Lessons from the Road: Shaking Up Employee Volunteer Programs

This article is part of a special series penned by VolunteerMatch leadership focused on the changes we all need to make to our programs and strategies to shape the future of employee volunteering and corporate social responsibility. How will you innovate your employee volunteer program? Here are some ideas we picked up on the road.Earlier this month I hit the road with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch’s VP of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships. We headed up to Portland to present to Hands On Greater Portland’s Corporate Volunteer Council to share our expertise with employee volunteer managers about how to keep your employee volunteer program (EVP) fresh and exciting. Leading up to the presentation, we had a tough internal conversation which amounted to this: how controversial did we want to be? What would happen if we just came out and said that we think EVPs should be doing more? We decided to go for it – those Portlanders are a tough bunch with all that fresh air! And it worked: when we asked the room of EVP managers “how many of you feel like your employee volunteer program is as strong as it can be?” we (not surprisingly) didn’t see a single hand. Through the conversation, we reviewed a few frameworks that can help companies “reinvent the road,” including:

  • Go back and review the core reasons that your company has a volunteer program – other than for the community benefit. And be honest.
  • Look at the overlap between your employees’ passions, your corporate strategy and your communities’ needs. Think about the shared value between your company’s strategy and society’s needs.
  • Constantly adapt, assess and evolve using the program change model.

Towards the end of the presentation, we shifted to brainstorming specific program components. There were some great insights!

Communications Trends

We discussed communications, and two trends became clear:

  1. People are overstimulated with messages, so we have to think about creative, new ways to reach them, particularly focused on social, inclusive, lively, fashionable, and visual methods.
  2. We have to go back to basics. Sometimes the least efficient mode of communication is the most effective (meaning, sometimes you have to go back to face-to-face interactions).

Measurement Challenges

One area where most companies struggle is measurement. Everyone in the room agreed that the silver bullet is tracking impact, but we have not yet developed a way to successfully track this. By the end of the discussion, the trending idea was that corporations need to invest in nonprofit infrastructure to build open-source tools to track metrics that are mutually beneficial for corporations and nonprofits. VolunteerMatch loves this idea – who is up for helping us achieve this project?

Incentives that Work

Finally, we brainstormed on creative incentives. While we all agreed that awards, competition, dollars for doers and VTO are effective, there was one major idea that emerged: incentives need to be carefully implemented to feel authentic. The culture of philanthropy is not something that can be forced or created through incentives, as the true motivation to volunteer is inherently intrinsic. You want to create incentives that match this ethos: Make it easy and rewarding for the volunteers who already engage, and don’t try to force employees to volunteer who aren’t naturally drawn to it. In an ideal world, what if you could flip incentives on their heads, and instead recruit and hire employees based on their community-minded drive? So now our challenge for you – how can you innovate on your EVP to increase your impact? Think about how your program is unique, and what value your employees can bring to the community. Think critically about why you do what you do, and start to challenge your company to do more. We’re here to help if you need us! Let us know how you want to innovate on your EVP – connect via Twitter at @VM_Solutions, and check out the rest of the blogs in this special series.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: Are Your Values Worth More Than Your Profits?

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.

Are Your Values Worth More Than Your Profits?

An insightful question to open up a discussion on the Digalicious Digital Strategy blog about CVS’ recent decision to stop selling cigarettes in their drug stores. What it’s really about is the evolution of the brand – so what big changes would your brand need to make to be better aligned with your values?

5 Ways Causes and Companies Got Together for the Big Game

In the aftermath of the very exciting/disappointing Super Bowl (depending on where you live,) this Fast Co.Exist article submits that the real winners were the causes and companies who partnered to spread their messages to consumers. The article includes five examples of creative and inspirational ad campaigns that appeared as part of the big day.

5 Ways to Make a Sustainability Report Sparkle

…Literally. Elaine Cohen describes the impressive elements of Tiffany & Co.’s third Corporate Responsibility Report, and then conducts an illuminating interview with the Chair and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Vice President of Global Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Tiffany & Co.

MGM Resorts International Presents the 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in Las Vegas

We know, MLK Day was weeks ago. But we are so impressed by the parade put on by MGM Resorts International, and not just because of the cool floats. It’s also the avid participation of the company’s employees as volunteers, marching in the parade and helping to make the event a success. Their time was truly spent enriching their community.

