CSR Food For Thought: A Look Back on National Volunteer Week

Image of wheat growing in the sun.The CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

In case you missed it, last week was National Volunteer Week. I was blown away by the amount of companies that celebrated by giving back to their communities and recognizing their employee volunteers. Here is just a sample:

Celebrating National Volunteer Week by Contributing to a Better Future
This heartfelt post from AT&T employee Monique Weber illustrates how volunteering changes lives on both an individual and a global scale. AT&T has allowed her to pursue her personal volunteer passion of empowering women leaders. As Monique puts it, “I’m thankful to work for a company that promotes such important, impactful programs.”

4 Benefits of Volunteering as a Company
In this LinkedIn post, Alison Grenkie of Intelex Technologies explains why National Volunteer Week isn’t just for nonprofit organizations to recognize their volunteers. From employee happiness to enhanced company reputation, it’s easy to see why companies should get involved. After all, “The company that volunteers together stays together.”

Volunteers – A Critical Contribution to Our Communities
Microsoft used National Volunteer Week as an opportunity to thank its motivated employee volunteers, who recently spearheaded the creation of the Tech Talent for Good program with their question, “How can we do more?” This post is full of appreciation – just the way we like it!

5 Reasons Why Green Volunteering is Red Hot
Picking up trash doesn’t sound very glamourous. But when it’s done with coworkers? The benefits can be astounding. In this post, Verizon employee Abigail Ashley explains the benefits she sees from volunteering with her coworkers, both personally and professionally.

Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

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CSR Food For Thought: Is Your CSR Social?

Image of wheat growing in the sun.The CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of relevant news from around the web that you may have missed last week, presented to you in one bite-sized blog post every Monday. Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week: @VM_Solutions.

CSR and Social Media: How to Amplify Your Communication Efforts
Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship explores the question, “What is the key to successfully promoting your CSR efforts on social media?” One idea we especially love: Encouraging your employees to talk about the company’s CSR, especially their role in it! Check out this post for more ideas, and a recap of the who, what, how and why of social media and CSR.

Wells Fargo Offers Free Financial Education During Military Saves Weeks
Today kicks off Military Saves Week, and Wells Fargo employees will be volunteering their skills in an innovative way: By hosting free virtual webinars for military families. Topics include advice for first-time homebuyers, managing credit, and creating budgets. Oh, and Wells Fargo also offers free financial literacy courses throughout the year through their Hands on Banking program – a great example of cause-focused CSR.

Final Days to Enter the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival
What’s your CSR story? Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship invites you to share it in a three minute video for this year’s Corporate Citizenship Film Festival. This post on 3BL Media covers all the details, but the most important thing is: The deadline is this Friday 2/27, so don’t wait!

Your #1 Stakeholder: Building a Giving Strategy through Your Employees
Your employees play a dual role: They are part of your company, and they are part of their own communities. Corporate volunteerism and giving is the bridge that connects these two roles. This post from Realized Worth looks at why it makes sense to use this connection to increase the impact of your CSR program. How? By involving your employees in your company’s CSR strategy.

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CSR Food For Thought: A New Professional Norm

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.

This week’s roundup focuses on the shifting landscape of employee engagement, professional volunteerism, and product development.

10+ Million Professionals on LinkedIn Make Social Impact Part of Their Identity [Infographic]
Three years ago, LinkedIn added a “Volunteers and Causes” section to their user profiles. Fast forward to today: Over 10 million professionals list some sort of cause-affiliation, and 4 million indicate that they are interested in volunteer opportunities (which they can conveniently find with the help of LinkedIn’s partnership with VolunteerMatch!) Check out this infographic on LinkedIn’s blog to find out who these cause-focused professionals are.

Remembering the Value of Volunteerism
Is CSR as an industry, complete with metrics and measurements, getting in the way of the original CSR vision? In this CSRwire post, Peter Dudley of Wells Fargo posits that the best company-sponsored volunteer programs focus on the employees, not on the bottom line. The latter follows later as an added benefit.

How Millennials Are Changing Product Development for Good
In the not-so-distant past, the driving factor behind business decisions was cost. This Wired article argues that with the rise of millennials in both management and consumer roles, the status quo is shifting. Renewable energy, local patronage and employee care are no longer options; they’re simply a part of doing business. Do you agree?

