Corporate Social Responsibility Food For Thought

CSR Food for ThoughtThe “Food for Thought” series is a roundup of recent CSR-related news, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

CSR Programs Increase Revenue up to 20%, Says Verizon, Campbell Soup Study
From Environmental Leader: Get the stats on how a great CSR program can benefit your company in all kinds of ways – not just in increased sales.

Beyond the PDF: 5 Tips to Leverage CSR Reports for Greatest ROI
From Triple Pundit: CSR reports aren’t just for investors anymore. Find out how to make your reports resonate with a wider audience with these 5 tips.

For more on CSR and ROI, check out our recent blog post, Answering the Eternal Question of Return on Investment.

5 Affordable Benefits Employees Appreciate But Few Companies Offer
From Entrepreneur: Read about how a few extra benefits can differentiate your company in a huge way, helping you bring on and keep top employees. Oh, and pay special attention to number 5.

U.S. Employee Engagement Unmoved in June at 31.9%
From Gallup: While higher percentages than previous years, 31.9% is still pretty low for the number of employees engaged at work. Read how Gallup calculates these numbers.

And don’t forget: Corporate volunteer programs are a great way to increase employee engagement.

Why Having a Heart is Good for Business
From Huffington Post: Learn how companies can show their employees they care about their communities – and what this means for business.

Enjoy! And follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

Changing Corporate Perspectives on Workplace Volunteer Programs: Q & A, Part 2

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

Angela Parker & Chris Jarvis

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

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 two of this two-part series, I’m pleased to share these additional insights from Angela and Chris.

Q: How aligned does volunteerism need to be with a company’s funding focus areas? We have employees who want to volunteer for causes the company does not fund. Does this matter?

A: Most people in your company are not involved in the community. In fact, only 25% of Americans formally volunteer. If you limit volunteer opportunities strictly to your company’s desires, you make the tent smaller than it already is.

Generally, providing three tiers of volunteer opportunities can help satisfy the company, your employees, and the community. Here’s one way to structure that:

  • Tier 1: Signature Programs – Big events that match a specific cause with the company’s strategic focus. For example, a bank’s signature program could be financial literacy.
  • Tier 2: Community Programs – Smaller, community-focused events that match a specific cause with a social or environmental issue in a community. Many large companies have offices all over the world. Community programs need not be related to the company’s giving focus, but should have direct local proximity to the cause.
  • Tier 3: Employee Choice – Causes that matter to employees.

When you allow employees to follow their passion/pet causes, they will more likely want to get involved in events featuring the company’s focus. Generating this “quid pro quo” could end up boosting support for your signature programs.

Q: Do measurements such as Social Return on Investment (SROI) look at the impact of volunteering?

A: There are a number of measurement experts in the field. Two that come to mind are VeraWorks and True Impact. Strong SROI measurement tools do include the impact volunteering has on the beneficiaries and the community. We encourage you to explore some of these models and adapt them to what you need.

One recent advancement in the measurement space is determining the benefit volunteering has on the company. A group of companies in Canada recently launched a project to tie volunteering to retention rates and employee satisfaction scores; the hope being that knowing the financial impact of volunteering can help boost internal budgets and support for more community activity.

Q: How can you maximize the passion of really engaged employees?

A: A key attribute of transformative volunteer programs is the role of the “third-stage volunteer” (aka “Champion”, “Ambassador”, “Guide”). In any given company, approximately 6% of employees fit this model – and you can tell them a mile away! They are always passionate about volunteering, always supporting local causes, and always asking you to sponsor the next run, walk or bikeathon.

The best way to maximize the passion of these individuals is to elevate them to a leadership position. Their highest level of contribution may, in fact, be bringing others along for the ride. And they want nothing more than to share the transformative experiences they have had already. They’ll love you for it – and they’ll return the favor by digging deeper into their “passion” reserves!

Thanks, Angela and Chris!

Missed the webinar? You can still watch a recording of the webinar, and browse the slide deck.

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

You Have a Great Employee Volunteer Program? Prove It.

VolunteerMatch reportingVolunteerMatch has been in the employee volunteer program (EVP) space for quite a while. Over 15 years, actually.

From our time here, we’ve seen a lot. We’ve talked to a lot of people out in the field, we’ve held a lot of Q&A sessions (both online and off), and we’ve read a lot of articles and research. Through all this, one thing has been painfully clear:

Getting internal buy-in for your EVP is one of the most challenging – and most important – parts of a running an EVP.

VolunteerMatch allows us to track the participation metrics for our programs in one system – hours, employees, projects – all of this data paints a picture of our impact.
-Erin Dieterich,
NetSuite

We’ve discussed in the past how reporting features are the most powerful, and often under-utilized, tool your EVP has. YourMatch™, VolunteerMatch’s EVP software, makes it easy to prove your program’s impact with quick, customizable reporting features and personalized dashboard. Why? Because we’ve seen firsthand how important it is.

YourMatch™ comes with a handful of “classic reports”, which include a super-easy way to pull the data that most EVP managers care about. With a few clicks and just a few seconds, you’ll know:

  • The total volunteer hours your company donated in a given time period
  • Who your most active volunteers are
  • Which departments or locations are having the biggest impact
  • Which cause areas are most popular with your employees
  • Much, more more.

You can also create your own custom reports, and determine what data you’re even recording, all customizable based on your company’s individual priorities.

Remember: Reporting is not only the best way to showcase what your program is already accomplishing, it can shine light on the path ahead. Getting to know the ways in which your employees choose to volunteer is great intel for shaping your future EVP strategy.

Want to learn more? Watch a demo of our tools. And never wonder again how you’re going to answer the question, “What’s the impact of our employee volunteer program?”

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.