CSR Food For Thought: Which CSR Awards Really Matter?

VolunteerMatch's CSR Food for Thought SeriesThe CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

Breaking into the World of Corporate Citizenship Ratings and Rankings
The world of CSR awards, ratings and rankings is vast. And because of its multi-dimensional nature, it’s also pretty complex. Unsure where your company should focus its energy when it comes to these ratings? This post from Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has the answer. It also explores the most important considerations when breaking into this vast world.

Morgan Stanley Employees Contribute Over 8,000 Hours to Strategy Development for Nine Nonprofit Organizations
Morgan Stanley doesn’t just encourage their employees to volunteer. They challenge them. Their U.S. Strategy Challenge pairs some of the company’s best workers with nonprofits in need of strategic business advice. This year, they logged over 8,000 hours, with some impressive results. Check out this release from CSRwire to get the details on this shining example of pro bono done right.

Five Tips On Becoming a Successful Social Entrepreneur
What do successful socially-minded businesses have in common? In this post from Entrepreneur, get tips from 550 entrepreneurs on how they reached their success. My favorite piece of advice? “Aim to have impact in each layer of business activity.”

Webinar: Changing Corporate Perspectives in Workplace Giving Programs
Why are we surprised when our nonprofit partnerships are going well? Shouldn’t this be the norm? This Thursday June 11th, Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis of Realized Worth will talk about how the norm is changing. Join this free webinar to learn how your company can embrace these changes and create strong, impactful nonprofit partnerships.

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

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

Upcoming Webinar: Changing Corporate Perspectives – Workplace Volunteer Programs

Changing Corporate Perspectives on Employee VolunteeringAre you eager to start a Workplace Volunteer Program, but wonder how you’ll get the rest of your company on board?

Luckily, the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is changing, and it’s becoming an easier sell to do good. Not only are nonprofit organizations becoming more savvy corporate partners, but companies are beginning to see a shared purpose in volunteer partnerships.

In this month’s Best Practice Network (BPN) Webinar, we’ll hear from Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, co-founders of Realized Worth. Their years of experience in the corporate volunteerism field will lend to their discussion of the trends and challenges they’re seeing, recommendations on how to inspire employees to volunteer, and the corporation’s role in a higher calling. Their stories will energize you to launch the perfect workplace volunteer program for your company.

Reserve your complimentary spot today.
Thursday June 11, 2015
11pm – 11:45pm PT (2pm – 2:45pm ET)

Find content like this and more in VolunteerMatch’s new book Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, out now! Parker and Jarvis are just 2 of the 35 volunteer engagement experts sharing their knowledge on what’s next. Details and purchase information here

CSR Food For Thought: From Transactional to Transformative

VolunteerMatch's CSR Food for Thought SeriesThe CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

Time to Rethink Your Approach to Employee Giving
Transactional employee volunteering is nice. Transformative employee volunteering is, well, transformational. This post from America’s Charities explains how to take your employee volunteering to a new level of engagement, complete with video from corporate volunteering expert Chris Jarvis of Realized Worth. (Oh, and if you want to hear more from Chris Jarvis, sign up for our upcoming free webinar.)

Walmart Adopts Groundbreaking Animal Welfare Policy
When their customers spoke, Walmart listened. After a campaign against Walmart’s practices of obtaining its meat from less-than-reputable sources, Walmart responded with a comprehensive new policy that affects every stage of its supply chain. Get the details of this “groundbreaking” policy in this Triple Pundit article. And join me in applauding Walmart for this big step forward.

Excerpt From Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World
In this post, New Global Citizen offers an excerpt from our favorite new book on the future of volunteerism. What’s this excerpt about? The current state of pro bono volunteerism, with a look at how IBM saw incredible benefits from engaging employees in this form of volunteerism.

How Volunteering Will Lift Your Firm’s Performance
We all know how corporate volunteerism increases employee retention, employee engagement, and company image. But what about the soft skills? This post from Chartered Management Institute (written by FedEx Express’ UK Human Resources Manager)  looks at the often-overlooked benefits of employee volunteerism.

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

How VolunteerMatch Volunteers: The Power of Teams

The VolunteerMatch Team at Baker Beach

My VolunteerMatch volunteer team at Baker Beach

At VolunteerMatch, we work full-time on volunteerism. But we also like to get out of the office and volunteer ourselves!

That’s why we’ve split up our staff into small volunteer teams, each led by a team captain.

Mainly, this is for encouragement. We want our staff to feel like they’re supported in their volunteer efforts. A team gives them a place to go to share what they’re working on, generates suggestions from coworkers for new volunteer opportunities, and builds momentum for volunteerism within our organization.

Recently, the volunteer team I lead volunteered at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC). It’s one of my personal favorite organizations to volunteer with in the Bay Area. The staff are incredibly friendly and organized, and I feel great giving back to a place that allows millions of San Franciscans to enjoy its services every year.

Another reason why I love volunteering with the GGNPC is their amazing group volunteering activities. With summer coming, I was looking for a volunteer project that would get me and my coworkers outside for the afternoon. I emailed GGNPC letting them know the size of my group and the dates we were available. They quickly put together a project plan for us with directions to the project site, details on what we would be doing and some information on the impact we would be making to their organization.

Our group arrived at a wooded area next to Baker Beach with a warm welcome from the GGNPC staff. They told us some amazing facts about the area (such as, San Francisco used to get its water from a stream running into Baker Beach) and the types of plants we would be seeing during the day. They instructed us on how to pull weeds and plant flowers correctly, along with how to most efficiently use each of the gardening tools.

After three hours of work, our team had worked so diligently that the GGNPC team rewarded us with a guided Nature Walk. Taking us through the woods, they showed us how volunteers like us make a difference in the natural habitat. Without our weeding and gardening, the beautiful California poppies wouldn’t be able to survive! Our nature hike ended at Baker Beach where we were rewarded with a spectacular view.

I encourage anyone – companies, organizations/ clubs, families, groups of friends – to seek out opportunities such as this.  Group volunteering is a great way to get people out of their chairs and interacting with one another. (And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, check out the GGNPC!)

CSR Food For Thought: Mandatory Corporate Volunteering?

VolunteerMatch's CSR Food for Thought SeriesThe CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

Should the Government Mandate Corporate Volunteering?
In the United Kingdom, it’s now mandatory for all companies to offer at least three days of paid VTO (volunteer time off). This Realized Worth post explores the common reactions to this mandate, and ponders whether or not this will have an effect on the U.K.’s volunteer rates.

Nominate a Company for Best Corporate Steward Award Today!
For 16 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been recognizing companies that go above and beyond as corporate stewards. Finalists are chosen in eight categories based on nominations from the public. But act quickly – the deadline to submit a nomination is May 29th.

Every Sustainability Acronym, Explained
Lost in BSRs, CSRs, CDPs and SRIs? This post from Triple Pundit has you covered. They’ve compiled a long list of acronyms and abbreviations associated with sustainability to help you navigate your way through this ever-changing, and ever-abbreviating, field.

Three Ways to Engage Employees in Environmentalism
We all know that going green is more than recycling bins in the break room and carpooling to the office. So, what are some “evergreen” strategies your company can use to create real and lasting change? This Huffington Post blog post gives three suggestions, along with examples of how they worked for the company AMD.

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

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.