Raising the Pro Bono Bar: The U.S. Bank Law Division

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. Today’s featured company: The U.S. Bank Law Division.Volunteers from US Bank Law Division

Pro bono work was made famous by the law profession, and the crew at the U.S. Bank Law Division is living up to this precedent.

The U.S. Bank Law Division works all across the U.S. at places such as a Vet Law Clinic, Housing Court, Immigrant Law Center, and Children’s Law Center. In the Twin Cities region alone, they’ve donated their time and skills to eight clinics.

In 2013, 70% of their lawyers engaged in pro bono activities. Even their non-lawyers got involved at a rate of 52%. The U.S. Bank Law Division is rightfully proud of their staff. Talk about impressive! They cite pro bono work as a priority for both their employees and their company as a whole.

Pictured above are some of the U.S. Bank’s pro bono volunteers. From left to right: Melissa Vermeersch, Sarah Stroebel (Chair), Jeannie Mccarver, Shannon Mahoney (Coordinator), Kyle Bakken, and Nick Richtman.

Encourage your own employees to get involved with pro bono and other volunteering opportunities with VolunteerMatch Solutions.

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Top 3 Things I Learned About Pro Bono from the First Twitter Talk Tuesday

This post also appears on Engaging Volunteers.

Tweet, Twitter, Bird, Blue, Twig, Branch, Green, HillsOn Tuesday, November 19, my team and I rounded up with coffee in our hands and entered the Twittersphere to begin our first Twitter Talk Tuesday. As an intern at VolunteerMatch I was able to be an integral part of the project. Our first topic was pro bono and skilled volunteering.

To be honest, I am not an expert in this field and I was a little intimidated to be a participating member of Twitter Talk Tuesday. Here are some of the things I learned throughout the hour-long chat:

Setting the foundation of a pro bono project

We started the chat off talking about how the initial conversation between a nonprofit and a company can be complicated concerning pro bono projects. Many of the responses we received said that both parties need to be clear on what the goal is, how to efficiently reach that goal and provide guidelines for how they will work together. Some even provided links with resources to additional help.

Mutually beneficial pro bono relationships

Later in the Twitter chat we discussed who benefits from a pro bono project more: a nonprofit, volunteers, or the corporation. When I was first thinking about this subject I had immediately come to the conclusion that it was a win-win-win situation. However, some of our participants shed light on a few problems involved. I learned that yes, ideally pro bono projects should benefit all parties, but sometimes the needs of the company can overpower the needs of the organization.

On the other hand, those that successfully create a pro bono project allow for nonprofits to get what they need without having to pay for it, employees get to utilize and even sharpen their skills, and corporations increase their impact for good.

Planning a pro bono project

We also discussed how organizations can plan for pro bono projects. An important realization is that there isn’t one right process; each project is unique to the particular needs of the nonprofit and company involved. The planning team must be flexible and be willing to put in the hard work that goes into pro bono projects. In addition to this, it is equally important to know what kind of skills the community and the corporate employees have to offer.

There are a lot of different aspects that go into these projects, but the outcome is definitely worth it. A running theme throughout our Twitter chat was that these projects are unique and must be treated as such. There must be plenty of flexibility, research, communication and cooperation in order to have a successful outcome.

Overall, the first Twitter Talk Tuesday was incredibly helpful and gave me some insight as to how nonprofits and corporations come together for a pro bono project to help out those in need.

Be on the look out for our next Twitter Talk Tuesday! Keep the conversation going about pro bono volunteering using the hashtag #vmtalk. Tweet you soon!

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CSR Food for Thought: Employee Engagement Is Not A Fad

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



Skills-Based Volunteering: The New Executive Training Ground
Some believe a CEOs ability to build, develop and attract talent is the single most important thing they do as a leader. Some organizations are turning to the practice of skilled volunteering (sometimes internationally) to do all these things in one fell swoop, while also gaining benefits in the areas of R&D, business development and social impact.

Employee Engagement Is Not A Fad
Network for Good’s Kate Olsen wrapped all we truly believe in one headline: Employee Engagement Is Not a Fad. When done well, it can create deep, meaningful connections that help deliver business results, too.

The Value of Meaningful Work
We see many ties between our first three articles this week. This piece discusses the value of meaningful work – when employees can see how their work benefits customers, society and themselves. This brings us to the need for employee engagement (above) and one new method of engagement through skilled volunteering (also above). Read all three and you’ll be ready to make the case for more employee engagement in 2013 to anyone!

13 Conferences for 2013 – Plus 17 More!
Each year, we pinch our pennies and try to stretch them across as many CSR conferences as possible, limiting the scope to only the best out there. Luckily, our friends at Realized Worth have made narrowing the list easier with their top 13 conferences for 2013 – plus more in case those don’t strike your fancy. (Don’t miss the mention of the 2013 VolunteerMatch  Client Summit!)

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CSR Food for Thought: Empower Employees through Charitable Giving

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



Empower Employees through Charitable Giving
If you’re looking for an employee holiday gift with meaning, look no further than this list of creative ideas. Instead of a gift card, why not gift a charity gift card to support a cause each employee cares about? Replace a yankee swap with a toy drive for a local children’s organization. Can’t give a bonus? Offer an additional day off each year to volunteer instead!

Understanding ‘Engagement’ for Better Business: A Practical Approach
When talking about stakeholder engagement in CSR, we can’t overlook one critical component: Consent. This can be difficult to achieve, and requires a strong component of respect – but in the end, will help a company provide lasting, collaborative impact.

Twitter’s Manager For Social Innovation On How Social Is Shaping The Future Of Nonprofits
A great discussion of how social media is changing how we engage with causes, and how the power of giving time can sometimes be more powerful than giving money.

