How a Corporate-Nonprofit Partnership Created Something Amazing

How a Corporate-Nonprofit partnership between VolunteerMatch and UnitedHealth Group created the amazing MobileMatch product.In my role at VolunteerMatch I see a lot of partnerships – between corporations, nonprofits, schools, government agencies, departments, teams and individuals. I truly believe that as we all try to solve the world’s biggest challenges, it is only through true partnerships that we make progress.

At VolunteerMatch we partner with companies in many different ways: to scale employee engagement, build actionable cause marketing and inspire volunteering and social impact. I am particularly proud of the partnership we’ve developed with UnitedHealth Group – they are collaborative, innovative and bold in their vision for VolunteerMatch’s future and how to partner with us to keep expanding it. The most recent realization of this partnership is MobileMatch.

Developing MobileMatch was a great opportunity to turn VolunteerMatch’s corporate sites into a mobile-friendly tool to further our goal of making volunteer engagement easy, manageable and accessible. At the same time, it aligned with UnitedHealth Group’s desire to involve more employees in volunteering across the U.S.

UnitedHealth Group employees are an impressively engaged bunch, and one of the reasons for this success is that the folks responsible for CSR and employee volunteering are always looking for ways to do it even better. Based on feedback from their employees, UnitedHealth Group decided to investigate creating a mobile app or dedicated site so that users can quickly and easily add volunteer hours.

VolunteerMatch and UnitedHealth Group worked together to scope the project, and over the course of a year developed a powerful tool designed to make volunteering accessible anytime, anywhere. MobileMatch allows corporate volunteers to search, signup and track hours whether they’re in the office, working remotely, onsite at a volunteer project or commuting to work.

As Kate Rubin, Vice President of Social Responsibility at UnitedHealth Group says, the partnership enabled both VolunteerMatch and UnitedHealth Group to achieve more than if they had embarked on the project alone. “We are always looking for ways to innovate and broaden the appeal of our volunteer program,” Kate said. “Technology and innovation go hand-in-hand, and innovation is one of our company’s five core values. An added plus is that the partnership increased the scope of what we were able to accomplish, not just for our employees, but for corporate volunteer programs across the country.”

Indeed, UnitedHealth Group’s contribution and support of the MobileMatch project ensured its availability for any VolunteerMatch client who wishes to make volunteer engagement easier and more convenient for its employees.

And according to what we’ve heard so far, things are going really well. Kate shared some reactions from UnitedHealth Group employees to the tool:

“Thanks for making this easier to access through my mobile device.”

“Love the mobility factor. This alone should allow employees an easy way to enter their volunteer hours into the system.”

“I do a lot of volunteering and think this app will help me keep more up-to-date with my hours. The app is easy to use and very functional.”

“This will make adding hours a lot easier! I love it!”

Of course, VolunteerMatch loves it, too! We also love that this partnership not only enabled us to create an entirely unique, transformational tool for employee engagement, it also strengthened our relationship with one of our favorite and most engaged clients.

We can’t wait to see the impact MobileMatch will have on more volunteers, our corporate clients and our mission!

Click here to learn more about MobileMatch and how your company can engage your employees successfully with VolunteerMatch Solutions.

(Photo by manuelsvay on Flickr.)

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MLK Day of Service: Creating a Blueprint for Employee Volunteer Program Success

You want to get your employees more involved in the volunteer opportunities available to them through your nonprofit partners. But you keep running into obstacles: a lack of motivation, time, or participation.

How do you solve these issues and successfully engage both the nonprofit and your employees?

We asked questions like this on Monday, January 20th, the National Day of Service commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Volunteering came to VolunteerMatch when twenty New Sector fellows lent their time to help create a strategy to better engage volunteers, nonprofits, and business leaders in the new year.

But before we answer the question of employee volunteer engagement, what is New Sector?

At the heart of New Sector Alliance’s mission is empowering young leaders while strengthening the social sector. Partnered with Americorps, New Sector’s Residency in Social Enterprise (RISE) fellowship program allows 25 talented individuals to hold full-time positions at nonprofits of their interest. The fellows also meet as a group to learn how to professionally apply their unique skills to address social dilemmas. This Service Day event at VolunteerMatch was an example of the diverse activities that the young leaders get to experience for the duration of their fellowships.

So how can this Service Day event serve as inspiration for leading your successful Employee Volunteer Program (EVP)?

Identify Your Needs 

The idea to invite twenty New Sector fellows for a Day of Service arose from VolunteerMatch’s need to design a strategy to engage skilled volunteers in 2014. Unlike past Service Days spent going out into the community to serve, we decided to take an innovative approach and bring volunteering to us. By gaining the perspectives of talented young leaders, we spent the holiday refining our strategy in order to better execute our goals in the new year.

