2015 Corporate Volunteer Awards: A Look at Finalist MUFG Union Bank

On December 1, 2015, winners of the 2015 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards will be announced at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit in Oakland, CA. In this series of posts, I’ll introduce you to people and ideas behind the ten most effective employee volunteer programs in our family of corporate clients, determined by performance against four benchmark measures in 2014.

Southern CA volunteers at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park in 2015.

Southern CA volunteers at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park in 2015.

What makes your employee volunteer program special?

Our volunteer program has been a tremendous success over the years. Its formal inception was in 2009, and over 300 thousand volunteer service hours have been tracked. One reason for its success is that it is championed from the very top of the Bank. MUFG’s Sr. Executive Committee endorses employee volunteerism year-round, and supports the various campaigns (e.g. Financial Literacy Campaign, Global Volunteer Month) by requesting that business units submit annual volunteerism pledges.

What impact has your program had on your office or company as a whole?

Employees feel they can do more than just provide excellent service and products. They are given the opportunity to create change in the communities where they do business via hands-on volunteering such as teaching financial literacy, mentoring, tutoring, beautifying communities through clean-ups and tree planting projects, raising funds for health research, etc. Volunteering also provides the opportunity for team-building outside of the workplace, which in turn creates a positive and friendly work environment for our employees.

What are some volunteer-related accomplishments that you’re especially proud of?

Since the inception of the volunteer program, MUFG’s dedication to community outreach has grown exponentially. During the first two years of the program, volunteerism increased over 150%, and it has continued to increase over the years to this day. We are especially proud of the new Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policy approved in 2015, through which employees are provided 24 hours, or 3 working days, of VTO annually.

Seattle Branch volunteered during the 2015 MLK Day of Service

Seattle Branch volunteers during the 2015 MLK Day of Service

Do you have a volunteer-related story you’d like to share?

It has become more and more common for our branches to volunteer as a group during bank holidays. Even though employees are provided with paid time off to volunteer, they choose to continue donating their own time to the community. Last year, one of our Los Angeles offices gathered during Columbus Day to help plant flowers and pull weeds at one of the local low-income schools in the area. And earlier this year, one of our branches located in the Pacific Northwest also set the example by volunteering during the MLK Holiday.

Stay tuned for more finalist profiles in the coming weeks, and announcement of the winners on December 1, 2015 during the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit.

The Human Side of ROI: How to Qualitatively Measure Your Corporate Volunteer Program’s Impact

Guest post by Chris Martin

Corporate VolunteerThe era of employees clocking in at 9 a.m., completing their daily tasks, and then heading to physically clock out – and cognitively check out –  at 5 p.m. is over.

Work is intertwined with home life, and home life is carried into work each day. Technology has contributed to blurring the lines, but that seems to be the way we want it. Why? Maybe because more individuals are investing in their employer and taking pride in their organization’s brand – people actually want to be at work.

A huge contributor to this trend is employee volunteerism, which has risen steadily over the last decade. It’s a known fact that if you want the best talent you have to offer the best work environment, and lately, that means building an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP). People want to believe in what they do and more often than not this means giving your employees a chance to give back to their communities.

Now that EVPs are becoming a norm, the big question is: How do you measure ROI? Well, that depends largely on who you ask.

Using the 2 q's to measure ROI on your EVPIf you ask a handful of senior accountants to measure your EVP, they’re going to calculate every piece of data and crunch every number they can get their brilliant, mathematical hands on. This is important to a certain degree, but it only tells a portion of the story – the story of business logic. But to truly measure ROI from an EVP, you must also measure human emotion.

Why is human emotion so important when discussing employee volunteerism? Because the majority of volunteers have chosen where they wish to get involved (and where they work!) based on emotional and personal attachment, which far supersedes any type of measurement a quantitative assessment can show.

When you build an EVP, you (should) always include a piece about “movement”: Where you start and where you end up. The goal, in other words. This lets you easily “see” the difference your program has made.