The Most Dynamic Social Innovation Initiatives of 2012
Susan McPherson outlines her list of the year’s most innovative social campaigns. Check them out, share your own, and get inspired to take 2013 by storm!

“Inspiring Our World” Engages MGM Resorts’ Employees in Culture, Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility
Our partner MGM Resorts took a creative approach to communicating its ongoing dedication to diversity and CSR to its 62,000 employees – a pep-rally style event reinforcing its commitments. Showcasing the talents of 70 different employee performers, this is a perfect example of a company using its unique culture and talents as a platform for discussing CSR.

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Resource Roundup: Inspiring Blogs About Hunger

Does your reading change the world?This month VolunteerMatch is focused on all the ways we can fight hunger. The blogs below are a great resource for exploring ways your company can get involved in the cause.

Feeding America Blog

Feeding America is the nation’s leading hunger relief organization. Their blog is run by Feeding America staff who are passionate about bringing awareness to the invisibility of hunger in America. This blog is a great place to learn more about their national outreach programs such as Hunger Child Corps and Hunger Study Research, as well as federal public policy programs such as SNAP and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP).

Notable post: Impact of Childhood Hunger on Health & Education

Action Against Hunger Blog

Action Against Hunger is an organization that is focused on responding to emergency hunger situations of war, conflict, and natural disaster. Their blog posts focus on current events, breaking news, advocacy and company partnerships. Read this blog if you’re specifically interested in international emergency relief efforts.

Notable post: Top Six Ways To Become A Savvier Social Supporter

Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility Blog

Cisco’s CSR blog is a great resource for companies who are looking to implement or improve employee volunteer programs. For example, take a look at their annual giving campaign, Global Hunger Relief, which has provided over one million dollars in aid to hunger relief organizations. Or read highlights from their 2012 CSR report.

Notable post: Cisco Employees Take On Global Hunger With Local Engagement

General Mills Company Blog

A Taste of General Mills is the official company blog. Their blog provides an inside look into sustainability, social innovation, philanthropy and community engagement programs. This blog is primarily run by members of the Corporate Communications team, with occasional appearances by guest bloggers and industry experts.

Notable post: Addressing Hunger Through Food Waste Reduction

Do you follow a great hunger-related blog? Tell us about it in the comments.

(Photo derived from work of Yassine Mrabet)

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CSR Food for Thought: The Latest Snapshot of Giving Trends

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
Corporate Philanthropy: The Latest Snapshot of Giving Trends
The annual Giving In Numbers report from Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) is a much-anticipated analysis of giving among Fortune 500 companies. While some may have braced for a slow year in corporate contributions, the results show a much sunnier outlook than expected. For more on the details of this report and a soon-to-be-released analysis of highly effective corporate volunteer programs, join us on January 22, 2013 for a webinar discussing the two studies.

BCLC’s ‘The Citizens’ Prove CSR is Just Good Business
Network for Good’s Kate Olsen recognized one common thread among this year’s nominees for BCLC’s Corporate Citizenship Awards – programs that are closely tied to business capabilities. We’re also tickled to see many of our corporate partners on the list of nominees.

Compelling Brand Purpose Must Guide Radical Innovation
Attendees and speakers at the 2012 Sustainable Brands London conference identified the need to stop focusing on short-term goals in order for CSR to truly align with business goals. As companies look to go beyond the current status-quo, many are taking a long terms view and focusing on innovation to bring about transformation.

Measuring Employee Volunteerism: Who Knows Your EVP Performance Best?
When surveying your employees about your corporate volunteer program, what can active volunteers help you understand vs. non-active volunteers? True Impact takes this questions to heart, showcasing what insights you can gain from each population.

Looking Ahead: Sustainability Trends for 2013
What will your company do in 2013 to encourage social, environmental and business sustainability? Taiga Company’s Julie Urlaub outlines 14 trends she foresees gaining traction in 2013. Social media for stakeholder engagement, employees become important program stakeholders, reliance on company rankings and surveys. Which of these are you prepared to take on?

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CSR Food for Thought: Evaluating CSR Programs

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


Evaluating CSR Programs: Lessons from The Civic 50

A couple of weeks ago we sang the praises of our 14 corporate partners that made it on The Civic 50, a list resulting from an evaluation of community engagement practices of the nation’s largest corporations. True Impact, a partner in the initiative outlines three guiding principles in program evaluation. Join us along with True Impact and Apollo Group on 12/3 for a free webinar diving into impact measurement in more detail.

Is Your Corporate Volunteering & Giving Program a Perk or a Revolution?
Realized Worth describes how engagement in corporate social responsibility programs are not a tradeoff for other engagement perks, such as free lunch or movie tickets.

Five Ways Your Company Can Avoid a Crisis Like Ikea’s
Every company is at risk of experiencing reputation-damaging crises. While there is no way to outright avoid these risks, there are ways to prepare in a way that will mitigate negative effects if and when they do occur. Check out this article, and also join a webinar with the Cause Marketing Forum on 12/13 about managing crises related to cause programs.

CSR, Profits ‘Closely Linked’
According to a report by Adam Friedman Associates indicates further proof that CSR and profits continue to be closely linked in the minds of business leaders. Specifically, 88 percent cited company reputation as a factor in CSR decision making.

CSR Reporting: Think Small
CSR reports are a great tool, but not easy to produce. One consultant offers advice for how you can distribute information about CSR, without wasting time or resources you may not have, by thinking small to start.

Engaged Employees: A Win-Win?
Consumers want companies to act more responsible, but these efforts cannot be siloed into one department. The demand today is to stretch beyond a one-dimensional approach to touch other stakeholders, such as employees and nonprofit partners.

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