Listen to the Nonprofit’s Needs

Maintaining a dialogue with the nonprofit at which your employees will be volunteering is crucial. By understanding what the nonprofit seeks to accomplish, you can align your employees’ skills and unique qualities with appropriate volunteer roles that will benefit both parties. Your employees will be motivated to serve because of their interest in the volunteer work, and the success of the event will reflect highly on your leadership.

While the Service Day event was designed for tackling future goals, it was a great model for the benefits of listening to a nonprofit’s needs. With New Sector seeking a professional environment for its fellows, VolunteerMatch was able to provide a hands-on experience addressing the need to get people to volunteer.

The participating VolunteerMatch staff members were able to facilitate discussion groups relevant to their specific departments: big picture engagement, global expansion, technology, and marketing. The event thus exemplified the rewards of employee volunteering, where the VolunteerMatch team members were provided fresh insight into improving their strategy to engage skilled volunteers.

Fill Those Needs with an Event

With so much to be learned from an event like this, why not try it yourself? Invite a nonprofit to the office and with your employees create a strategy to better engage with that nonprofit. Not only will your employees be exploring skills that can be applied to their actual work, but you will create a stronger and more personable relationship with that nonprofit.

Held a similar successful event with a nonprofit? Have additional ideas to engage employees in volunteering? Please share your thoughts and comments below!

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Webinar Recap: The Overhead Myth and the Role Businesses Can Play in Fixing Nonprofit Funding

The way your company gives its philanthropy money matters. Learn about the Overhead Myth.As a socially responsible business, you already know that your company and its philanthropic efforts do not exist in a vacuum. And while you might do a great job supporting your nonprofit partners both financially and with your employees’ time, most nonprofit organizations have at one point fallen victim to the Overhead Myth.

The Overhead Myth is a misconception that spending money on administrative and fundraising costs is a bad thing. It’s been confusing donors and funders for too long about what matters when judging a nonprofit, and it is actively harming our ability to solve the world’s problems.

On Wednesday, October 16th VolunteerMatch hosted a special Nonprofit Insights webinar, “The Overhead Myth: What It Is, Why It Matters…and What Now?” Guest speakers Jacob Harold, president and CEO of Guidestar, and Ann Goggins Gregory, Senior Director of Knowledge at the Bridgespan Group, joined Greg Baldwin of VolunteerMatch to discuss the cultural values and past behavior of nonprofits, businesses and funders that have led to the current problem, and to answer the critical question of “What now?”

What the Overhead Myth is, why it exists, and how you and your community can take action to change things…for good.

Predictably, there just wasn’t enough time in the session to cover all of the critical information pertaining to this issue, and there certainly wasn’t enough time to answer all of the great questions asked by attendees. So below is a list of resources for you to learn more about what the Overhead Myth is, why it exists, and how you and your community can take action to change things…for good.

Explore resources and this webinar recap to help your nonprofit organization fight the Overhead Myth!A special message from Ann Goggins Gregory for Bay Area-based participants: We’ve seen a keen desire for more in-person conversation about how to break out of the Overhead Myth. If you are interested in participating in in-formal meet-ups on this topic—facilitated by Ann and her colleagues at Bridgespan’s San Francisco office—we are very interested in hearing from you. Our intent would be to hear about and learn from what approaches you have tried, trouble-shoot together ways to break out of the myth, etc. If you are interested, please reach out to Ann directly at

We hope you’ll explore these resources and use them to engage your community, employees and leaders in ending the Overhead Myth.

Is your company doing something to fight the Overhead Myth? Share it with us below!

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Upcoming Special Webinar: A 360-Degree View of Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships

This month VolunteerMatch presents a special joint edition of our Nonprofit Insights and Best Practice Network webinar series. We invite our nonprofit and corporate members to come together and learn from experts in building strong volunteer partnerships.

Join VolunteerMatch for a special joint webinar about corporate nonprofit partnerships.What are the key ingredients for a successful corporate-nonprofit volunteer partnership? How can nonprofits and businesses, no matter the size, industry or level of experience, create a strong relationship for employee volunteer programs?

This month VolunteerMatch is offering a special joint edition of the Nonprofit Insights and Best Practice Network webinar series, as we welcome three experts in corporate-nonprofit partnerships to tackle these questions from multiple perspectives: Nonprofit consultant Mazarine Treyz will represent the small nonprofit viewpoint, Desiree Adaway of The Adaway Group will provide the voice of large organizations, and Amanda Lenaghan from the Charles Schwab Foundation will present the corporate angle.

A 360-Degree View of Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
11am – 12pm PT (2-3pm ET)

Follow the conversation on Twitter @VM_Solutions#VMbpn.

Whether you work at a nonprofit or a corporation, this webinar will teach you the critical focus areas for partnering across sectors to create fulfilling, engaging and high-impact employee volunteer programs.

