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.

Continue reading

The Important Thing We Can Learn From MUFG Union Bank

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: MUFG Union Bank.MUFG Union Bank Volunteers at JA Finance Park 2014

The employees at MUFG Union Bank, or MUB, recognize something important. A concept so important that it’s the driving force behind Pro Bono Week. They recognize that volunteering their specialized professional skills is one of the most impactful contributions they can make to society. That’s why they created their annual Financial Literacy Campaign. During this three-month campaign, employees go out into their communities to teach financial education. They make presentations and facilitate workshops that equip their neighbors with skills to manage their own finances. In 2014’s campaign, MUB employees volunteered over 4,200 hours to this awesome pro bono endeavor.

But it doesn’t stop there. These amazing folks do pro bono work year-round with nonprofit partners in their communities. While the focus is financial education, employees offer their skills in all kinds of areas. All in all, MUB employees have tracked 42,000 volunteer hours this year alone.

Looking for an easy way to track your company’s pro bono impact? Visit VolunteerMatch Solutions today to get started.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

4 Easy and Creative Ideas for Engaging Employees in Skilled Volunteering

Our recent announcement of a new partnership to automatically post all skilled volunteer listings from the VolunteerMatch network to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace has shed a serious spotlight on the importance and potential of skilled volunteering. Check out this special series of posts exploring skilled volunteering as a category, a strategy, an industry and, of course, an inspiration for greater impact.

Easy and creative ideas for engaging employees in skilled volunteering.

A Making Music Matters volunteer and student prepare for a talent show. What skills do your employees have to give?

Now that connecting with skilled volunteering opportunities just became even easier for you and your employees, and now that there are tools out there, like those from VolunteerMatch Solutions, to help you manage and track skilled volunteer activities within your company, you may only have one more question:

How do you get your employees excited about skilled volunteering?

 

 

First step is to think like them – what sorts of opportunities are they really looking for? Here are some ideas for skilled volunteering projects that will be sure to jazz up large chunks of your employee population – no matter what strange and unusual skills they may have developed.

Pro Bono Programs

There is always the option to build or improve on a formal pro bono program at your company. Even within a program like this, there are ways to make things more exciting. For example, take a cue from Discovery Communications and their annual Discovery Impact: Creating Change pro bono marathon.

And with tools like YourMatch and MobileMatch to help you organize and track large-scale events like marathons, hackathons and days/weeks/months of service, it will be easy to aggregate and showcase the impact of these programs both internally and externally.

Focus on Other Skills

Just because your engineers spend their days coding doesn’t mean they don’t have other useful skills. For example, they might actually be great writers, or excellent project managers. At VolunteerMatch, several of our staff members volunteer at the San Francisco Public Library each month teaching a free workshop about using LinkedIn for job searching and career development.

Combine Skilled Volunteering with “Relaxing Time”

Volunteering doesn’t have to be all work and no play, and skilled volunteering doesn’t have to be all professional skills, either. Form a knitting club during breaks and lunch to knit sweaters for shelters or animals. Connect employees with groups like 826 or Girls on the Run so they can donate non-professional, “fun” skills (and be sure to suggest they use their Volunteer Time Off!)

Ask Your Employees!

With tools like VolunteerMatch’s Opportunity Builder, employees can suggest their own volunteer projects for your approval. So spread the word that you’re looking for skilled volunteering ideas. I bet the suggestions will come pouring in, which will only make your job easier and more fun…

What are some fun, creative ways you’ve engaged employees in skilled volunteering? Share in the comments below!

Continue reading

The Global, Cross-Sector Potential of a Future with Skills-Based Volunteering

Our recent announcement of a new partnership to automatically post all skilled volunteer listings from the VolunteerMatch network to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace has shed a serious spotlight on the importance and potential of skilled volunteering. Check out this special series of posts exploring skilled volunteering as a category, a strategy, an industry and, of course, an inspiration for greater impact.

The Global, Cross-Sector Potential of a Future with Skills-Based VolunteeringDuring my five years at VolunteerMatch, skills-based volunteering (SBV) has become firmly embedded in the world of corporate volunteerism and CSR. Groups like Taproot, PYXERA Global and A Billion+ Change have helped lead the charge, and events like the Conference on Volunteering and Service devote sessions to skills-based and pro bono volunteering, along with sessions on corporate-nonprofit partnerships viewed through the skills lens.

Of course, VolunteerMatch has always been a place for nonprofits to post, and individuals to find, skilled volunteering opportunities. We’ve produced a number of webinars and best practice blog posts on the topic over the years, and collaborated with Microsoft and Taproot on a nonprofit skills taxonomy which helps our partners find the skilled help they need.