And the difference is the key ingredient to a wholesome EVP that not only rewards your community and your organization, but also employees as well.

So, if numbers alone aren’t enough to show the true ROI of your EVP, then what else is there?

Partnering with a nonprofit and building an EVP brings huge branding wins for your organization, such as being seen as a responsible corporate citizen, increasing community exposure, and your employees who are also viewed as caring individuals. But that is old news.

How about the other major way of surveying things: qualitative measurements?

In case you’re of the old mindset that thinks businesses shouldn’t care about emotional and intrinsic motivations, consider that the qualitative ROI is heavily concerned with your employee retention. It’s the part that makes your employees more engaged; the part that builds on their productivity-related skills sets; and the part that lets management know who the real leaders are.

The best part is that it isn’t difficult; all you have to do is answer 3 simple questions.

  1. What difference has it made in your employee’s attitudes?

Ask your supervisors, and if you don’t have a direct supervisor who could easily speak to the uptake in positive office atmosphere, then make a point of contacting the employees directly and finding out – people respond well to honest questions. If you’re concerned that their responses might be skewed because of “Speaking to Management” syndrome, offer an anonymous survey. If you’re still worried people might think it isn’t anonymous, then you have to revisit the drawing board and build trust with your employees. If they won’t open up and provide you with qualitative data, you’re missing half the ROI picture.

  1. Who is volunteering the most?

Time to find your leaders, both current and future. 90% of Human Resources professionals say that pro-bono volunteering is an effective way to develop leadership skills. You want your employees to constantly be improving and learning. People seeking to continue building their skills are natural go-getters. Identifying the individuals who are excelling in your EVP is a great start to assessing who is going to be a long term, ready to promote employee.

  1. Do your employees feel that volunteering is making a difference?

The in-house goal of staff members gaining the multitude of benefits that volunteering brings results in:

  • Fewer sick days
  • Increased productivity
  • Enjoying time at work as they would time away from work, which loops back to less time off and more productivity

Yes, your PR and marketing efforts will also benefit (and that’s great news!), but the ultimate tell of whether or not your EVP is bringing in a positive ROI is in whether or not your employees are on board.

If they are, they will stop their constant job search and start investing in your organization.

There is no need to fret if your EVP hasn’t been measuring qualitative ROI yet. Remember that you’re still one of the wonderful organizations that is working to build stronger communities and happier employees. Then send this article to your HR department so they too can realize the benefit that qualitative assessments can bring.

About the author: Chris Martin is a former social worker and currently the Senior Marketing Coordinator for Charity Republic, a company specializing in promoting volunteerism and community engagement via accessible and efficient technology solutions.

2015 Corporate Volunteer Awards: A Look at Finalist Old National Bank

On December 1, 2015, winners of the 2015 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards will be announced at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit in Oakland, CA. In this series of posts, I’ll introduce you to people and ideas behind the ten most effective employee volunteer programs in our family of corporate clients, determined by performance against four benchmark measures in 2014.

What makes your employee volunteer program special?

Old National Bank’s program is called ONe Community (capital ON stands for Old National). The volunteer program is structured to balance the needs of the company’s communities and the engagement and development of its associates, with its core competency of financial literacy.

Old National Bank Associates Volunteering on Earth Day

Old National Bank associates spruce up South Bend, IN on Earth Day

Old National Bank has a strong commitment to financial literacy, not only because it’s a natural fit for the industry, but because we know the positive impact it can make. It allows the company to leverage skills-based and pro-bono volunteering while helping individuals make small (and sometimes large) changes that have helped them create a better future.

Just as each of the communities in which Old National Bank serves has specific needs, so do each of the participants in its financial literacy programs. For that reason, we partnered with the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) to create our own Real Life Finance program, which is a set of curricula that can be tailored to the needs of each individual or group. We also have a Financial Empowerment Officer who is there to help volunteers choose the best curriculum. This tailored approach allows Old National Bank to create both large and small partnerships and engage associates in the causes that interest them. It also allows them to work closely with the organizations that receive grants or sponsorship funding from the company.