About Our Speakers:

Amanda Lenaghan is Manager of the Charles Schwab FoundationAmanda Lenaghan has a deep passion for connecting people with opportunities to use their talent to make an impact. As Manager of the Charles Schwab Foundation, Amanda leads the employee volunteer strategy and is responsible for engaging Schwab’s 13,000 employees in service. Amanda has nearly a decade of experience in volunteerism, philanthropy, and nonprofit management.

Prior to Schwab, she served as Deputy Director of Taproot Foundation, the nation’s leader in pro bono service. There she led their award winning Service Grant program in the Bay Area and advised corporations on effectively engaging their employees and clients in service. Amanda’s background also includes managing nonprofit fundraising campaigns totaling $10 million, leading community development programs in Ecuador, and competing as a varsity track athlete at Georgetown University.

Desiree Adaway has over 20 years experience creating, leading and managing international, multicultural teams through major organizational changes in over 40 countries.Desiree Adaway has over 20 years experience creating, leading and managing international, multicultural teams through major organizational changes in over 40 countries. Her deep level of expertise in fundraising, grant management, and environmental, social justice, and faith-based initiatives, allows her to offer specific insights that help organizations achieve consistent, quality program results at the chapter, national, and international levels.

Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising and other popular, well-reviewed books on nonprofit fundraising.Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, called one of the Top 10 books of 2010 by Beth Kanter, author of the Networked Nonprofit. Her second book is The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media, published 2012, given a 5 star rating by Joanne Fritz, editor, Her latest book, Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, was published April 2013. Ms. Treyz has raised over $1M for small, national and international nonprofit organizations via grants, events, appeals and more.

Register for this free webinar now.

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Get a New Perspective on Pro Bono

Join a special webinar about building and managing pro bono projectsDoes your company have a pro bono volunteer program? Curious how to best manage one? We’re running a free webinar for our nonprofit audience that will shed some light on these issues for you.

While our Nonprofit Insights webinar series is mainly geared towards nonprofits, this month’s installment is also great for companies.

Becoming an Organization Powered by Pro Bono

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
11am – 12pm PT (2-3pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch and #vmlearn.

In the February edition of the Nonprofit Insights webinar series, Aaron Hurst, President & Founder of Taproot Foundation, and Megan Kashner, Founder & CEO of Benevolent, will walk us through the steps necessary for nonprofits to embrace and manage pro bono projects.

Attend this webinar to get a peek into the challenges nonprofits face when working with pro bono volunteers, and how your company could work with organizations to form strong and impactful partnerships.

About Our Speakers:

Aaron Hurst (@aaron_hurst) is a globally recognized social innovator and leading architect of the growing pro bono services movement. He is known throughout Taproot offices for his striped socks, Post-it® doodling, and endless supply of bold ideas.

Aaron’s career is dedicated to challenging and empowering the public and private sectors as well as individuals and organizations to drive our collective social, environmental and economic progress. He is the founder of the Taproot Foundation—a nonprofit organization building a national pro bono marketplace and leading the global service movement—and is a creative force behind the conception of the national Billion + Change initiative and the Service Enterprise model.

A member of the Nonprofit Times Power and Influence Top 50, Aaron is widely known for his thought- leadership in civic engagement, nonprofit management and corporate social responsibility. He is a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Megan Kashner, Founder & CEO, BenevolentMegan Kashner is Benevolent’s founder, CEO, tea-kettle refiller, blogger and overall chatterer. A seasoned nonprofit leader with over 20 years of strategic management, community partnership building and organizational planning.

Megan has spent her career leading organizations and programs dedicated to bringing innovation to the nonprofit sector and to improving social service support for women and families living in poverty and at risk. She has served as an Executive Director for the Taproot Foundation and earlier for the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Chief Development Officer for Chicago’s Deborah’s Place and Program Director for organizations including the Howard Area Community Center, Methodist Youth Services and the Heartland Alliance.

Click here to register for the webinar.

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The New Philanthrotech: 4 Ways Tech Innovators Can Partner with Nonprofits

This post originally appeared on Groupon Grassroots as part of the Philanthrotech series.

How tech innovators can partner with nonprofitsWe at VolunteerMatch launched our popular web service back in 1998 as the first online marketplace for volunteering, and today more than 90,000 nonprofits use VolunteerMatch to find great volunteers. Since launching, we’ve expanded our services to help companies, start-ups, and campuses change the world.

As the communications lead at VolunteerMatch, talking with tech innovators about their plans for inspiring social change is one of the best parts of my job. These folks want to create new platforms and marketplaces for doing good, transform mundane web activities such as clicking and browsing into doing good, and tell stories about all the other good that’s going on in the world.

There’s usually one piece of advice that I give these innovators as soon as I’ve heard about their ideas: work together with an existing nonprofit organization! It surprises me how often emerging tech innovators overlook this one. Nonprofits often have the resources, networks, and know-how to address real problems on a local level. Most importantly, nonprofit organizations are more adept at converting time and money into social impact than any other institution.

