Meet Darcy Brown-Martin and Ebony Frelix, 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit Speakers

In December 2015, CSR professionals, employee engagement enthusiasts, VolunteerMatch clients, and national nonprofits will come together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit (#VMSummit15). In this series of blog posts, I’ll introduce you to the numerous experts who will make an appearance as Summit speakers.


Darcy Brown-Martin
National Director of Corporate Relations, Playworks


Ebony Frelix
Vice President of Programs, Salesforce Foundation








What is your session about?

CSR leaders and nonprofit staff alike are wrestling with the movement in corporate philanthropy to “go beyond the check.” CSR staff grapple with the need to create authentic impact through volunteerism without disrupting workplace priorities, while nonprofits that don’t rely directly on volunteers to fulfill their mission battle for funding in a corporate arena leaning hard on employee engagement. Learn how Salesforce and Playworks arrived at a replicable solution to this set of dilemmas, built on mission alignment on both sides.

Why should attendees care about this topic?

Darcy: Whether you’re on the for-profit or nonprofit side of the CSR equation, finding practical ways to repeatedly engage volunteers is key in building successful corporate partnerships in the current market. After this session, participants will be able to look at their organizational assets with fresh eyes. Respectively, they will be able to plan fiscally to support a robust corporate volunteer program or deploy existing program assets to secure corporate funding by helping corporations realize community impact through one‐off volunteer-group engagements.

Ebony: Gone are the days when corporate philanthropy was simply writing a check to a charity of choice at the end of the year. Today’s employees–and millennials in particular–expect a robust and integrated corporate citizenship program. Yet at the same time, CSR practitioners compete for attention, time and effort of employees. Hear about both top-down and bottom-up strategies that can drive impactful employee engagement.

What do you love about your work?

Darcy: Stewarding corporate partnerships for a national nonprofit allows me to engage in mission-driven work while continuously learning about the methods and cultures of significant for-profit companies. I love that blend.

Ebony: I love that every day when I go to work, I’m helping make a difference. Sometimes it’s in a big way, like our partnership with the San Francisco Middle Schools and the Mayor’s Office which, through $8+ million in grants and 5,000+ hours of Salesforce employee volunteering, is helping prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Or in small ways, like mentoring last year our amazing YearUp intern–who now, I’m proud to say–is a full time employee of the Salesforce Foundation.

To learn more about Darcy and Ebony, check out their biographies on our Summit speakers’ page. And if you haven’t yet, register today for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

CSR Food For Thought: #MakeTodayMatter for a Better Tomorrow

Stack of NewspapersThe 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.



Bank Pays for Customers’ Volunteer Projects to Inspire More Good Deeds
We’ve all heard about companies aiding and encouraging their employees’ volunteer efforts. But what about their customers’? This Huffington Post article highlights TD Bank’s creative way to give back – by funding the community projects of selected customers. The stipulation? They had to complete their projects in 24 hours to #MakeTodayMatter.

Corporate-Giving Effort Aims to Expand Giving Tuesday
If your company participated in #GivingTuesday this year – that’s wonderful! Many great nonprofits are truly thankful for the support they receive on this new(ish) holiday. There are some companies, however, that are pledging to take #GivingTuesday even further, according to this feature in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. By 2015, will 500 companies make the pledge to donate 1-1-1? That’s 1% of their equity, 1% of their employees’ time, and 1% of their products. What do you think?

November Corporate Citizenship Highlights
Happy December! While we look ahead to the holidays, let’s also look back on the CSR accomplishments from last month. From Google’s matching donations for fighting Ebola to companies staying closed on Thanksgiving to give employees time with their families, November was certainly an eventful month in the world of CSR. In this post, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship discusses some of the accomplishments. What would you add to the list of November corporate good deeds?

CVS Celebrates #GivingTuesday and Colleague Volunteerism by Awarding $100,000 to 50 Nonprofits Nationwide
The employees at CVS Health volunteer for some great community organizations. So, when #GivingTuesday rolled around, it was a perfect fit to donate to the organizations company employees hold dear to them. Employees were invited to nominate an organization they volunteer for to win one of 50 grants from the CVS Health Foundation. Read their press release on 3BL Media for more information and the full list of grantees.

2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Refreshingly Awesome Employee Volunteer Programs

At the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit, we learned from experts in CSR, volunteer engagement, technology and program administration. In this series of blog posts, we’ll share with you the valuable insights offered at each session. Up today: REfreshingly Awesome Programs.

