CSR Food for Thought: Do It Like Sir Richard

The CSR Food for Thought series is a weekly roundup of relevant news from around the Web, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Do it like Sir Richard. The gutsy, entrepreneurial approach to profit and purpose.

Today’s business world is characterized by big, bold risks. The weirder the innovation, the bolder the idea, the more investors seem to clamor to buy a piece of the pie. Yet, when it comes to charity and philanthropy (in the corporate sector, as well), we are schooled to NEVER take risks, to never step outside the tried and true comfort zones. How will we ever innovate? We can all learn some things from Richard Branson, who has been as bold – and as successful – in the cause-driven sides of his businesses as he has with the profit margins.

Cause marketing realignment forces evolution of strategies

Gone are the days when a company could buy into a pre-packaged, once-a-year cause campaign focused on a “sexy” issue like breast cancer or heart health, and call it a successful strategy. Companies are waking up to the need to align cause marketing with the promise of the company’s brand, and the relationship they have with consumers. This is impacting the way companies create partnerships with nonprofits, making these relationships longer, stronger and more strategic.

#NewMetrics ’14 Workshop Reveals Secrets to Effective Employee Engagement

Spoiler alert: The secrets to effective employee engagement start with recruiting employees that are more likely to care about the issues you focus on (like sustainability), and then creating an environment that encourages them to be proactive, innovate, and be recognized for their contributions. This recap from the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’14 event provides some specific strategies for doing this and increasing employee engagement and business success in the process.

Good Business

Speaking of cause marketing, a great cause marketing campaign can be a very successful marketing tactic for companies to reach and connect with consumers – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways in which companies and nonprofits can work together.  Bruce Burtch describes how building strong, lasting, strategic cross-sector partnerships can create disproportionately large benefits for the company, the cause, the community, and really the whole world. (Want to hear it from Bruce directly? Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, October 22nd!)

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What Makes ADT a Breakout Performer?

Congratulations to ADT for winning the Breakout Performance Corporate Volunteer Award!Before this year’s exciting VolunteerMatch Client Summit, you got the chance to meet some of the finalists for the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards. And then, you found out the winners.

Two award categories, however, are unique, in that they don’t have finalists – they are chosen by VolunteerMatch Client Relations Managers based on their experiences working directly with their corporate clients. These special categories are Breakout Performance and Champions of the Year.

This year, ADT was a favorite winner of the Breakout Performance Award. This award is given to a new VolunteerMatch client that has shown significant success for a newly launched program – and boy, does ADT fit the bill.

Alex Price, Community Relations Manager of ADT Corporation, accepts the Breakout Performance Award from VolunteerMatch Greg Baldwin at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Alex Price, Community Relations Manager of ADT Corporation, accepts the Breakout Performance Award from VolunteerMatch Greg Baldwin at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Launched in July 2013 with a pilot program focused in seven key regions, ADT developed a branded program with focus and flexibility, and produced trainings and materials that were easily scalable. During this pilot phase, over 30% of ADT’s eligible employees volunteered!

Then, to celebrate the company’s 140th anniversary in August, 2014, they expanded the program to over 200 locations. And in its first year, this program welcomed more than 14,000 unique visitors to their new VolunteerMatch site, and connected employee volunteers to more than 350 nonprofit organizations.

Core focus areas include Disaster Response and Public Safety, along with many walks and Habitat builds, but ADT employees are also encouraged to contribute as much as possible in any area, and to submit group project ideas via the Opportunity Builder feature on their VolunteerMatch site.

ADT as a company has thrown itself headfirst into the EVP world, participating in webinars and quickly learning best practices for communications, executive and middle manager support, events, and incentives, leading to one of the most impressive programs of the past year.

“ADT was so honored to be recognized with the 2014 ‘Breakout Performance of the Year’ award,” said Alex Price, Community Relations Manager of ADT Corporation. “What a wonderful way to cap off our companywide rollout of the ADT Always Cares program, and so motivating for me to expand it as we enter our second year.”

Big congratulations to Alex Price, ADT Corporation, and all your employees for winning Breakout Performance of the Year – and keep up the great work!

To learn more about the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards, click here.

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6 Transformational Companies Honored in a Transformational City

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit - setting for the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.Last week’s VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit was like no other conference any of us have ever attended…but more on that later. Today, we want to focus on one particular event during this year’s Client Summit: the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards.

In a city whose corporate sector is showing every day the impact that can be made by true community involvement, six socially responsible companies were honored for their commitments to their own communities – and to the engagement of their employees.

You’ve gotten to know some of the finalists over the past few months, and now we are thrilled to announce the winners.

