Changing Corporate Perspectives on Workplace Volunteer Programs: Q & A, Part 1

In last month’s Best Practice Webinar, we heard from Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis, co-founders of Realized Worth about Workplace Volunteer Programs.

We discussed the trends and challenges they’re seeing in their work, recommendations on how to inspire employees to volunteer, and the corporation’s role in a higher calling. The webinar was full of great content and discussion, but a few questions from our audience were left unanswered as our allotted time came to a close.

Angela and Chris were kind enough to answer these questions offline. In part of this two-part series, I’m pleased to share these additional insights from Angela and Chris.

Chris and Angela of Realized Worth

Chris Jarvis & Angela Parker

Q: What do you do if your company’s CSR Manager wants to implement a volunteer program, and the CEO says, “Our employees don’t want that.”?

Imagine he’s not open to seeing CECP studies, ROI studies, etc. Is it time time for a coup??

A: This is a great question – and one we hope never comes up! The answer is actually quite simple: there is no substitute for experience. Your employees can only be convinced of the true impact of volunteering when they experience it themselves.

This begs the next question: How do you give the CEO a meaningful experience? One way is to use good old-fashioned peer pressure, by leveraging the social capital of the people around him. This includes trusted advisors, peers and even family/ friends. If the event is run well – with clear linkages to the beneficiary of the cause – transformation can occur. And when that happens, the CEO can realize the influence the company plays in helping everyone achieve that.

This may take awhile, but it’s an essential step in ensuring you have buy-in from executives.

Q: Any advice on how to shift focus from quantity of volunteer events to quality of events? And can you communicate this to get buy-in?

I believe if the markets in my company– we have about 60– directed their focus to fewer, higher quality events per year, we would see more participation from employees. Right now, we’re experiencing volunteer fatigue because there is just too much going on– some markets have 2-3 events per month!

A: There are many answers to this great question. Without knowing your specific circumstance, here are a few tips to prevent volunteer fatigue:

  • Ensure you have diverse opportunities available covering many different causes. If the events are only driven by the company (helping to achieve a “signature” cause), you may be alienating some people. Find out what people care about and encourage people to follow their passion.
  • Meet people at their highest level of contribution – find the volunteers that may be “fatigued” and ask them to play a leadership role for the people in their department. Give them the tools to plan 2-3 meaningful events that match the interests of their colleagues.
  • Focus your measurement on engagement instead of participation. This includes measuring leadership development, skills development, and manager support. You may find that higher engagement happens with less (but more meaningful) events.
  • Involve non-traditional players. Find out what HR, marketing, finance and others would want to see from a volunteering program.

Q: How can we take desk-based or lunchroom-based volunteering efforts (because of our business need, folks can’t leave the office) and make them transformational?

A: This is an excellent question, and a common issue for many practitioners. Ryan Scott outlined some interesting ways to involve on-site employees in volunteering. His article Help, I Can’t Get Up!’ Volunteering From Your Desk covers this exact topic.

Thanks, Angela and Chris! Check back next week for part 2 of this Q&A series. In the meantime, you can watch a recording of the webinar, and browse the slide deck.

Note: Angela and Chris also contributed a chapter on this topic to VolunteerMatch’s new book. Learn more.

Registration Now Open for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

Come Together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch SummitHow does that song go? Come together, right now, over… volunteering.

Well, not quite. But The Beatles would probably approve of the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit (appropriately themed “Come Together)’s mission:

To explore ways to work across sectors, harnessing knowledge, resources and passions of volunteers to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

So, who should attend this one-of-a-kind event?

If you manage your company’s employee volunteer program, this summit is for you. If you’re a CSR professional looking for better ways to work with nonprofits, this summit is for you. If you’re with a national nonprofit and are looking for better ways to work with corporate partners, this summit is also for you.

And if you’re looking for a place to network and learn from others doing similar work with employee volunteerism, and also hear from industry experts, this summit is for you.

Registration is now open, so reserve your spot today.

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

ConAgra Foods: Fighting Child Hunger One Voice at a Time

ConAgra employee Rajan Taylor volunteers at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

ConAgra employee Rajan Taylor volunteering at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Guest Post by Kori Reed

I am a child of the ’80s whose mom played Barry Manilow’s albums throughout my formative years. So, what does this have to do with April’s National Volunteer Month?

Rajan Taylor, a security contractor at the ConAgra Foods’ St. Louis office, makes me want to break out into song. Specifically, Manilow’s One Voice, which he also performed at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. It’s inspired by the idea that if one person stands up for what he believes in, the rest will follow.

Rajan read about ConAgra Foods’ long-standing commitment to take action against child hunger and that generated an idea. He’ll humbly tell you he simply called a few friends and sent an email, but he ultimately sparked the largest, single-day, citywide food drive in history to benefit the St. Louis Area Foodbank – a member of the Feeding America network. He called the event, held on March 20, 2015, “Spring into Giving,” which is an appropriate phrase to describe his actions to engage more than 75 St. Louis companies to raise more than 50,000 lbs. of food, or rather more than 40,000 meals in one day.

Rajan embodies ConAgra Foods’ spirit of taking and catalyzing action to eradicate child hunger, a big problem. Nearly 16 million children in the U.S. struggle to get enough to eat, and this can hold them back from the opportunities they deserve — education, hope and a thriving future. Hunger will not be solved by one organization alone; we value our partnership with Feeding America, friends and even competitors, but we need more people like Rajan to join in, spark change and give hope to our neighbors. (For even more inspiration see youth Making a Mark on Hunger.)

