Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Deirdre White & Amanda MacArthur, PYXERA Global

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement.

In post, get to know two of the #35experts (along with their expertise): Deirdre White, CEO, and Amanda MacArthur, VP of Global Pro Bono & Engagement, PYXERA Global.

Corporate Volunteers

First of all, what is your chapter about?
Over the past few years, pro bono has grown across sectors. In order for it to be an effective resource, it’s important to understand why pro bono is different from traditional “hearts-and-hands” volunteering.

Hearts-and-hands volunteering is when people give back through non-job-related skills, such as serving at a food kitchen or cleaning a park. With traditional volunteering, quantity over quality is usually okay.

With pro bono, quality is more critical. Pro bono asks volunteers to use job-related expertise to build capacity at an organization, and is grounded in a mutually beneficial experience for the volunteer and organization. Our chapter explains how recognizing the mutual benefits of pro bono can help a nonprofit get the expertise it needs.

Why is this topic important?
In order for pro bono to work, there needs to be an exchange of resources – a skill or expertise the volunteer can contribute along with a matching need for the nonprofit. To succeed, both need to develop trust.

Corporate pro bono programs can be very powerful. According to a study on skills-based volunteerism by True Impact, 142% of volunteers were more likely to report job-related skills gained than traditional volunteers. In addition, pro bono can be a very successful leadership training experience.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)

Deirdre White, Contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldDeirdre White: I serve as the CEO of PYXERA Global, where I lead a team that creates and executes best practices in Global Pro Bono to benefit global corporations, local government, and nonprofits worldwide. PYXERA Global recently received the CECP Director Award of Excellence for JIVA, an integrated community development program made possible by pro bono work. I have several decades working on the ground, virtually, and overseeing pro bono projects with an emphasis on mutual benefit, sustainability, and inclusion.

Amanda MacArthur, Contributor to VolunteerMatch's book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldAmanda MacArthur: I am Vice President of Global Pro Bono and Engagement at PYXERA Global. I lead the Global Pro Bono team along with PYXERA Global’s MBAs Without Borders division. I specialize in designing, implementing and measuring the impact of skills-based volunteer programs with a focus on leadership development, as well as creating sustainable impact.

What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
At times, it can be difficult to determine how our extensive work in international settings is applicable to US nonprofits. We reflected on how to take our process of designing and implementing programs for companies and local clients, and make it applicable for nonprofits not working within the framework of a larger pro bono program – who might be looking for pro bono expertise independently.

We thought about the way PYXERA Global acts as a neutral third party to assess an organization’s needs and how to customize that to help nonprofits do this for themselves. We also had an absolutely wonderful editor, Robert Rosenthal, who helped us clarify our thinking and approach in these areas.

What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Always practice purposeful engagement. In other words, enter into relationships with individuals and organizations across sectors intentionally and with the understanding that you are both on equal footing. When looking for pro bono volunteers, be strategic and don’t compromise. Know what you have to give, but also know what success will look like.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Deirdre and Amanda’s full chapter, How to Get the Right Pro Bono Expertise for the Job, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.




Volunteering and the Future of Cause Marketing

Guest post by Joe Waters, Selfish Giving

This post was originally published on the Selfish Giving blog.

Joe Waters, contributor to VolunteerMatch's new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldI’m excited to be one of the 35 experts in VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World.

I was surprised when VolunteerMatch asked me to contribute a chapter. I just didn’t view cause marketing as connected to volunteering – and I thought the book’s editor, Robert Rosenthal, and I agreed on this point!

You see, Robert was the guy who dissuaded me from including volunteering in my last book on nonprofit fundraising, Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New & Improved Strategies for Nonprofits.

I had considered several volunteer-related strategies for the book, but in the end I only included one: volunteer grants, also known as dollars for doers programs, which match a corporate volunteer’s time with a small grant from the company to the nonprofit.

So, why would I now write a chapter on cause marketing for a book on volunteering? Because Robert actually had a much better grasp of what volunteering is and where it’s headed than I did. Although he was right to nix volunteering from a book on fundraising tactics, he was also right that volunteering would have a major impact on cause marketing. Robert challenged me to adjust my perspective on the connection between volunteering and cause marketing.