Continue reading

CSR Tip of the Month: We Can Help You Keep Your Resolutions

Each month our rock star team of Client Relations Managers shares one tip related to employee engagement, using VolunteerMatch Solutions tools, and running a great volunteer program. Apply these tips today to improve your program! (You can also learn more about how VolunteerMatch can help your company’s CSR activities.)

Laura Ellis, Client Relations Manager at VolunteerMatch, shares ideas for incentivizing employee volunteer participation.This month’s tip comes from Laura Ellis, Client Relations Manager.

We’ve talked about the Personal Hours Tracking Gauge before, but did you know it can help you and your employees keep your New Year’s resolutions?

Now is that special time of year when New Year’s resolutions start to fade into obscurity, replaced by all the reasons we come up with why they are no longer as important as we thought. Don’t let this happen to your resolutions for volunteering and community impact!

The Personal Hours Tracking Gauge allows you and your employees to track hours for the year, month, quarter, and/or other time interval (speak with your Client Relations Manager or take a demo if you want to learn more about all of the flexible options.) And, if you have a personal or company goal for volunteer hours set, we can remind you to check your Gauge to keep yourself accountable.

Making a difference in the world is one New Year’s resolution that you and your employees shouldn’t let go – and the Personal Hours Tracking Gauge makes it easy to see your progress and keep it top of mind. My advice: Keep your New Year’s resolution with a VolunteerMatch Solution!

Click here to learn more about how the Personal Hours Tracking Gauge and VolunteerMatch Employee Solutions can help you and your employees reach your volunteering goals.

Continue reading

CSR Food for Thought: Meet the Women in CSR

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.

We Ask, They Answer: Women in CSR

Triple Pundit launched this inspiring and illuminating series of interviews with leading CSR practitioners in order to understand what makes these women tick, and how they found their way into sustainability careers. Meet the women in CSR – an experience that will be valuable for someone of any gender.

5 Key Qualities of Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Events

The headline pretty much says it all here. This article is clear and to-the-point, which actionable tips and concrete real-life examples. Realized Worth continues to prove itself a valuable resource for companies looking to integrate employee volunteering and workplace giving into the core of their business.

Redefining Value: The New Metrics of Sustainable Business

In 2011, Sustainable Brands launched a series of conversations on the shifts occurring in the relationship between brands and their customers, and how the metrics used to track business success must also change. This report provides a recap of key themes and takeaways from these conversations to date, in the form of reflections on recent lessons, leading case studies and forthcoming opportunities.

2012 VolunteerMatch Impact Report: Investing in You

In keeping with our tradition of releasing non-traditional annual reports, the 2012 VolunteerMatch Impact Report highlights the Web’s largest volunteer engagement network by the numbers, gives a glimpse of geographic distribution of volunteering, and includes an entire section all about the impact of workplace volunteering in 2012. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Continue reading

2013 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards: A Look at Finalist Morgan Stanley

On May 16, 2013, winners of the 2013 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards will be announced at our annual VolunteerMatch Client Summit in New York City, NY. In this series of posts, we’ll introduce you to people and ideas behind the ten most effective employee volunteer programs in our family of corporate clients compared against our annual benchmarks.

As a leader in the corporate community involvement world, volunteerism is a key part of Morgan Stanley’s 77-year-long commitment to giving back – and the company has been terrific at it.

In 2009 we recognized Morgan Stanley staff as our Champions of the Year. In 2012, the company was on-hand at the Client Summit to accept the award for Employee Volunteer Program Of The Year in the large business category. And in 2013, we are proud to once again announce Morgan Stanley as a Finalist for Program Of The Year.

According to Minori Rueda of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, underlying the company’s success are two complimentary approaches to how it designs its programs. First, the goal is not only to create immediate impact, but to prepare employees for a lifetime of service over the long term. Second, Morgan Stanley’s programs emphasize ease so employees can quickly engage without sacrificing lasting value for the community.

While the company has always demonstrated what an effective program looks like, several of the company’s volunteer initiatives stand out:

Year-Round Volunteer Program – The Year-Round Volunteer Program encourages employees to join their colleagues in building long-term partnerships with Morgan Stanley’s charitable partners in order to drive greater impact in our communities. Morgan Stanley offices across the US collaborate with their “charity of the year” on developing projects based on the charities’ needs and opportunities.