For the third year in a row, Morgan Stanley and Old National Bank took top honors as Employee Volunteer Programs of the Year in the Large and Small-Medium Sized Business categories. Lilly and ADT were recognized for their outstanding first year of success in the VolunteerMatch network. And staff members from UnitedHealth Group and California State Library were acknowledged for being dedicated champions of employee and consumer volunteer engagement.

The winners of the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards are:

Morgan Stanley

Old National Bank


Jacquelyn Londo & Sue Osten – UnitedHealth Group
Carla Lehn – California State Library

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards! May you continue to be an inspiration to your employees, your communities, and the rest of us.

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How Ohio State Walks the Talk

This post was originally published on The Lantern.

Guest post by Alex Drummer

How Ohio State Walks the TalkAn out-of-body experience helped an Ohio State official develop one of the university’s newest initiatives.

OSU’s Office of Volunteer Relations was partially inspired after Andy Gurd, chief operating officer of the OSU Alumni Association, realized there was no official route for volunteering through OSU during a speech he gave at an alumni club event in New York, he said.

“As I’m speaking to the club, I almost had an out-of-body experience that I really hope that nobody raises their hand and says, ‘Hey Andy, how do I volunteer at Ohio State?’ because I really didn’t know the answer — and I work here,” he said.

The Office of Volunteer Relations connects OSU community members with volunteer opportunities either at or for the university.

And it seems as though OSU might be one of the first schools with a volunteer office.

While in the process of creating the office, the task force working on the project contacted between eight and 12 different peer universities and did not find any with similar programs, Gurd said.

“In fact, they all said ‘when you have that up and running, we really want to take a look at it,'” Gurd said.

Ohio State launches office to connect community with volunteer options, using the VolunteerMatch tools.

The office provides an online database of volunteer opportunities through a third-party website called VolunteerMatch. The first year and setup cost for the website was $28,000. The funds for this came out of the Alumni Association’s budget, said Michell Domke, director of the Office of Volunteer Relations.

It will cost $20,000 annually to continue to use the service, Domke said in an email.

The initial annual budget for the office is $200,000, but the Alumni Association will make changes to the budget as needed in order to ensure success, Domke said.

Gurd said buying into software that was already developed saved some time, and the office has still been able to customize the website to its needs, so it’s the “best of both worlds.”

The site went live on July 1, and 116 people had signed up for a volunteer opportunity as of Sept. 8, Domke said.

The volunteer opportunities on the site are divided into departments, such as the Fisher College of Business or Wexner Medical Center. There were 20 departments on the site as of Sept. 15. . Within them, there were 34 opportunities posted as of Sept. 8, Domke said.

Opportunities will continually be posted as they come up, and more departments are slated to be added as well, Domke said.

If someone is looking to volunteer, he or she can search for an opportunity on the website without having to sign in, but when the user identifies an opportunity and clicks to sign up for it, he or she will be redirected to sign up for an account, Domke said. After signing up, the user should receive an email confirmation, and then after the user has volunteered, the hope is that he or she will be thanked for their service — an advantage of the new system, Gurd said.

“Because we now have everything in a database, we can now understand who’s volunteering. We can say thank you to them, which in the past, I don’t know that always occurred,” Gurd said.

Another asset of the system is it allows users to sign up for what interests them, rather than the university guessing, Gurd said. “It really helps us understand what an individual is passionate about because many times in the past we looked up what school you graduated from and that’s what we sent you information on,” Gurd said.

As for the creation of the Office of Volunteer Relations, it took about a year and a half to do the research, get the committee together, gain approval and get funding in order to create the office, Gurd said.

Because student volunteers have already been extensively tapped into, the new office focuses on nonstudent volunteer opportunities, Domke said.

As for the inclusion of other members of the university community, like fans — instead of just alumni — Gurd said that it goes along with the spirit of begin an Ohioan, and nonaffiliates can sign up to volunteer too.

“We’re the Buckeyes, and this is the Buckeye State,” Gurd said.

Being a state school, OSU has a large fan base that might consist of people who, although did not graduate from OSU, want to become involved in the university, he said.

“For people who are passionate about Ohio State, who care about this university and the things we do, we want to provide an opportunity for them to be able to engage with the university as well, and we want strong relationships with them,” Gurd said.

The alumni are a special group themselves, he said, and the hope is that the system will not only help strengthen alumni and university relationships but also strengthen relationships among alumni, he said.

“One of the great things about it is when you volunteer, it’s cross-generational, so we can have brand new graduates volunteering with someone who graduated 50 years ago. I get chills talking about it,” Gurd said.

Huge, happy welcome to The Ohio State University and your community, new members of the VolunteerMatch network!

