Help Us Represent You at SXSW

Vote for VolunteerMatch at SXSWWouldn’t it be awesome if employee volunteering and engagement were on the lips – and in the Powerpoint slides – of folks at one of the biggest social change conferences in the country?

Help us make this vision a reality! We’ve submitted session proposals to South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the premier events bringing together technology leaders and innovators in the social good space.

Here’s where you come in: You can help us by simply voting for the sessions below. It’s fast and easy (you’ll need to create a quick free login,) so it will take you less than five minutes to make a real impact on the employee volunteer engagement field.

Vote for these sessions now!

Social Good Smackdown: Online vs. Offline Impact

What’s better: 10,000 Facebook Likes or a group of dedicated volunteers? Join VolunteerMatch and Network for Good for a smackdown! It’ll be American Idol-style fun as two leading providers of cause engagement technology battle it out to see which method of social action is best for consumers, companies and causes: online or offline.

Under the Social Good Hood: Staying Power to Last

It’s easy to start a “social good” platform, right? Sure – anyone can do it! But how many “markets for good” like VolunteerMatch have lasted? Why not? Hear from a panel with Network for Good, VolunteerMatch, GlobalGiving, and TechSoup Global – four leaders (and survivors) in online social good entrepreneurship.

Back to the Future: Why Old CSR Trends are Hot Now

Here’s a dirty little secret: The latest craze of involving employees in your company’s social good efforts is something smart companies have done for years – and technology continues to make it easier and more effective. VolunteerMatch and Discovery Communications (producers of Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, etc.) will share the journey toward effective employee engagement and the role technology plays. Together we’ll go back to the future.

Once you’ve voted for the sessions above, take a look at these other sessions that have us excited:

What have we missed? Add you favorite session proposal here.

CSR Food for Thought: Is Volunteering Worth It?

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


Is Volunteering Worth It? The Economics of Generosity
Did you know that each hour of volunteering is valued at a whopping $21.79? This is a baseline valuation for the nonprofit sector, released each year by the Independent Sector. While some argue you can’t put a price tag on the real value generated by volunteering, our president, Greg Baldwin, discusses why this number is nonetheless important in garnering attention and tracking impact for this very important practice.

Agency Comes Up With ‘I Care’ Button For Social Media
Have you ever felt that “Like”ing a cause or issue on Facebook is counter-intuitive? Your dismay will soon be relieved with the release of the “I Care” button. Instead of “Like”ing the next natural disaster or a nonprofits call for action – why not show you care? DDB Worldwide will soon release embeddable code for all publishers to use the “I Care” call to action.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Best Content of Q1
If there’s one thing we love, its CSR news roundups. Especially when we’re included in it! Check out the best CSR finds from DeSantis Breindel, including a link to our January webinar about building a flexible and sustainable employee volunteer program. Want more? Download the full guide here!

Six Weeks to Become a Pro Bono Manager
Skilled volunteering – or pro bono, as some say – is one of the most valuable ways to give back. But it’s not as easy as showing up for a park cleanup – it requires planning and partnership. To get you started Taproot Foundations Aaron Hurst is publishing a 6-part series to take you through a step-by-step process to become an effective pro bono manager. Grab your pencils!

Webinar Recap: Building a Flexible – and Sustainable – Volunteer Engagement Program

Assess, Adapt, Evolve, RepeatIt’s clear that there is a growing connection between employee engagement and CSR, and Forbes Magazine even claimed this connection as a top CSR trend for 2012. The importance of volunteering, supporting causes and aligning them with your company’s culture is evident.

A great way to integrate these causes into your organization is to create a successful employee volunteer engagement program. But what program elements do you need to drive this success?

For the January edition of our Best Practices Network Webinar series, we talked with VolunteerMatch’s own expert, Vicky Hush, and invited Sue Osten from UnitedHealth Group and Erin Dieterich from Discovery Communications to speak about creating a flexible and sustainable program, and the fundamentals of successful employee volunteering.

Our Pro Bono Success Story

Don't we look pretty?

Notice anything… different about us?

That’s right, we’ve got a cool new look! Updated colors, some great drop shadowing, and high-tech buttons in the sidebar that link you to VolunteerMatch’s great employee engagement resources.

But the best part about our blog face lift is that we got it done by professional designers and coders for free – pro bono. VolunteerMatch was lucky enough to be chosen as a nonprofit grantee for the Discovery Impact: Creating Change pro bono marathon.

An impressive team of designers, copywriters and developers were dedicated to giving us the best volunteering blogs out there (they also worked on our blog for social change organizations, Engaging Volunteers).

The Pro Bono Disconnect

Pro bono is a valuable volunteer resource for nonprofits, and provides a way for corporate employees to get involved with causes they care about, hone their professional skills and become more engaged in company culture. However, the opportunity of pro bono is often overlooked by nonprofit and employee volunteer managers.

Taproot Foundation helps connect nonprofits with pro bono professionals that are looking to help. They also provide resources for both the organizations receiving the pro bono and the individuals giving it, to ensure the most effective and impactful project possible.

According to Taproot, only 3% of nonprofits report having access to the pro bono services they need. And only one out of the top 10 organizational priorities cited by nonprofit executive directors is NOT a direct fit for pro bono volunteer work.

Yet 29,983 LinkedIn profiles include the term ‘pro bono.’ And 20 of the top 25 business schools have pro bono programs. And many companies are starting to join Microsoft, who has committed 185,000 hours of employee time over three years to pro bono service.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between the nonprofits that need and could benefit from pro bono, and the individuals and companies that can and want to provide it. Organizations like Taproot, VolunteerMatch and Catchafire are on the front lines working to bridge this gap.