Global Volunteer Month – Held in June since 2006, Global Volunteer Month is an annual volunteer service campaign that mobilizes employees around the world to become involved with the Firm’s nonprofit partners and signature giving priorities, or alternatively with causes they are personally passionate about. Every employee of the Firm is asked to personally invest in making a difference by participating.

The company made sure to accommodate the schedules for every employee, providing a range of opportunities from large-scale projects in which an entire division of several hundred painted a school or cleaned a park, to smaller projects for employees who cannot leave during business hours, such as packing backpacks or providing career development advice for youth.

Strategy Challenge – Morgan Stanley’s annual, signature, skills-based volunteer competition launched in 2009. Strategy Challenge pairs teams of Morgan Stanley employees with 12-15 nonprofit organizations across the country to provide pro bono strategic advice on issues related to business model optimization, geographic or program expansion, and new business model.

Each team spends two months crafting recommendations to address pressing challenges for the organization, while developing their own leadership, teamwork and analytical skills. Over the past four years, the Strategy Challenge has cumulatively delivered over 22,500 hours to 49 nonprofit organizations.

Some 2013 highlights of Morgan Stanley’s community involvement include:

  • Employees gave 430,000 hours of their time and talent to philanthropic causes, and along with matching gifts from Morgan Stanley, funded nearly $82 million to charities globally.
  • During Global Volunteer Month, Morgan Stanley employees set a record of 176,000 hours of service.
  • 32,000 Morgan Stanley employees participated in the volunteering program, representing an increased participation rate of 13 percent over last year.
  • During the 2012 Strategy Challenge, Morgan Stanley teams donated more than 8,000 hours of high-impact analysis and advice – equivalent to a market value of approximately $1.2 million (based on pro bono standards developed by the Pro Bono Action Tank).

Kudos to Morgan Stanley for its excellent volunteer program and for showing what a lasting commitment to giving back looks like!

Stay tuned for more finalist profiles in the coming weeks, and announcement of the winners on May 16, 2013 during the 2013 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Continue reading

2013 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards: A Look at Finalist Nationwide

On May 16, 2013, winners of the 2013 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards will be announced at our annual VolunteerMatch Client Summit in New York City, NY. In this series of posts, we’ll introduce you to people and ideas behind the ten most effective employee volunteer programs in our family of corporate clients compared against our annual benchmarks.

Nationwide

Nationwide’s successful volunteer program has greatly contributed to the health and well-being of local communities where its employees live and work. Nationwide’s On Your Side Volunteer Network, created in 2005, is all about “providing employees with an easy way to find opportunities to get involved in their community whether it’s through a Nationwide project or on their own,” according to Julie VanDeLinder, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Nationwide.

In 2012, On Your Side Volunteer Network recorded more than 115,000 volunteer hours and more than 9,000 volunteer activity sign ups. Its national partners are United Way, Feeding America, and American Red Cross, as well as over 1,600 local organizations around the U.S. Among its volunteer projects in Columbus, OH, where Nationwide is headquartered, Nationwide’s employees accounted for 25% of the volunteers for Mid-Ohio Foodbank. In addition, 29,835 volunteers served over 200,000 people in 2012 through various projects coordinated within Nationwide.

To tap into and unlock the passion of its team, Nationwide also provides these excellent incentives for employees:

  • Employees who volunteer more than 25 hours are eligible for paid time off and their managers are notified for their service to the community.
  • Seven hundred and fifty grants of $100 were awarded to organizations where Nationwide employees volunteered for more than 25 hours.
  • 298 associates, served on 380 boards of nonprofit organizations. These organizations received $500 grants from Nationwide.
  • Nationwide also awards one employee Volunteer of the Year, who receives a $5,000 grant and two vacation days. The other nine finalists are given $500 grants and one vacation day.

Huge congratulations to Nationwide for its service in its community and for facilitating an excellent volunteer program!

Stay tuned for more finalist profiles in the coming weeks, and announcement of the winners on May 16, 2013 during the 2013 VolunteerMatch Client Summit.
Continue reading