Lauren Keeler of Apollo Education Group and Tyler Butler of GoDaddy make awesome look easy. At VolunteerMatch’s Client Summit, they shared some creative projects they developed for their employee volunteer programs. They’re not afraid to step out of the box, and you shouldn’t be either!

Picture of Lauren Keeler

Lauren Keeler, Director, Community Engagement, Apollo Education Group

Picture of Tyler Butler

Tyler Butler, Director, Community Outreach, GoDaddy

Lauren started a 10-person pilot volunteer program that has grown so big employees are on a waiting list to participate! How did it become so successful? Lauren changed things up. Apollo previously participated in a one-on-one reading program on location at an area school. Realizing people’s busy schedules, transport time, and also taking into consideration Apollo’s culture, Lauren implemented a virtual tutoring model. This new flexibility attracted many more volunteers and increased excitement about the program.

One of the programs Tyler manages is the Hope for Soap drive. Employees are encouraged to donate toiletry items to families across the country. In 2014 alone, employees donated over 5,000 items. But it’s not just the families that benefit. GoDaddy incorporates prizes to boost involvement in the Hope for Soap drive, as well as other volunteering campaigns. For example, in certain annual giving challenges, employees can win tickets to exclusive events and one-on-one time with senior leadership in the form of bike rides and lunches. Tyler showed us how a little incentive and some healthy competition can go a long way.

Thanks again to Tyler and Lauren for sharing such inspiring insights. They reminded us that it’s okay to challenge the status quo when it comes to developing employee volunteer programs. For more on their awesome programs, check out the slides from their session.

CSR Food For Thought: A Tall Glass of Gratitude from Jack Daniel’s

Stack of NewspapersThe 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.



Jack Daniel’s Continues to Help Service Members Get Home for the Holidays
It’s that time of year. Many of us travel across the country (and the world!) to be with family and friends for the holiday season. And as Jeff Arnett of Jack Daniel’s puts it, “No one understands more deeply than a service member what it means to be home for the holidays.” Read this press release on 3BL Media to learn about Jack Daniel’s partnership with the Armed Services YMCA on “Operation Ride Home”.

Giving Programs that Lead to Deeper Engagement
Yes, the holidays are the biggest time of the year for donations of both time and money. But how do you keep your employees from feeling like your giving program is just one more out of the hundreds they’re pitched? In this post, Realized Worth suggests a strategy for creating volunteering and monetary giving programs that truly engage your employees, using the amazing nonprofit Kiva as an example.

Many Top Fortune 500 Companies Receive Perfect Score on LGBT Equality
The Human Rights Campaign released its 2015 Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates companies based on their policies surrounding LGBT employees. 150 Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan Chase, General Motors, and UnitedHealth Group, received a perfect score of 100%. The study looked at factors such as the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies, inclusive health benefits, and a public commitment to equality.

Volunteerism 2.0: Local and Global Citizenship through Employee Engagement
At the 2014 Net Impact Conference, Laura Asiala of PYXERA Global gave an inspiring talk on the relationship between volunteerism and employee engagement. New Global Citizens has posted the text of this talk. Hear examples of how companies have used volunteering as a strategic (and successful) tool – and how your company can do the same.

What’s Your Giving in Numbers?

If your company has revenue of more than $2 billion, you can participate in this year's CECP Giving in Numbers survey.How does your company’s giving stack up against others? CECP’s annual Giving in Numbers report helps answer that question, and each year the insight becomes more valuable as more data is collected from more companies. This year, we’re helping spread the word to companies who can participate in the survey.

The source for the most comprehensive look at corporate giving trends year to year, CECP, in association with The Conference Board, has opened its 13th annual Giving in Numbers survey. This is the only rigorous study of corporate societal engagement available for public download at no cost. The data is gathered through a survey of approximately 250 of the largest companies in the world, and will capture information on total giving, program areas, employee engagement, predictions for 2014, and more.

Not only does the survey allow for year-over-year tracking of key industry giving benchmarks, but this year will also include new perspectives on key trends such as:

  • Societal impact measurement
  • Global giving, including questions on total giving using the CECP Global Guide valuation guidance and giving data by country
  • Employee engagement and company gift-matching programs

CECP's annual Giving in Numbers report.All companies with $2 billion or more in revenue are invited to join the free benchmarking project by contacting CECP. The submission deadline for inclusion in the analysis is April 1, 2014. CECP will provide an exclusive look at the findings from the survey to its affiliated companies at the CECP Summit on May 20, 2014 in New York City and will share results with the media later that day.