What impact has your program had on your office or company as a whole?

Habitat Ag Build

Old National team at Habitat for Humanity Ag Build in Indianapolis.

Old National Bank is, first and foremost, a community bank. To us, a major part of being a true community bank is investing in our communities and empowering our associates to do the same. The idea of serving our communities is woven into the fabric and culture of our organization. Our ONe Community Volunteer Program provides the tools and support to promote networking and team-building for our associates and allows us to recognize them for their service.

What are some specific volunteer-related accomplishments that you’re especially proud of?

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of our ONe Community Volunteer Program. In celebration of this milestone, we held a 10 Weeks for 10 Years campaign. The campaign is kicked off during National Volunteer Week in April and ran the 10 weeks after. During this time, our regional Associate and Community Engagement (ACE) teams planned volunteer activities to promote networking and volunteer engagement and did so with great success. During the 10-week period, over 1,200 associates served over almost 19,000 volunteer hours!

Do you have an inspiring or fun volunteer-related story you’d like to share?

To kick off our 10 Weeks for 10 Years campaign, 14 members of Old National’s Executive Leadership Group donned hairnets to cook and serve dinner for more than 60 children followed by reading, games and other interactive activities at the Dream Center. The Dream Center serves at-risk youth by providing nutritional, educational and recreational activities.

Old National Bank Executive Leadership Team at the Dream Center

Old National Bank’s Executive Leadership Team members serve the dinner they prepared to youth at the Dream Center.

“Spending some time at the Dream Center with all the children was a wonderfully touching experience, said John Kamin, Chief Information Officer. “The Dream Center staff is tremendous. The energy, the passion and, quite frankly, the love the staff provides to the kids reminds you what is truly important in this world.”

Stay tuned for more finalist profiles in the coming weeks, and announcement of the winners on December 1, 2015 during the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit.

How VolunteerMatch Volunteers: Stephanie Hong, Engagement Manager

We’ve talked and talked (and talked and talked) about the benefits of employee volunteer programs, including volunteer time off (VTO). Now we want to show you. In this series of blog posts, we’ll interview some of our own employees to find out how they spend their volunteer hours, and why they love VTO.

VolunteerMatch employee Stephanie Hong and the puppies she's helping by volunteering.So, who are you?
Hi there – my name is Stephanie Hong and I am the Engagement Manager at VolunteerMatch! I am a Bay Area transplant who loves giving back to the place I now call home. Volunteering has been part of my life since I was 7 years old, and I am proud to work at an organization that promotes volunteerism.

Where do you volunteer?
With a background in marketing, I wanted to put my skills to good use. Many animal shelters in California are short staffed, especially for the City of Stockton Animal Shelter. In my spare time, I help manage their SEM (search engine marketing) and act as webmaster to keep their website up to date. It is extremely fulfilling to provide my expertise when they otherwise would not have staff for it.

And with a love for animals, I recently just started at Rabbit Rescue as a rabbit socializer! I spend 2 hours a week hanging out with rabbits to make them perfect pets. From just sitting with them to get them used to humans or playing with them to give them exercise, it is the perfect excuse to get out of the office and help animals in need!

What drew you to these organizations?
As you can tell, I have a soft spot for animals. Even as a young child, I wanted to be the voice for them. As I grew older and gained more professional talents, skilled volunteering is where I found the greatest reward. Utilizing my marketing skills for good AND playing with rabbits – now that’s volunteer heaven!

Parker the rabbit, from Rabbit RescueHave any fun stories to share?
At Rabbit Rescue, a handful of rabbits reside at the Petco in San Francisco. It is our duty as volunteers to get them ready to be the perfect pet. Many are sweet and outgoing, but you do get a few who are shy and afraid of humans.

One such rabbit was Jules. She would hiss whenever I tried to pick her up and there was no way she’d let a stranger pet her. One day, she escaped from her enclosure and I had to chase her around Petco like a maniac. Suddenly, a hero came along and swooped her up. I’d never seen Jules so happy to be in someone’s arms. Spoiler alert: the hero adopted Jules the weekend after.