Our Pro Bono Success

Our pro bono experience was a great one, and not just because we got something so valuable for free. The Creating Change program provided value for both VolunteerMatch and our staff, as well as for the members of the Discovery Communications team that worked on the project.

On the VolunteerMatch side, we were able to further strengthen our relationship with Discovery Communications, who is not only a client but a great partner and friend in the volunteering sector. Our staff were exposed to a highly skilled and specialized team of professionals, gaining expertise in high level design projects.

The folks on the Discovery Communications team were able to use their skills for a good cause. The project gave them an opportunity to step outside their normal job function, as some developers served as copywriters and some designer served as project managers, etc. They also had the opportunity to interact directly with a nonprofit, learning about the challenges we face and the goals that drive us.

So think about how pro bono could increase the impact of your employee volunteer program– we have no doubt it could. Consider referring your employees to Taproot, or hosting an event like Discovery’s, or even approaching a local nonprofit with whom you already have a partnership to launch a pro bono program with them.

And a huge THANK YOU! to our pro bono team from Discovery Communications. Every time we open our blog, we will think of you.

How Employee Volunteering Took the Cake in 2011

How employee volunteering took the cake in 2011We’re lucky to be able to work with businesses like yours to promote employee engagement and impact. Here are some ways you helped us make 2011 the year of employee volunteering at VolunteerMatch:

New Clients

Over the course of 2011 dozens of new businesses joined the VolunteerMatch network of clients to take advantage of the VolunteerMatch Solutions employee volunteering tools and services. Welcome, everyone!

New Releases

With the release of our new and improved hours tracking tools, reporting employee hours became quicker, easier and more flexible. Additionally, employees can now set up their own hours tracking goals on their personal volunteering dashboard pages. We can’t wait to hear how the hours are stacking up!

We launched the Listing Wizard not just to aid nonprofits in posting great volunteer opportunities, but also facilitate skilled volunteering among your employees. Have you searched for opportunities based on your skill set?

You Made the Difference

This year 16% of visits to the VolunteerMatch network came through corporate channels – meaning one of your employees doing a search on your site. This is a great figure, especially since we know that corporate employees have a much higher rate of referral (actually signing up for a volunteer opportunity) than others. Stay tuned in 2012 for a more complete report of your impact.

Employee Volunteer Awards

In May we recognized the winners of the 2011 Corporate Volunteer Awards. This year’s winners, honored for their outstanding corporate volunteer engagement, were Discovery Communications, Hagerty Insurance, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Union Bank. Congratulations, and good luck in 2012!

VolunteerMatch Consulting

As a natural extension of the work we’ve been doing with corporations for over ten years, we’ve introduced a new service to help socially-minded companies looking to start or grow a volunteer program: VolunteerMatch Consulting Services.

Volunteering IS CSR

In order to promote volunteering as a critical piece of corporate social responsibility, we launched this blog in 2010. In 2011 there were over 32,000 views of our articles from people in all 50 states and 130 countries, making Volunteering is CSR one of the leading blogs on the Internet about volunteer engagement at companies.

Client Summit Blows Through Chicago

This year’s Client Summit took place in Chicago in May. Sponsored by Exelon, Allstate and Choice Hotels, the Summit brought together over 100 corporate clients, industry thought-leaders, and VolunteerMatch team members in celebration of employee engagement and corporate social responsibility. The excitement that infused the dynamic program showed how ripe corporate America is for our brand of CSR. (Click here for advance info about the 2012 Client Summit.)

What were some employee volunteering headlines from your year? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Execute the Perfect Pro Bono Marathon

Nonprofit attendees of the Creating Change day-long summit

There’s nothing like experiencing your clients’ work up close and personal. This is exactly what I was able to do last week while taking part in the second annual Discovery Impact Creating Change program.

Discovery Communications is a corporate client of VolunteerMatch Solutions and uses our tools to manage its employee volunteer program. (We also like to brag that the organization was inspired to develop the Creating Change program while attending our annual VolunteerMatch Client Summit.) The Creating Change event was so well executed that it’s worth profiling for others to learn from and apply to their own volunteer projects.

The Discovery program consisted of two parts: First, a 12-hour pro bono marathon, where 25 lucky nonprofits (including VolunteerMatch!) had the time and talent of the Discovery Communications staff applied to a creative project of their choice. Second was a summit, where nonprofits close to the Silver Spring, Md. corporate headquarters were invited to take part in a full day of workshops and speakers.

Great Examples of Social Media and Employee Volunteering

From recruiting to coordinating to showcasing impact, social media and volunteer engagement are a great match – perhaps because both are inherently social in nature. In this special series of posts based on discussions held at our 2011 Client Summit, we’re exploring the intersection of social media and employee volunteering.

Examples of social media and employee volunteeringIt’s unfortunately pretty hard to find examples of companies using social media as part of their employee volunteer programs, and even harder to find any that empower their employees to do so.

I managed to unearth a few for you that provide a look at how you can take advantage of this powerful tool and the difference it could make for your EVP.

Your hub for social media questions: Join the “Social Media and Employee Volunteering” discussion on LinkedIn.

Discovery Communications

The team at Discovery realized earlier than most that people are going to tweet about them, anyway. So they figured they might as well join in. They formed a team that deals with inappropriate employee tweets, but other than that, they’re able to just have fun with it.