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.

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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.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights:  What is Your EVP Data Saying?

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: REanalyze: What is Your EVP Data Saying?

“How are we doing?”

Picture of Jake Sanches

Jake Sanches, internal metrics and analytics guru at Palantir Technologies

This is the most common question our client services team hears from our corporate and nonprofit partners. And it should be. Employee volunteer programs, like any other business expenditure, need to demonstrate impact and value to multiple audiences. Data is critical to the success and continued support of EVPs, especially since these programs are relatively new in the corporate world and don’t yet have an established set of benchmarks.

So, how can your organization answer that oh-so-common question: How are we doing?

There are some existing guideposts, such as the number of hours employees contribute, the social value generated (a calculation based on numbers from the Independent Sector), the percent of employees engaged, and so on. However, because of the lack of public benchmarks, small sample sizes for specific company types and sizes, and the fact that companies have different cultures, priorities, and history when it comes volunteering, it’s very hard to make valid comparisons. At VolunteerMatch, we often suggest that each company, with some guidance, take it upon themselves to identify outcomes that reflect their priorities and keep an eye on these outcomes over time.

The most important thing is, if not to fall in love, then at least fall in like with data! VolunteerMatch wants to lead this charge. This summer and fall, we worked with Jake Sanches, a volunteer from Palantir Technologies. We designed and sent a survey to our clients asking what metrics are important to them, how they use data, and how VolunteerMatch can improve its reporting dashboard and quarterly reports.

During his presentation at the Client Summit, Jake discussed the survey’s findings. He demonstrated how big data has made its way into the public consciousness through sites like Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, and how data can be a significant driver in the development of your EVP. Jake then covered how to choose the right metrics for your program and brought up commonly overlooked metrics. These included: Finding volunteers based on tenure to make sure new employees are getting into the program quickly, discovering your rock star volunteers so they can help spread the word, determining the time of year most popular for volunteering, and much more. He concluded with a list of best practices for communicating data to different audiences.

In summary, if you really want your EVP to soar, data is critical. You can start small, with just a few easy metrics, and as your program evolves, you can expand. You might even find some hidden gems that reflect something unique to your company. Incorporating a metrics-centered approach will not only give you a better idea of what’s going on with your program right now, but will help you plan for the future, help you to make the case for expansion and budget increases, and will generate great storytelling material.

For more details on this topic, view the slides from Jake’s presentation. You can also watch the video from his encore Webinar.

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How Corporate Volunteer Programs Increase Employee Engagement

Guest post by Scott Huntington

Volunteers from Whirlpool pose with school supplies during the company's 2012 Volunteer Week.

Volunteers from Whirlpool pose with school supplies during the company’s 2012 Volunteer Week.

Business magazines and blogs frequently discuss how important it is for employees to work together in teams, but have you ever thought about whether your workplace may be suffering from a lack of overall employee engagement?

When employees are not committed to their jobs, they may not be as productive and might even start looking for other places to work. Fortunately, corporate volunteer programs could remedy the common problem of low employee engagement and help your workers learn to progress towards common goals, as well.

Volunteering Creates a Sense of Purpose

Most people want to be able to feel they’re doing something good with their time and their lives. It can be hard to come to those conclusions if a person feels like he or she is stuck in a monotonous job or is just uncertain of how particular work duties fit into the overall scheme of what the company is trying to achieve.

However, volunteerism offers a great way for people to remember just how valuable their time is, especially when it is used for the benefit of others. Eventually, that could translate to people being more willing to pitch in and go above and beyond what their job titles dictate that they should do while on the clock at work.

Employee Retention Could Increase

There is also evidence to suggest employees expect workplaces to offer volunteer opportunities. A recent article from Forbes discussed an in-depth survey performed by America’s Charities, which found how 68 percent of respondents looked to employers to provide ways to give back. In some cases, that meant instituting a workplace giving program, and in others, employees wanted permission to use work hours for volunteer purposes.

Clearly, volunteerism is becoming more and more important for today’s workers. If a workplace doesn’t meet the desire its employees have to do good for others, it makes sense why some people might start looking for workplaces that are built around more generous-hearted ideals.

Volunteering Builds Good Leaders

Employees who volunteer are also often willing to frequently lead others, even if they are not in supervisory positions. There are several reasons why this is the case. For starters, volunteerism helps people expand their perspectives, which can often mean they become much more in tune with things happening outside of the workplace.

Additionally, being a volunteer often causes a person to discover new talents. That’s especially true if he or she has a very open mind and is willing to pitch in wherever it is necessary, even if that means going outside a comfort zone.

Acquiring skill sets tends to make a person feel more self-confident. Plus, once that individual enjoys the kind of broader worldview volunteerism can cultivate, he or she may feel compelled to not only leap into action and improve the world, but make the work environment better, too. Often, colleagues notice that attitude and want to follow suit.

Case Study

WebpageFX, an internet marketing company, has seen a huge jump in employee engagement since they started their Pencils of Promise program. The employees call their volunteer project “#FXBuilds” and are working to raise $25,000 to build a school in rural Guatemala. They’ve been working hard and feeling extremely rewarded at their progress so far. Their excitement is spreading and other local businesses like Bortek Industries have decided to look into Pencils of Promise and other employee volunteer programs as well.

These are just a few reasons why increased employee engagement and volunteerism can go hand-in-hand. When employees are not engaged, the workplace could suffer in ways ranging from loss of profits to higher turnover rates. Consider giving your employees ways to volunteer and see if they become more engaged as a result.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger with a passion for volunteering. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com.

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Why Smart Companies Volunteer

Why Smart Companies VolunteerWhy do so many smart companies have workplace volunteer programs? Well, if recent research is right, it might not be the reason you expected.

VolunteerMatch works with some of the best workplace volunteering programs in the world. And when we ask them why they believe volunteering is good for business, they are quick to point out that it: attracts and keeps talented employees; improves community relations; strengthens brand value; improves customer relations; demonstrates corporate values; builds teamwork; amplifies leadership; and when done well, expands an organization’s capacity to impact the issues most relevant to its long-term success.

These are all great reasons, and they reflect a changing business environment in which doing good and doing well are increasingly aligned. Smart companies have realized that dedicating themselves to big ideas with a clear sense of purpose has become a fundamental ingredient of success.

Take Google as an example…

Read the rest of Greg Baldwin’s post about how research shows that good business and good purpose are linked in unexpected ways.

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Inspiration Lives Here

Read inspiring stories of companies making a difference through employee and consumer engagement.

Who will you inspire with your company’s story?

Actually, inspiration is shared here. What really inspires us is the difference companies like yours can make through your employee and consumer engagement activities. Not only does your work have a direct impact in your communities, your employees feel richer and more fulfilled by the opportunity to give back through their workplace. What a deal!

When we hear about companies who are doing great things in volunteering, we tell their stories.

 

Want to be inspired? Read through the stories below, learn from what others in your field are doing, and share with your employees:

Does your company make a difference through your employee volunteer activities? Contact us and tell us about it! 

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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.

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