Would you volunteer if VolunteerMatch didn’t offer VTO?
Since volunteering has been part of my life for so long, I would definitely still volunteer without VTO. Volunteering is something I enjoy making time for. Don’t get me wrong, VTO is amazing! It is one of the best employee benefits out there. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to devote as much time as I wanted to help organizations. The ability to take 8 hours a month during work hours to help others is a perk that shows your employer really cares.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Many people do not want to bring work home. But what if you were using your “work” to help a cause? That is why I think skilled volunteering is so important. Countless nonprofit organizations do not have the budget to hire for every skill. With skilled volunteering, professionals can set aside a few hours a month for specific tasks like graphic designing, programming, marketing, writing, accounting, etc. Next time you’re looking for a volunteer gig, consider using your professional skills to make a difference!

How VolunteerMatch Employees Volunteer: Tess Marstaller, Client Relations Associate

We’ve talked and talked (and talked and talked) about the benefits of employee volunteer programs, including volunteer time off (VTO). Now we want to show you. In this series of blog posts, we’ll interview some of our own employees to find out how they spend their volunteer hours, and why they love VTO.

Tess Marstaller, of VolunteerMatch, speaking about her time volunteering with the Peace CorpsSo, who are you?
I’m Tess, and I work on the Corporate Client Relations team here at VolunteerMatch. I help employees and CSR leaders use our tools to find, set-up, lead, and track volunteer activities.

Where do you volunteer?
I’m a member of the Northern California Peace Corps Association (NorCal PCA), which supports prospective, current and returned Peace Corps volunteers.

I’ve been volunteering with NorCal PCA for a couple of years. I’ve helped run workshops for newly returned Peace Corps volunteers transitioning back after two years abroad, spoken at public storytelling events about my time in Cameroon, and been on a few panels at schools and universities about what it’s like to serve in the Peace Corps.

What drew you to NorCal PCA?
Being a Peace Corps volunteer doing health education work in Cameroon was a hugely formative and direction-setting experience for me. When I heard there was a large and active association of returned volunteers in the Bay Area, it was one of the many perks that drew me to move across the country.

Tess leading a transition workshop for newly returned Peace Corps volunteers

Tess leading a transition workshop for recently-returned Peace Corps volunteers.

What is the most fun part of your volunteering? What’s the most valuable?
In the workshops I’ve run for recently-returned volunteers, stress melts into laughter as people share their quirky stories of what if feels like to be back home.

One now-friend told me she’d spit on the floor of a Walgreens out of a habit formed while living in Peru, but luckily had some toilet paper stocked in her purse: Another habit that’s hard to lose. Meanwhile I’d been forgetting to flush toilets and inappropriately snapping my fingers to get people’s attention. I burst out laughing, gave her a hug, and knew that I’d found my people.

Also, when I volunteer with this group, I feel like I’m honoring those who meant so much to me in Cameroon, and that makes me feel less far away from them now.

Would you be able to volunteer if VolunteerMatch didn’t offer VTO? Why or why not?
VTO has allowed me to respond to requests for volunteers during business hours, which is really helpful since our organization gets a lot of speaking requests from schools. I recently spoke at Berkeley City College on International Education day, and loved sharing photos and stories and answering questions from those interested in applying. Soon I’ll get to use VTO to speak to a group at my Alma Mater, GWU.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sometimes I start to convince myself that I’m too busy, or too tired, to volunteer. Then I remind myself that feeling tired can be largely in my own head. Volunteering can be like a chat with a best friend; even if I was tired going into it, I come out feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.

Finding a cause and a group that inspires you is truly a gift to yourself as much as to your community, which is why I’m proud to work for an organization that helps others explore how to find that joy.