So why are nonprofits often overlooked? A lot of innovative companies simply aren’t familiar with some of the most common ways to work with nonprofits or how to integrate their business models with nonprofit and community needs.

Here are a few ways that for-profit innovators can team up with nonprofits to work for good:

Give and Go – This one is simple: just donate a portion of your proceeds to a worthy nonprofit or group of nonprofits that support a cause you care about. The most successful companies in America— both large and small—do this.

Do It Pro Bono – Each year thousands of tech innovators volunteer their time and talent to create projects for nonprofits, which is a big reason why “pro bono” volunteering has become a $15 billion-a-year venture in the United States.

Pitch a Project to a Nonprofit – Many of the tech innovators I meet have great ideas for effecting social change but no real business model. These folks should consider pitching their concepts to nonprofits that are experienced with similar types of projects and may be able to find funding for them.

Solve Sector-Wide Problems – Tech innovators can magnify the good they do by helping to solve the sector-wide challenges that most nonprofits face. This might include making it easier for organizations to meet new supporters, manage donor relationships, run their programs more efficiently, or raise more money.

There are many more ways for tech companies to work with nonprofits and still more that haven’t been thought of yet. Keep checking the Philanthrotech series here on the Grassroots blog for more on the intersection of causes and tech.

Philanthrotech from Groupon Grassroots

Want to learn more about using tech to effect social change? At SXSW Interactive, come hang out with the fun do-gooding geeks in The Beacon: Lounge with a Conscience presented by Beaconfire. You can also follow us on Twitter (@beaconfire) or visit for updates.

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JetBlue and KABOOM! Build a Playground – and So Much More

Guest post by Charlotte Payton

Icema Gibbs, Director of CSR for JetBlue, at the playground build in Oakland, Calif.

Icema Gibbs, Director of CSR for JetBlue, at the playground build in Oakland, Calif.

A few months ago, children at the Community School for Creative Education in Oakland, Calif. designed their dream playground. On Saturday, August 18th, their dream became a reality thanks to JetBlue, KaBOOM! and 250 volunteers.

This is the 15th playground JetBlue and KaBOOM! have built together. The project was so impressive that I asked Icema Gibbs, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for JetBlue and Meredith Darche, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for KaBOOM! to share what makes their seven-year partnership so successful.

“We started by dating,” Gibbs quipped. “JetBlue was invited to participate in a build with another funding partner and we had a great experience that turned into a marriage.” She added that KaBOOM! didn’t ask for money up front. “They wanted our involvement.”

JetBlue seeks nonprofit partners that can provide volunteer opportunities for its crewmembers and customers and projects that have a lasting impact in the communities JetBlue serves. They also favor a nonprofit that has similar brand values – KaBOOM! and JetBlue align on fun, passion, and safety.

Darche says what sets JetBlue apart as a national partner is that it brings all of its resources to the table. JetBlue not only provides a significant financial contribution, but has brought in more than 3,000 volunteers so far (employees and customers). It also helps with logistics and planning, travel vouchers, thought leadership, JetBlue swag, public relations efforts, and JetBlue even helps provide food for the events.

As partners, JetBlue and KaBOOM! create positive volunteer experiences with good food, fun music and well-organized activities. During the build, volunteers are divided into teams. A team leader provides direction and answers questions so that no volunteer is left wondering what to do next.

JetBlue encourages customers to come out and do something fun that is also good for the community. If customers participate because JetBlue inspired them, that inevitably helps JetBlue’s brand and supports its business. Dozens of TrueBlue (JetBlue’s loyalty program) members participated in the Oakland project. And more than one Community School parent remarked that they will now choose to fly JetBlue because of this build.

Gibbs and Darche both agree that listening to your partner is the most important part of building a successful long-term relationship. KaBOOM! employees listened closely to JetBlue’s specific interests so that they could facilitate the best possible program.

Additionally, Gibbs recommends that other CSR leaders express a genuine interest in the cause and try to understand how the nonprofit organization works. She also suggests an inclusive strategy, not a top-down approach.

For example, JetBlue provides opportunities for customers and staff to provide input. In February, JetBlue customers were asked to choose the location for this project by voting on Facebook. “You want the passion to be contagious,” says Gibbs. “The only way to do that is to listen.”

JetBlue has committed to building 3 more playgrounds with KaBOOM! through 2013, but together they are building more than playgrounds. They are building up a neighborhood. The Community School now has a new network of supporters who will help the community thrive, and the children of Oakland now have the opportunity to play in a safe environment.

Charlotte Payton is a corporate philanthropy and cause marketing consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Charlotte has eight years of experience helping Bay Area companies and nonprofits do more good by coming together.

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