In April, we celebrate National Volunteer Month and work to fight hunger through ConAgra Foods’ Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. Rajan is one of many champions in the company, across office locations and facilities, who are inspired to engage in the annual, coordinated hunger-service event. During last year’s month of service, employee efforts lead to packing more than 1 million meals and contributing more than 7,000 hunger-service hours in more than 25 U.S. cities in a single month.

This year we will do it again – only on an even larger scale. On April 1, ConAgra Foods officially launched its fifth-annual, coordinated hunger-service event. Throughout the month, employees will pack meals, organize fundraising events and may even apply skills, like project management, to enhance efficiencies at food banks and pantries. This year, our goal is to reach 10,000 hunger-service hours by volunteering in our respective communities.

Rajan is doing his part. He tells us he is excited that ConAgra Foods will be known throughout St. Louis as a company that acts on its belief to end hunger; and we tip our hats to Rajan. To borrow from Barry, “We need just one voice facing the unknown, and then that one voice would never be alone.” Thanks, Rajan, for being the One Voice and inspiring the rest of us to join you.

Kori Reed is vice president, Cause and Foundation, at ConAgra Foods.

3 Ways to Honor Martin Luther King’s Legacy of Service and Social Justice

Guest post by Ann Saylor

Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr.Once in a while, a seemingly ordinary person rises up to be a hero, changing culture forever. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those men, and we now recognize him as a renowned American civil rights leader. He was hugely influential on American culture through his campaigns to end racial segregation and promote racial equality. To honor his legacy, the third Monday of January has been named a federal holiday. This year, it falls on January 19th.

Though many people have the day off from work or school, national service organizations have adopted the slogan A Day On, Not a Day Off to challenge Americans to rally together in service. Here are three ways your company can continue Dr. King’s legacy on Martin Luther King Day or throughout the year:

  1. Serve together. King said:

    “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

    Where can you and your employees share a little love in your community?  If you don’t already have a nonprofit partner in your corporate social responsibility plan, then find a daycare center, an animal shelter, a nursing home, or a community center (to name a few). Ask them how your employees can help, and make plans to serve.

  2. Work together to empower your community. Dr. King wisely believed:

    “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

    Study a community issue that is a fit with your company, such as homelessness, illiteracy, or hunger. Identify one of the root causes and develop a targeted action plan that will inspire change and strengthen impoverished areas of your community.

  3. Seek justice through advocacy. Rally your employees to speak up about community issues and challenge others to take action. Ponder Dr. King’s words in this quote:

    “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

    Identify a cause and a message that is important to your employees. Craft a plan for how you will spread your message and start speaking up – even if it’s uncomfortable.

Want more information on the strategies above? Get a free copy of the Seasons of Service Curriculum complete with three half-day experiences for leading an MLK Day event. It also has 12 highly interactive lessons plans to explore ways to use your individual gifts and talents to change the world. Finally, it outlines 11 half-day engaging and empowering service-learning experiences to introduce youth to meaningful service.  Request your copy by emailing cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

Ann Saylor is a nationally recognized trainer in positive youth development, service-learning, and play with purpose. She is also the co-author of 7 books including her latest, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, (published in September 2014 by Search Institute Press). Learn more through her website and her blog, or reach her at cad@TheAssetEdge.net or on Twitter @TheAssetEdge.

CSR Food For Thought: Do Companies Need CSR to Survive?

Image of wheat growing in the sun.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.

 

 

 

In the Future, Companies Will Survive Only if They Help Solve Big Social Problems
In the year 2025, the world will look a lot different for companies, according to this article from Forbes. Paul Klein of Impakt and Milinda Martin of Time Warner Cable teamed up to research the future of CSR. Based on this research, they predict we’ll see a large shift in corporations taking ownership of social good efforts and filling in the gaps from government cuts. What do you think?

Why Social Responsibility Needs to Be More than Just a Fad
The business world currently has an “infatuation” with CSR, according to this Fast Company article. But can it last? If this is indeed a fad, then it’s temporary by definition. This article muses on how we can make CSR last by embracing its complexity.

Ritz-Carlton Takes Corporate Volunteering to New Level as Partner of IMPACT 2030
Have you heard of IMPACT 2030? It’s an initiative by corporations to help reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. How? Volunteerism. This article from eHotelier, a news source for the hospitality industry, highlights Ritz-Carlton’s role as a founding partner of this initiative, and summarizes their accomplishments on the recent International Volunteer Day.

Turning a Profit While Doing Good: Aligning Sustainability with Corporate Performance
New research published by The Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings backs up what we knew all along: Corporate responsibility efforts are directly related to a company’s ultimate success. Harvard Business School researcher George Serafeim found that the most successful companies undertake social good projects that are relevant to their particular industry. Find out more in the full report.

The Cloud’s Silver Lining

Picture of Appirio employee volunteers

Appirio employees volunteer with the East Bay Youth Consortium.

To use the company’s time, talents and technology for social good.

That’s the straightforward mission of Appirio Silver Lining, the corporate responsibility arm of the global cloud services provider Appirio. VolunteerMatch is thrilled to welcome Appirio as a partner; they are aiming for the sky, and they are reaching it: Since its launch in 2010, the Silver Lining program’s employee participants have donated over 15,000 hours, $350,000, and helped over 400 different nonprofits. How do they do this? Three things…


Read the rest of Appirio’s Volunteer Spotlight
 to learn the three things Appirio does to make this magic happen, and the amazing things they have in store for #GivingTuesday.