They have facilitated millions of employee volunteer hours. All they have to do is pick up the phone, and corporate executives invest in volunteering. Some claim that they came up with the term “CSR.” They are: The Most Interesting Client Relations Managers in the World.
1. Give us your elevator speech — what do you do at VolunteerMatch?
I support the community of nonprofits and volunteers that visit our site every day. Whether it’s a volunteer looking for a way to get involved in their hometown, or a nonprofit looking to grow their volunteer program, I’m here to point them in the right direction and help make sure their experience with VolunteerMatch is a positive one.
I also work with our Education & Training team to deliver free webinars for nonprofits every week. Topics range from interview strategies and creating a great volunteer training program, to using social media for volunteer engagement and how to look at your volunteer program strategically. Finally, I also act as the voice of our nonprofit and volunteer users, advocating for their feedback and ideas as we continue to improve our service and make it even easier for good people and good causes to connect.
2. What brought you to VolunteerMatch? How long have you been here?
I am a huge believer in the value of stepping outside your own little universe to get involved in the larger community. I love that VolunteerMatch works so hard to make this easier for millions of people, both in the larger public and through the support of corporate employee volunteering programs. Having just joined the team in October of 2013, I feel like I’m still soaking up the warm welcome of a really great group of people, and learning every day!
3. What is the most inspiring part of your job? What’s your favorite part?
I look at hundreds of mission-based organizations a week, and it’s amazing to see the different things people are doing to serve their communities and the world. From the huge international nonprofits that continue to spread their reach and fight issues like poverty on a large scale, to the guy who suffered a tragedy in his family and decided to start spreading awareness to protect others from a similar fate, it’s just awesome to be constantly reminded of the good in people. And I love being able to help with even a small part of what they’re doing.
4. If you were to start a foundation or a nonprofit, what would its mission be?
There’s a lot to be said for helping existing organizations broaden their impact rather than reinventing the wheel. If you feel strongly about a cause, chances are there is already an established organization out there that could use your energy and expertise to strengthen their operations and reach more lives. That said, if I were to start a nonprofit or foundation, I would focus on rights and access to education for women and girls in poverty. Improvement in these areas has the potential to change so many other problems plaguing our planet. I’m a long-time volunteer with 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing center for kids, and I like thinking about how that model could be translated to other parts of the world.
5. Where will the Corporate Social Responsiblity (CSR) industry be in 5 years?
I think we’ll see the public and private sectors collaborating more closely on finding sustainable solutions to big problems. Established CSR programs will be a given, and corporations will get more creative about who they’re working with and whether they’re creating real change. Consumers will be even more informed and discerning, and the market won’t allow companies to ignore their social impact. I like to think that companies interviewing potential new hires will get asked, at every interview, “How does your company give back? How can I expect to be involved in that?” That this will be seen as an important measure of a company’s strength, a point of pride, rather than just a question of employee benefits.
6. Tell us a story (or two) about something that happened in your work that you consider to be a success, something that you’re proud of, and explain why.
I’m proud of the timely service we provide our users on a regular basis. I like to look at it as dozens of little successes every day when we’re able to resolve issues, offer personalized support, and represent VolunteerMatch with a friendly voice.
This hit close to home for me when my dad entered retirement a few months ago and started serving on the board of a community garden called Fertile Groundworks. They needed volunteers, so I helped him find an existing VolunteerMatch account for the garden, access and update their profile, and post new volunteer opportunities (including my favorite, Squashing Bugs, great for kids!). Within weeks they had some awesome volunteers getting their hands dirty in the garden, including one who actually works for one of our corporate partners, Charles Schwab, and found the opportunity as part of their employee volunteer program! It was fun to see the impact of what we do on a more up-close and personal scale.
Want to learn more about how Shannon and VolunteerMatch help companies engage employees in volunteering? Get in touch!