CSR Food For Thought: #MakeTodayMatter for a Better Tomorrow

Stack of NewspapersThe 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.

 

 

Bank Pays for Customers’ Volunteer Projects to Inspire More Good Deeds
We’ve all heard about companies aiding and encouraging their employees’ volunteer efforts. But what about their customers’? This Huffington Post article highlights TD Bank’s creative way to give back – by funding the community projects of selected customers. The stipulation? They had to complete their projects in 24 hours to #MakeTodayMatter.

Corporate-Giving Effort Aims to Expand Giving Tuesday
If your company participated in #GivingTuesday this year – that’s wonderful! Many great nonprofits are truly thankful for the support they receive on this new(ish) holiday. There are some companies, however, that are pledging to take #GivingTuesday even further, according to this feature in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. By 2015, will 500 companies make the pledge to donate 1-1-1? That’s 1% of their equity, 1% of their employees’ time, and 1% of their products. What do you think?

November Corporate Citizenship Highlights
Happy December! While we look ahead to the holidays, let’s also look back on the CSR accomplishments from last month. From Google’s matching donations for fighting Ebola to companies staying closed on Thanksgiving to give employees time with their families, November was certainly an eventful month in the world of CSR. In this post, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship discusses some of the accomplishments. What would you add to the list of November corporate good deeds?

CVS Celebrates #GivingTuesday and Colleague Volunteerism by Awarding $100,000 to 50 Nonprofits Nationwide
The employees at CVS Health volunteer for some great community organizations. So, when #GivingTuesday rolled around, it was a perfect fit to donate to the organizations company employees hold dear to them. Employees were invited to nominate an organization they volunteer for to win one of 50 grants from the CVS Health Foundation. Read their press release on 3BL Media for more information and the full list of grantees.

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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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Mobilize Employee Champions for #GivingTuesday

It may come right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but #GivingTuesday is all about giving back to the causes we care about most. And volunteering can be a great way to do that. And engaging employees in #GivingTuesday initiatives is a great project to add to your company’s calendar.

Building on the buzz and energy of #GivingTuesday can help your company increase impact and support for the causes you support. This webinar discusses ways for you to do exactly that.

Join speakers from #GivingTuesday, Salesforce Foundation and VolunteerMatch for this special webinar to talk about ways you can organize your networks of family, friends, or coworkers to make a big difference for your cause on #GivingTuesday.

You are more powerful than you realize – and by mobilizing your employees to be volunteer champions, you can harness that power to help the causes your company supports, and that you care about.

Watch the webinar on YouTube.

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The Value of Giving Back: 1st Source Bank

It’s Pro Bono Week 2014! Join us in celebrating the amazing volunteers who donate their professional skills to great causes. This week’s final featured company: 1st Source Bank.1st Source Bank Volunteers at Super Saturday

As many a cheesy song or cliché politician has reminded us, the children are our future. As it turns out, kids are pretty smart already. The nonprofit Junior Achievement knows this, which is why they teach entrepreneurial and financial skills to children.

Also, as it turns out, professional bankers know quite a bit about finance. This is why 1st Source Bank partnered with Junior Achievement to put their pro bono thoughts into actions. 31 bank employees recently spent a day at an elementary school introducing children to financial literacy. Bank employees called the experience valuable for them – not just the kids!

1st Source Bank also participates in other pro bono activities, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Super Saturday (pictured above), where they partner with the United Way to offer tax preparation and filing for free. Giving back to their community is one of 1st Source Bank’s core values, which is evident in the fact that over 45% of their employees are active volunteers. Last year, employees volunteered 27,000 hours, equal to about $600,000. Talk about giving back!

Thank you to 1st Source Bank and the other companies that engage in pro bono work. You truly are role models. Pro Bono Week 2014 may be coming to an end, but we don’t want the momentum to stop! VolunteerMatch makes it easy to set up your own employee volunteer program and encourage pro bono work. Find out how.

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Challenge Your Employees to Go Pro Bono: A Lesson from Morgan Stanley

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: Morgan Stanley.Volunteers from the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge

Morgan Stanley doesn’t just encourage its employees to volunteer. It challenges them. The Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge pairs some of the company’s best workers with 12 nonprofits for eight weeks. During this time, the groups work together to assess and improve the nonprofits’ business and financial strategies. The final result is a plan complete with tangible next steps and tools for future success. The results are invaluable, but if you had to put a price on it, it would be… $6.8 million. This five-year total is equivalent to 45,000 hours of pro bono work.

But it’s not just the nonprofits that benefit. Morgan Stanley employee David Kosh, who participated in the program in 2013, claims the experience was “eye-opening, educational and inspirational”. He learned about the nonprofit sector, gained professional connections, and improved his own skills. Pro bono work, along with other types of volunteering, is truly a win-win arrangement.

Want to be the next Morgan Stanley in terms of pro bono excellence? Visit VolunteerMatch Solutions to learn how to get your company’s employees volunteering.

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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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