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Their Impact is Both Large and Diverse

Congratulations to all of the companies honored as finalists in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Awards.Being a part of something as powerful as the VolunteerMatch network means that you’ll often hear about the amazing things individuals, nonprofits and companies are doing to make a difference. Here’s a great example:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently named 24 business finalists for its 15th Annual Corporate Citizenship Awards. The awards program honors businesses for their significant positive impacts in communities around the world. And this year, a whole bunch of VolunteerMatch clients and partners are on the list of honored finalists.

  • Congratulations to UnitedHealth Group for being a finalist for Best Corporate Steward in the Large Business category.
  • Big kudos to Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft for the Best Commitment to Education Program award.
  • Amway’s impressive community work is being recognized as a finalist for Best Community Improvement Program.
  • Farmers Insurance Company, as well as our partner Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., are finalists for Best Disaster Response & Community Resilience Program.
  • Both Dow Chemical Company and Qualcomm are finalists for Best Economic Empowerment Program.
  • Great job Apollo Education Group for being a finalist for Best Environmental Stewardship Program.

“It’s great to see our clients honored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation,” says Julie VanDeLinder, VP of Client Services, VolunteerMatch. “While we already know our clients do great things in the community, it’s wonderful to see them in this elite group of Corporate Citizens.”

The winners in each category will be announced on November 20, 2014. But all of these companies are already winners, considering the huge impact they’ve made in their communities and for their employees in all of these different areas. (If you’d like to learn more about the over-achieving companies in the VolunteerMatch network, check out this series on the finalists for the 2014 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards.)

We’re proud of all of our corporate clients and partners! Congratulations, and keep up the great work.

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REinventing Giving & Engagement: A Keynote of a Different Color from Kiva and DonorsChoose.org

On September 18-19, 2014, VolunteerMatch will gather its corporate clients for a day and a half of learning, sharing and networking. The 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit will feature numerous sessions led by corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement thought leaders. In this series of posts, we’ll introduce you to each of the speakers and what they’ll discuss at the Summit.

Premal ShahName: Premal Shah

Title: President

Organization: Kiva



Charles BestName: Charles Best

Title: Founder & CEO

Organization: DonorsChoose.org



About the Session: “REinventing Giving & Engagement”

With our theme of “Transformation. Begin Again.” at the upcoming 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, there’s a lot that’s out of the ordinary – from the innovative programming, to the exciting location, to the impressive speakers and attendees. This year’s keynote address is going to bring everything to a whole new level.

Get ready for the most unique and interactive keynote session you’ve ever experienced – we’re flipping the traditional keynote on its head. We’re starting out with a surprise right at the start, and then two incredible leaders will discuss their experiences running organizations that have changed the way individuals make an impact.

Premal Shah of Kiva, and Charles Best of DonorsChoose.org, will have a conversation with one another about their approaches to transforming the giving sector. They will also share their advice for where corporate engagement could – and should- go in the future.

As we soak in the transformation happening every day in Detroit, Premal and Charles will put it all into context for us and highlight the importance of thinking differently to find new ways to create impact with our engagement programs.

Whether you’ll be attending the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in person, or just following along virtually, start thinking now about the questions you have for these two groundbreaking leaders, and how their stories can help you on your own road to transformation.

About Premal Shah

Premal first began dreaming of “internet microfinance” while working at PayPal, the online payments company. In late 2004, Premal took a 3 month leave from PayPal to develop and test the internet microfinance concept in India. When he returned to Silicon Valley, he met other like-minded dreamers and quit his job at PayPal to help bring the Kiva concept to life and eventually to scale. Kiva today raises over $1 million each week for the working poor in +60 countries and was named a Top 50 Website by TIME Magazine. For his work as a social entrepreneur, Premal was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and selected to FORTUNE magazine’s “Top 40 under 40″ list. Premal began his career as a management consultant and graduated from Stanford University.

About Charles Best

Charles Best leads DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that provides a simple way to address educational inequity. At DonorsChoose.org, public school teachers create classroom project requests and donors can pick the projects they want to support. Charles launched the organization in 2000 out of a Bronx public high school where he taught history. DonorsChoose.org is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “ultimate favorite things” and was named by Fast Company as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” the first time a charity has received this recognition. For three years, Fortune Magazine has named Charles to its “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”

Connect with Premal, Charles and DonorsChoose.org on Twitter, and check out Kiva’s website and their Kiva Zip program, as well as the DonorsChoose.org website.

Learn more about Premal, Charles and other speakers at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit by clicking here!

This year’s event is generously supported by: General Motors, MGM Resorts International, Delta Air Lines, The United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Newell Rubbermaid.

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