The Untapped Power of Employee Engagement
This Green Biz article boldly asks, “What’s the next frontier in sustainability?” Their answer: Employee engagement. If we want to make real progress for our planet, every single member of a company needs to change their actions. The responsibility of the corporate leaders has shifted from isolated sustainable business decisions to encouraging and facilitating their employees’ sustainable decisions.

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CSR Food For Thought: How an Employee Volunteer Program Saves You Money

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.

The Business Case for Employee Volunteer & Skills Giving Programs
In this post from Charities@Work, Sarah Ford dives deep into how employee volunteer programs (EVPs) can boost employee retention. She touches on the top 10 reasons people leave their jobs and explains how employee volunteerism can help with each one. But she doesn’t stop there – she’s got the numbers to back it up. This post is well researched, and well worth the read.

What is the REAL Employee Engagement Definition? [Video]
Entrepreneur and author Kevin Kruse wants to make sure “everyone is on the same page” when it comes to an employee engagement definition. He starts by explaining what employee engagement is NOT – it’s not just satisfaction and it’s not just happiness. Well then, what is it? Find out in this short video.

CEOs Sign OIWC Pledge to Advance Women’s Leadership in the Outdoor Industry
Change often starts at the top, according to this article from SocialEarth. That’s why the CEO of REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), along with 13 other CEOs of outdoor companies, signed a pledge to promote women’s leadership. The REI Foundation went a step further by granting $1.5 million to OIWC (Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition) for mentorship and entrepreneurship programs.

How Can Brands Build a Culture of Responsibility?
This CSRwire post advocates for a shared CSR vision between employees, shareholders, and customers. It suggests that companies shift their values from consumerism to citizenship, and perhaps shift their focus from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to creating shared value (CSV). Don’t let the acronyms intimidate you – this post includes some interesting perspectives on what it means to be a company in our changing world.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: Build Support for Your Program with Employee Champions

Guest post by: Daniella Lippert

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: REorganize: Building Support Through Champions.

Photo of Wendy Hershey, Daniella Lippert, and Annalisa Amicangelo

Presenters from left to right:
Wendy Hershey – Principal, Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc.
Daniella Lippert – Program Manager, Volunteering & Engagement, CSR, Marsh & McLennan Companies
Annalisa Amicangelo – Manager, CSR, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s consciousness; it brings awareness to the inner connectivity of people, communities and companies. It’s great that VolunteerMatch clients have an opportunity to share insights and best practices. The things we learn from each other help us better leverage our business resources, assets, and procedures. They also help us continue to influence the companies we work for and to increase our positive impact in the community.

During my breakout session, I covered the topic of engaging volunteer champions within a large global organization. At Marsh & McLennan Companies, our CSR department has a twofold approach. We start with a top-down effect from corporate. Then, each operating company has a grassroots approach – they can “flex their muscles and creativity” to engage colleagues in a way that’s tailored to their individual company’s brand. The main points I focused on in the session were:

  1. Establishing a clear mission, a clear strategy, and clear goals.
  2. Creating programs, policies, and platforms that can be used across the company.
  3. Implementing incentives to volunteer.
  4. Using VolunteerMatch’s reporting function for quarterly reporting, goal setting, and evaluating.

Our CSR team supports our company’s global community, which includes offices in more than 130 countries with over 55,000 employees worldwide. Because our CSR team is relatively small, we have to be thoughtful, creative, and strategic when engaging colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures.

Our company focuses on helping communities through education and disaster preparedness/ recovery. We select nonprofit partners, and then conduct strategic fundraising campaigns and employee volunteer initiatives. Our mission provides a clear direction on what the CSR department supports, as well as what we don’t support.

By focusing our energy we can see: Better alignment with our company’s brand, increased colleague engagement, and greater social impact.

It’s important to recognize employees who are taking the time to give back their community. Our company has created fun ways to recognize and reward exceptional volunteers for tracking their community involvement on VolunteerMatch. For example, this year, our company will give the top “Walk/Run for a Charitable Cause” leaders an opportunity to win a Fitness Fitbit-Activity tracker. This is a great way to encourage employees to organize walks/runs that support their local nonprofit organizations, and to include their colleagues.