A major hurdle for me was realizing that volunteering was more than just those little old ladies who used to stuff envelopes at my last nonprofit job.

No, volunteering is so much more.

Volunteering is when a person freely chooses to spend his or her time – unpaid – supporting a needy group or individual. A volunteer’s goal is to have a meaningful, measurable impact.

Using my new lens on volunteering, I peered out and discovered something incredible: Volunteering isn’t just connected to cause marketing; it’s the future of cause marketing. As focused as I was on defining cause marketing as a partnership between a nonprofit and for profit, I neglected the spark that makes these pacts ignite: individuals. These motivated and empowered do-gooders will be the key drivers of growth over the next generation.

You can read all about it in Volunteer Engagement 2.0!

Along with my chapter, you can read the contributions of 34 other volunteering experts.

  • Beth Kanter explains Measuring the Volunteer Program.
  • Aria Finger talks about Engaging Millennials and other Younger Volunteers.
  • Amy Sample Ward writes about Volunteer Engagement on the Social Web.
  • Scott Henderson talks about Getting the Most Out of Hackathons for Social Good.
  • Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis write on Partnering with Workplace Volunteer Programs.

This book has everything. An awesome, relevant topic, a great editor, a wonderful group of contributors and a chapter from yours truly!

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Joe’s full chapter, Volunteering and Future of Cause Marketing, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.




Answering the Eternal Question of Return on Investment

Guest post by Brian Kurth

The Return on Investment of Corporate Giving“What’s the return on investment?”

This question is asked over and over again, and requires an answer from anyone proposing a social innovation initiative. They must answer it early, and they must answer it often.

When a company provides financial or in-kind support to a nonprofit organization, they’re seeking some type of return on investment — typically social good.

This sounds reasonable, but efforts to measure ROI in the social sector often turn into a knotted jumble of outcomes, indicators and proxy measurements.

Let’s take a look at the philanthropic arm of a Seattle software company (name withheld for the time being – until their beta roll out is complete.) In addition to quantifying the value and impact of its giving, they are going out of their way to ensure its grantees realize the full value of their financial and in-kind gifts.

Using a private-labeled, online engagement platform offered by Pivot Planet Inc., the company is connecting its in-house experts directly with its foundation grantees. Through this holy trinity of cash, product and technical assistance, the company is helping grantees overcome potentially fatal implementation challenges, as well as accepting more responsibility for the outcomes of its own philanthropy. On top of this, it also increases employee interest, investment and engagement in these social good projects.

While the partnership is still underway, I fully expect the value chain to flow both ways. Like most successful partnerships, the learning will be mutual. Not only will grantees learn how to derive maximum value from the company’s software, the company will gain first-hand knowledge of the myriad challenges nonprofit organizations face, which should inform future product offerings.

Next time you are asked how you are going to ensure ROI for a social innovation initiative, let your answer be “by building value” — brand value, value in your products and services, and value in the communities where you operate.

Brian Kurth is the founder of Pivot Planet Inc., a private-labeled, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that easily and efficiently connects internal knowledge seekers with internal and/or external subject-matter experts. He may be reached at brian@pivotplanet.com or 512.571.3777.

Photo credit: LendingMemo.com

Volunteer Engagement 2.0 Author Spotlight: Angela Parker & Chris Jarvis, Realized Worth

Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, contributors to Volunteer Engagement 2.0, VolunteerMatch's new book

VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement.

In post, get to know two of the #35experts (along with their expertise): Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, co-founders of Realized Worth.

First of all, what is your chapter about?
It’s about how corporations and nonprofits can more effectively work together to create employee volunteer programs that produce value for everyone involved. From trends and challenges in workplace giving and volunteering to practical steps for effective volunteering events, our chapter covers the basics of corporate/ nonprofit partnerships and how to do it better.

Why is this topic important?
In recent years, the phrase corporate social responsibility (CSR) has taken on increasing weight. In most corporate circles, the term now carries with it important implications. At the same time, many nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly savvy corporate partners. It is essential that the two learn to work together and create value that benefits society in a way that makes this increased effort by both parties worth the resources that are being invested.

Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you “volunteer engagement experts?”)
Angela co-founded Realized Worth with Chris Jarvis in 2008 to help corporations around the world develop workplace volunteer programs. Today, the company’s clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, AT&T, Abbott Labs, Ball Corporation, AstraZeneca, and others. Angela holds a Global MBA from IE Business School located in Madrid, Spain.

Chris spent more than two decades working with nonprofits ranging from urban centers in North America to informal settlements in Africa. Widely known for his thought leadership, Chris was asked by the United Nations Office of Partnerships to design and launch Impact2030, the first private sector-led initiative to achieve the post-millennial Sustainable Development Goals through corporate volunteering.

What did you learn and/or struggle with when writing your chapter?
It’s difficult to communicate years of research and experience into a short chapter so that people will understand the importance of applying it in daily practice. This is a game-changing field all of us are in, and it carries enormous potential to solve social and environmental problems through the collective power of individual men and women. We hope this book will take hold of people, and they will follow-up with authors to glean even more value.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
We would advise them to do what is necessary to maintain their own belief in what they’re doing. This is a high calling. Volunteering and giving is never just about stacking boxes, raising money, and collecting cans. These aren’t transactional moments where someone gives in order to get something. These are moments where individuals can become involved in their communities and real transformation can occur.

When we volunteer, we transform into better versions of ourselves. If companies and nonprofit organizations can work together to enable more people in the workplace to realize better versions of themselves, the world will, over time, become a better place, too.

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the WorldTo read Angela and Chris’ full chapter, Partnering with Workplace Volunteer Programsorder your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.



Corporate/ Nonprofit Partnerships Can Save the World (And We Can Help, Too)

worldWhile a big check is nice, it’s not going to cut it these days. Corporate social responsibility is NOT about how much money your company can give.

It requires planning. It requires creativity. Most importantly, it requires deliberate and strategic partnerships with nonprofits whose work aligns with your company’s mission.

(For more on why multi-faceted nonprofit partnerships are important, check out this webinar we hosted in December 2014 with CSR expert Susan McPherson.)

Because we know the importance of these partnerships, and because we know it can be daunting when you don’t know where to start, VolunteerMatch Solutions helps companies work better with nonprofits in three main ways.

VolunteerMatch Solutions’ Tools
VolunteerMatch partner companies have access to the web’s largest network of nonprofits seeking assistance: The VolunteerMatch Network. It includes nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the country (and increasingly, across the world). In seconds, your company and its employees can find volunteer opportunities that fit your specific corporate goals.

Building Corporate Nonprofit PartnershipsAnd once you find your nonprofit partners, it’s easy to feature them on your company’s custom volunteer site, making your partnerships prominently visible to all your employees. There’s many more ways to grow these partnerships through our tools, such as recruiting employee volunteers for a specific nonprofit’s event, or even sponsoring a nonprofit’s own custom VolunteerMatch site. To learn more about our corporate tools, watch our demo.

Growing Your Specific Initiatives
When simply searching for volunteer opportunities isn’t enough, we help you go above and beyond. For example, in 2014, we partnered with Walmart Foundation for their Fighting Hunger Together Initiative. Together, we trained more than 3,000 volunteer coordinators at hunger-fighting organizations to more effectively recruit and manage volunteers. We also created over $171 million in social value that continues to help Americans get the healthy food they need. Whatever your cause, we’ll work with you so you can have the most impact, where it matters most.

2015 VolunteerMatch Summit
We believe the world’s most pressing problems can best be solved through cross-sector collaboration. And what better setting to share resources, knowledge and passion for change than face-to-face? For-profit and nonprofit organizations don’t always get this opportunity, which is why we decided to create it.

For the past 13 years, VolunteerMatch has hosted a Summit for its corporate clients, offering a space for like-minded CSR professionals to gather and share ideas. This year, however, we are opening our Summit doors to non-client companies, as well as national nonprofits. Learn more about this one-of-a-kind event.

At VolunteerMatch, we know that corporate/ nonprofit partnerships are the key to real social change. Let’s all come together to make a difference.

