts.

Craigslist Foundation Winds Up Its Good Work

This article also appears on Engaging Volunteers and on Huffington Post.

The Craigslist Foundation just announced it is ceasing operations after more than a decade of working to strengthen the work of grassroots community organizations and activists.

While the specifics of their situation are still being held closely, the immediate question on most people’s minds is what’ll happen with its well-known programs like the popular Nonprofit Boot Camp series and LikeMinded, the Foundation’s recently launched resource-sharing platform for social change.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to the folks at Craigslist Foundation. But the good news is that the search has begun to find new homes for those programs. As president and CEO Lynn Luckow wrote:

In the coming weeks, our staff will work diligently to distill the lessons learned over ten years, and to find appropriate homes for our three key programs: Nonprofit Boot Camp (ready for its 9th Annual event), LikeMinded (ready for its next iteration after 9 months of user experience), and Alliance Building (building a network of community builders).

As most know, Craigslist Foundation was launched with the financial support and connections of Craigslist.org (which, despite the .org name, is a for-profit).  That was one reason the Foundation quickly became a fixture on the Bay Area’s nonprofit scene. However, as an operating foundation, Craigslist Foundation wasn’t giving away grants from an interest-bearing account; instead, it was a shoe-string operation run from modest offices here in San Francisco, raising most of its own money to run its programs.

For many years, former E.D. Darian Heyman Rodriguez was the Foundation’s best-known team member. Darian moved on a few years back and is now making change through his Social Media for Nonprofits event series. Meanwhile the foundation continued on… creating impact through its events and its new platform for resource sharing.

Over the years, it became pretty obvious that many of the Foundation’s signature programs were competing for participation and mindshare with the work of other social ventures. For example, even while their Boot Camp series struggled to grow into new locations, it shared a lot in common with similar events for activists and nonprofits. LikeMinded, launched in 2011, now treads where existing services like IdeaEncore and Issuelab already go. The Foundation also crossed over into volunteer engagement through its fiscal sponsorship of allforgood.org, which replicated many of the functions of SocialActions and my own organization, VolunteerMatch, while struggling to find a revenue model. (Allforgood.org moved under the umbrella of the Points of Light Institute last year.)

And yet there is definitely no doubt that Craigslist Foundation changed lives. Thousands of activists and nonprofits connected with each other through their programs, creating real change on the ground in our communities. The organization also helped spark a larger trend of making “being involved” both cool and accessible for people from coast to coast.

So yes, hats off to Craigslist Foundation for ten great years of making a difference. But credit too to the staff and board for recognizing the strengths of other organizations that were doing good work too — and being bold enough to say: “Enough. We’ve done our part.”

We Can’t All Be Google – But with a Great Employee Volunteer Program, We Can Come Close

Google Serve 2011 volunteers in NYC

Google Serve 2011 volunteers in NYC

Don’t get me wrong – I think Tony Schwartz was very thorough in his Sept. 19th article in Harvard Business Review, “The Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place to Work.” However, I also think that his quick mention of corporate social responsibility requires more explanation and exploration.

How to Fully Engage Employees

In the article Schwartz cites a well-known correlation between employee productivity and how invested they are in their jobs and committed to their companies. Unfortunately, only 20% of employees report being fully engaged in this way.

So Schwartz asks and answers the inevitable question: How do we get these employees more engaged? What aspects of a company make it a great employer?

There are four basic categories of employee needs, Schwartz explains: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In order to fully engage employees, employers must invest in fulfilling each of these. Then Schwartz provides a comprehensive list of ways companies can address these four areas, from basic salary standards to healthy food to professional development opportunities.

Schwartz vehemently points out that he doesn’t believe any company currently in existence meets all of these needs. “The one that comes closest,” he says, “is Google.”

Coming in last on Schwartz’s list is “Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits.”

And Where is CSR?

Coming in at #12, the last item on Schwartz’s list, is “Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits.” Schwartz provides little additional explanation for what this means, indicating that companies should somehow add value to the world and enable their employees to find meaning in their work.

This concept of infusing corporate culture with “meaning” has become an increasingly important piece of the overall employee engagement pie, which is why I feel it got short-changed in Schwartz’s article. From our work with our corporate clients here at VolunteerMatch, we know that adding value to the world as a company is a multi-faceted issue, tackled in different ways by different businesses. I think it needs to be further explored in the context of meeting employee needs beyond Schwartz’s item #12.

Reports like Cone’s Cause Evolution Study show that employees are becoming increasingly invested in their company’s support of social and environmental issues. More than 75% of corporate employees want to be able to impact causes by volunteering through their company.

And when they’re able to get involved in volunteering efforts with their employers, these employees are 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies.

At VolunteerMatch, our goal is to help companies develop the best program for engaging employees in these “do-good” types of initiatives, including partnering with brands for cause marketing campaigns, hosting internal employee volunteering recruitment and tracking websites, providing technology for organizing special company volunteer events, and more. And if you’re just not sure what the best option for your business is, we also recently launched a Consulting Service.

When your company has a dynamic cause-focused program with a strong employee volunteering element, you can see immediate engagement results like this:

Engaged employees

Having a purpose that’s bigger than your profit is indeed one part of a larger employee engagement picture, and employee volunteering is, in my opinion, a key element of that purpose. Perhaps if more companies recognize this, we’ll be seeing CSR and employee volunteering higher up on the next list.

What do you think are the most important factors for engaging employees and making your company a great place to work?

Surprise! Report Shows Gen X Leads Volunteer Participation

Infographic from The National Service Blog

We often hear how Millennials are the most conscious consumers and that Boomers transition from careers to civic engagement. But according to a new federal report on volunteer trends, the oft-overlooked Gen Xers are becoming an important factor in social good efforts.

Generation X (those born 1965-1981) shines in the latest release of “Volunteering In America,” the annual report on service and volunteering from the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2010, overall volunteer participation levels edged lower while the number of hours served nationally stayed flat – a likely indication that the most involved volunteers are putting even more time and energy into giving back. And Gen Xers are the only generation volunteering more hours than years past.

Corvington Out as CNCS CEO: Who’s Next?

Note: This story also appeared at Engaging Volunteers, our blog for social change organizations.

Late last month the reporters at the Chronicle of Philanthropy broke word that the Corporation for National and Community Service probably wishes they hadn’t. After a little more than a year on the job, Patrick Corvington, the new CEO of CNCS, would be resigning soon to take an “opportunity in the nonprofit community.”

The story is interesting for two reasons. First, ordinarily CNSC coordinates this kind of news pretty carefully. With the National Conference on Volunteering and Service scheduled to meet just a few weeks away in early June, it seemed like a good bet that any change in leadership would be announced then. How would the agency respond to having the keyhole pried open?

Second, perhaps because that opportunity was unspecified, it caused some to wonder whether Corvington was going to a new position, or running from one that just wasn’t working out.