If your company has revenue of $2 billion or more, contact CECP to participate in the 2014 Giving in Numbers survey!


CSR Food for Thought: Fight Poverty, Build Your Bottom Line

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.

What’s In It for Business in the Fight Against Poverty?

We can all agree that there’s a powerful moral and practical case for ending poverty. But there is also a compelling business case. In the fourth in a six-part series on the fight against global poverty, Mal Warwick shares five factors that show how serving the world’s “bottom billions” can be good for your company’s bottom line.

For Companies Looking to Create Social Impact, Multicultural Consumers are a “Must-Engage” Audience

According to the recently released 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, multicultural consumers (particularly Hispanics and African Americans) are driving forces behind the evolution of cause to more robust social impact. Learn more about these critical stakeholders, including expert POVs and tips for marketers, in Cone’s downloadable study.

Michael Porter: Why business can be good at solving social problems

Instead of turning to nonprofits, NGOs and governments to solve society’s biggest problems, business school professor Michael Porter wants you to hear his case in this TED talk for letting business try to solve massive problems like climate change and access to water. Why? Because when business solves a problem, it makes a profit – which lets that solution grow.

Global Impact Announces Research Findings at BCLC Conference

Global Impact just released the results of a research report, “Giving Beyond Borders: A Study of Global Giving by U.S. Corporations,” at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center’s (BCLC) annual corporate social responsibility conference. The study examines factors that influence corporations in their decisions to invest in projects, organizations and communities outside the United States, and the results suggest that companies see global philanthropy not only as charitable, but as a smart business investment.

Webinar Recap: Why Cause Marketing is a Good Investment in 2013

In this month’s engaging Best Practice Network (BPN) Webinar, Joe Waters, the author of the web’s #1 cause marketing blog and the co-author of Cause Marketing for Dummies, leads a fascinating discussion about the ins and outs of cause marketing and the many ways it can help your business. He was joined by Robert Rosenthal, our VP of Communications & Marketing here at VolunteerMatch.

What is cause marketing?

In Joe’s experience, most people see cause marketing as either corporate giving or marketing of causes. But as he explains, it has elements of both. “Cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit, for mutual profit,” says Joe. This partnership creates revenue, awareness and an overall “mutual benefit” for both players.  However, cause marketing is not one sided; it requires a lot of work and dedication from both the company and the nonprofit.

This “win-win, work-work” scenario can be seen in the partnership between Starbucks and Product RED. For World AIDS Day, a percentage of each drink served at Starbucks goes towards Product RED, which translates into millions of dollars for the nonprofit. As Joe’s example demonstrates, a company can often raise more money for a nonprofit through consumers than by simply writing a check.

Higher consumer expectations

Cause marketing is one of the important drivers that gets people to buy, and it’s something that consumers are considering more. Company favorability with consumers is a major incentive for cause marketing. In the instance of the recent Boston Bombings, companies not only want to show support, consumers expect them to give back.

To further illustrate this point, Joe gives us some fascinating statistics: In a recent study, 64% of consumers would pay more for a brand because it supports a cause that is important to them.

Using the right cause effectively

Most companies gravitate towards what Joe calls a “garanimal connection” or working with a nonprofit that operates in a similar field, like a restaurant working with a food bank; but Joe introduces several other options that companies can consider.

Is your company passionate about a cause? There is a power in being able to share that passion with consumers. If your company doesn’t gravitate towards any cause in particular, joining a nonprofit that has an army of existing loyal supporters can be opportunity to reach a whole new audience. Additionally, a cause that has a strong emotional impact can also be a great partner.

Joe outlines several traditional cause marketing campaigns such as pinups, sponsored runs and walks and business-to-business employee engagement programs. Although these time-tested campaigns are effective, Joe points out that the future of cause marketing is digital.

Growing your digital profile

As Joe explains, companies are seeing spectacular results with cause marketing programs on digital platforms like Facebook, which can use the power of social media to significantly increase consumer participation. Although these programs can be just as effective as traditional cause marketing campaigns, Joe emphasizes that your company needs either an existing strong online presence or something to start with.

In the coming years, the digital arena is where cause marketing is going to happen. Joe predicts that we’re not going to see as much point-of-sale, purchase triggered or register programs — most of the programs will be driven by digital and mobile.

To learn more about this fascinating discussion with Joe Waters, view the full BPN Webinar on YouTube or the presentation on slideshare.

Stayed tuned for our next Best Practice Network Webinar!