All About Partnering with Nonprofits

All about partnering with nonprofitsOne great way to enrich your employee volunteer program and get your employees more engaged is to partner directly with a nonprofit organization.

Forming a close, long-term relationship with an organization gives your employees the opportunity to really get to know the cause, and find more ways to give their time and skills to help.


Here’s a round-up of articles and resources from VolunteerMatch about how your company can partner with nonprofits:

Why VolunteerMatch is Like the Golden Gate Bridge

How are companies and nonprofits connected through the VolunteerMatch network? This unique model ensures that everyone – individual, employee, organization, or company – has the opportunity to make a difference.

How a Corporate-Nonprofit Partnership Created Something Amazing

See the possibilities of working with nonprofits realized: The story of VolunteerMatch’s partnership with UnitedHealth Group, and how we created something together that will benefit the rest of the world…

The Overhead Myth and the Role Business Can Play in Fixing Nonprofit Funding

Don’t fall victim to the dreaded Overhead Myth! Work with your nonprofit partners to overcome the prejudices and support nonprofits in a way that will impact their communities and your own business.

A 360-Degree View of 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? Get the answers to these questions and more in this recorded webinar.

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

New tech companies often have a lot of energy, passion and resources to put towards making a difference. Why reinvent the wheel? By partnering with existing nonprofit organizations who already know the needs and lay of the land, more can be done to help more people, more successfully.

Employee Volunteer Solutions from VolunteerMatch

The Employee Engagement Platform from VolunteerMatch Solutions has easy-to-use functionality built right in that connects you and your employees to nonprofits in the community, and helps you manage and strengthen those relationships. Find out more and request a demo!

Why VolunteerMatch is Just like the Golden Gate Bridge

How the way VolunteerMatch works with companies and nonprofits is just like the Golden Gate Bridge.Here at VolunteerMatch, we see ourselves as being somewhat similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. Not just because we are based in San Francisco, but because of the types of relationships we build.

Explaining the Metaphor

For those of you who are unfamiliar with San Francisco, the Golden Gate connects two sides of the Bay Area. In keeping with this metaphor, let’s say that either side of the Bay represents two key VolunteerMatch audiences: nonprofit organizations and socially responsible businesses.

On one side of the “Bay” we have our network of nonprofits. We support them as they strive to recruit and manage volunteers. On the other side we see our corporate partners, companies just like yours. We encourage and guide you to create a more engaging employee volunteer program.

VolunteerMatch makes it easier for companies and nonprofits to connect and do good.With all the fog in San Francisco, it’s often hard to see what others are doing on the other side of the Bay. What everyone needs is something that will give them access to one another, while still supporting the particular needs of each side. In San Francisco, this is the Golden Gate Bridge. In the world of volunteer engagement, this is VolunteerMatch.

We use this metaphor to emphasize the unique position Volunteermatch holds for you and your nonprofit partners, and how we can help increase the connection between you. Much like the Bridge, we not only want to bring you together once, but we want to make it easy for you to form a strong and lasting relationship. We want to show both sides how much amazing work is happening and give you tips for working better together.

Strengthening the Bridge

This has already been happening for years via emails, webinars and blog posts, but recently we decided that we needed to do more. So we created Community Connection Day. These events will bring together nonprofits and corporations from the same geographic area to talk about what’s going on in their world of volunteer engagement – on both sides of the bridge.

At the end of February 2014, we had the first ever Community Connection Day in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks to Nationwide & Limited Brands, we held a beautiful, inspiring education day at the Columbus Foundation. In the morning, the groups split up into their respective tracks for training. After individual sessions, we came together for lunch and a panel discussion. We paired corporations with their strongest nonprofit partner and had them share their relationship with the group. We discussed best practices, what works for their collaboration and common barriers.

We found that Community Connection Day brought out insights on both sides. Participants commented that while training was helpful, the most rewarding part of the day was meeting other volunteer managers in their area and having the chance to discuss their programs, their struggles, and how they could help each other.

We were so thrilled with the reaction and results from the first Community Connection Day that we’ve decided to open the door to more!

If you want to find more ways to bridge the gap between your company’s employee engagement activities and the nonprofits in your area, let us know!