How to Create a Stellar Employee Volunteer Program

VolunteerMatch Employees Greg Baldwin and Laura Ellis volunteering at the SF Marin Food BankIf your company currently has an employee volunteer program (EVP), that’s amazing! EVPs increase employee satisfaction and retention, and can be a key tool for recruiting top talent. A formal EVP also allows you to track results, so you can easily show the world your company’s impact. And our favorite part: implementing EVP tools simplifies your tasks, so you have more time to spend out in your community.

If you don’t have a formal program set up, you may be wondering, “Is now the right time?” To find out, ask yourself the following:

  • Are our consumers or business contacts asking what we are doing for our community?
  • Are we seeing an increase in the number of employees asking each other to support a charity?
  • Are we seeing an increase in the number of employees asking to volunteer?
  • Are we losing talented employees to the job market or having trouble retaining employees?
  • Am I or my coworkers spending a lot of time on volunteer event coordination?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, it’s time to consider a formal EVP program. We put together 5 easy steps to building a successful EVP to guide you through the process. Even if you already run a great EVP, you may find some new ideas.

Download the PDF: 5 Steps to Building a Successful Employee Volunteer Program.

How VolunteerMatch Employees Volunteer: Tessa Srebro, Content Marketing Associate

At VolunteerMatch, we’ve talked and talked (and talked and talked) about the benefits of employee volunteer programs, including volunteer time off (VTO). In this series of posts, we’ll interview some of our own employees to find out how they spend their volunteer hours, and how they benefit from VTO.

VolunteerMatch's Content Marketing Associate, Tessa SrebroSo, who are you?
I’m the newest member to VolunteerMatch’s Engagement Team. As content marketing associate, I make sure nonprofits, volunteers and companies know about us and how easy we make it for good causes and good people to connect.

Where do you volunteer and what do you do?
I’m a digitizer at the Internet Archive. Right now, my focus is CDs. I transfer audio files and artwork from the CDs to preserve them in the Internet Archive’s online collection.

What drew you to that particular organization and/ or type of volunteering?
Access to information for everyone is one of my core beliefs. When I met some of the Internet Archive team upon moving to San Francisco, their mission of building an all-encompassing, free virtual library was immediately appealing.

Many people see volunteering as a social activity – a way to meet people or bond with friends. And it certainly can be! However, as an introvert, I’m drawn to solitary volunteer activities, too. It’s a way for me to unwind while still making an impact. In the past, I re-shelved books at the small, quiet library in the Seattle Art Museum. At the Internet Archive, I can go into my own little world while archiving information. (This isn’t to say the people at the Internet Archive aren’t fun and amazing, because they truly are!)

What’s the most fun part of your volunteering? What’s the most valuable?
I love feeling like I’m a part of Internet Archive. I donate money to other nonprofits, but don’t feel very connected to those organizations, no matter how many thank you emails, program updates, or event invites I receive. Volunteering at the Internet Archive regularly makes me truly feel like I’m part of their organization. I get excited at their successes, and I’m a vocal advocate for their mission… or should I say “our successes” and “our mission”?

Internet Archive's headquarters, a former church.

Internet Archive’s headquarters, a former church.

Can you share a story from your time volunteering with Internet Archive?
In alignment with their mission of open-access to information, the Internet Archive opens their doors to the public every Friday for lunch. Each employee (and volunteer!) shares what they’re working on that week, and also any off-topic updates they want to offer the team. I try to coordinate my volunteer schedule to be there on Fridays so I can be part of this fun event. If you’re in the San Francisco area, you should stop by!

Would you be able to volunteer if VolunteerMatch didn’t offer VTO?
When I moved to San Francisco, before I started working with VolunteerMatch, I assumed I would have to stop volunteering once I found employment. (The Internet Archive is generally only open weekdays from 9-5). When I learned about VolunteerMatch’s generous VTO, I was ecstatic.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
VTO, in my opinion, is a huge draw for employee recruitment and retention. Would I still be working for VolunteerMatch if they didn’t offer VTO? Yes. But it certainly adds to both the pride and the gratitude I feel for my organization.