In 2013, Marsh & McLennan Companies increased engagement significantly, doubling both our volunteer hours and employee participation rate. Tracking volunteer engagement has allowed our CSR team to establish metrics and internal benchmarking. Establishing volunteer goals and creating targeted communications to increase awareness can spur healthy competition that drives engagement. Another advantage of reporting is the ability to identify cause areas, types of volunteering, and programs that motivate our employees.

For more information on building support through champions, view the slides from this session.

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2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Insights: A Swedish REflection

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: A Swedish REflection.

Guest post by Anna Snell, Volontärbyrån

Anna Snell chats with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch staffer and emcee of the VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Anna Snell (left) chats with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch staffer and emcee of the VolunteerMatch Client Summit.

Two months have passed since the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit, but Detroit stays with me. What an inspiration it was to be bused around the city, seeing what we are capable of achieving when we come together, devoting time and passion in the effort to create a better life for ourselves and each other.

Detroit’s journey back on track reminds me of the history of volunteering in Sweden, where I come from. It goes back to the 19th century, when Sweden was a very poor country. A third of the population emigrated (most of them to the United States), and the people that were left behind took it upon themselves to create a brighter, healthier and more equal society.

Initiatives like dental care, libraries, health care for children and home visits for the elderly came about around this time – things that volunteers and nonprofit organizations created. Responsibility for things have since been taken over by the state and are now largely tax-funded, but the appetite for organizing ourselves and volunteering has remained.

Volontärbyrån is VolunteerMatch’s Swedish cousin, and we have been exchanging insights from our respective countries for years. Volontärbyrån rests on the same firm foundation as VolunteerMatch, the drive to make it easy for people to volunteer and to support nonprofits in finding volunteers.

In Sweden, corporate volunteering isn’t as widespread as it is in the U.S. However, volunteering in general in Sweden is very popular, with every other Swede devoting on average 16 hours per month to volunteering. Companies are catching on to the fact that encouraging volunteering among their staff isn’t just a great way of involving staff in the company’s CSR activities and employer branding, it’s also beneficial to the well-being of each individual who participates.

I manage Volontärbyrån’s corporate partnerships, and came to the VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit in order to get inspired, take home some ideas and to network. And I wasn’t disappointed! I met some really great people, from the dedicated VolunteerMatch staff to passionate company coordinators as well as inspiring nonprofits. I took home lots of ideas and advice to our partners about what a successful internal infrastructure for a volunteer program looks like, how to create visibility around volunteering, and different ways to measure the success of a volunteer program.

Thank you, VolunteerMatch, for enabling all of us to network and exchange insights and ideas like this, in our joint efforts to connect people with great causes!

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Encourage Your Employees to Be Like Batman (or Woman)

Your employees can help us create more superheroes by donating to VolunteerMAtchVolunteers are like superheroes. They use their time, skills and passion to save the world. Shouldn’t EVERYONE have the chance to make a difference for what they care about most?

With that in mind, we’re doing something different this holiday season at VolunteerMatch. And we’re hoping you and your employees will want to be a part of it.

We’ve joined the CrowdRise Giving Tower Holiday Challenge, a friendly fundraising competition that is taking the power of donations to new heights – literally. During the holiday season this year, and especially on #GivingTuesday, we’ll be reaching out to our members to donate to VolunteerMatch.

What’s great about this Challenge is that there are multiple ways to get involved. After all, giving back is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking.

Volunteers are like superheroes - and your employees can donate to help us create more of them!In addition to donating, your employees can easily participate by becoming volunteer fundraisers. This is a great way for any employee, no matter their role or schedule, to get involved in the community.

It’s super easy – all they have to do is go here and click ‘Fundraise for This Campaign.’ In seconds, they can set up their own fundraising page to share with everyone they know.

If creating more superheroes sounds like a good fit for your company, then please spread the word to employees and encourage them to donate and become volunteer fundraisers.

With your help, we will build a network of volunteer superheroes that will make anything possible – even a tower to the moon!

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