All of this is great news, as SBV benefits corporations, employees, nonprofits, and ultimately our communities and world at large. It provides employees with a sense of pride – in themselves, their skills, and the company. This leads to higher morale, retention, and professional development on the job front, and a greater sense of overall purpose.

SBV provides companies with employees who are more engaged, aids in recruiting top talent who want a chance to be creative and challenged, and encourages team-building and cross-functional projects. It also gives companies a larger reach in the community in a more strategic and impactful way, while furthering brand reputation and local relationships. Finally, it provides nonprofits with resources they critically need to be become sustainable, expand their reach, and allow them to do the work they’re best prepared to execute on.

The march is on, and with the recently announced partnership between LinkedIn and VolunteerMatch, I think we’re ready for another leap. Here’s why:

I’ve worked with dozens of companies and their employee engagement programs (and our team here has worked with over 200), and while there are a number of high flying, SBV-focused companies like Morgan Stanley, Discovery, Netsuite and Charles Schwab, there are many more that don’t have a formalized SBV program. There are even some that don’t have any at all (at least to the program coordinator’s knowledge).

Despite all of the talk about SBV stressing the benefits above, I’m not sure that the industry has found a way to make engaging employees in SBV actionable and scalable. Creating various models of SBV, from hackathons to short-term engagements to overseas excursions, takes significant investment from a company, let alone from nonprofits which need to be able to support such volunteering and partnerships.

This new partnership, however, changes the equation. So allow me to gaze into the future and make some predictions about SBV along the nonprofit, employee, and corporate fronts, predicting what might happen and what needs to happen in the process of growing this model.

The Nonprofit Future with Skills-Based Volunteering

Knowing that they can reach hundreds of millions of professionals on LinkedIn (along with millions of annual visitors to VolunteerMatch), our nonprofit partners will give more thought to using skilled volunteers, and will take advantage of our project listing flow’s ability to select and highlight skills through the aforementioned taxonomy.

But when I say ‘thought’, I mean ideally some serious reevaluation and reflection. Think about this: what if a nonprofit dreams its biggest dreams and can have all the skilled help it needs? What if there were more allies out there than they imagine – what would they do? Could they save some money in the budget by allocating time to committed, long-term volunteers rather than dollars that would otherwise go to more expensive vendors or contractors? Can they take on new challenges in their community they wouldn’t be able to have done previously due to a lack of skills/budget/resources? In other words, can SBV make nonprofits more fiscally efficient and creative, while also having a bigger impact?

During this process, we’ll also need to see nonprofits considering their ability to manage skilled volunteers and evaluate whether they have the capacity to spend the necessary time scoping and implementing a project plan. They will need to learn more about SBV, more about how corporations works – to take a more proactive role in order to create a deeper kind of relationship than traditional, one-off volunteering. This will pay off big. Not only can they receive help on the programmatic side, but guess what: volunteers are more than 10X as likely to become donors, to tell their network about the nonprofit’s cause, and to open a channel to corporate grants, dollars for doers, and matching gifts.

The Employee Future with Skills-Based Volunteering

On the employee front, more nonprofits posting SBV projects means greater variety. Projects will become not only easier to find, but will exist on a spectrum of levels of engagement to match an employee’s schedule and interests. It should be noted that skills don’t need to match the most common ones talked about (finance, marketing, project management, etc.), but could include interpersonal or creative skills that may not be directly related to their jobs, but come out naturally in their personalities or are waiting to be discovered if the right post comes along.

These postings will also let them try something new, to get out of a rut, to grow and be creative. And here’s a quiz: guess which employee population has some skills, but could stand to expand them with experience, and who generally prioritize using said skills to do good in the world? Yes, it’s our industry’s obligatory Millennial plug, a population ripe for engaging with SBV along a spectrum.

Most important when thinking about this from the employee side is the connection to the community, and parts of it they may not be aware of. They can really see the difficulty of the issues nonprofits deal with, and gain a better sense of place and understanding. This depth of learning doesn’t come as easily with short, traditional volunteering projects, plus the tangible difference they make is significantly larger and longer lasting. Once employees see that, it could inspire them to do even more. So with an increase in SBV availability, I think we’re also in store for a concurrent rise in empathy and engagement.

The Company Future with Skills-Based Volunteering

On the company front, SBV projects will begin to appear more frequently in VolunteerMatch portals and on the Web in general. So, if the company doesn’t have the resources to structure a formal SBV program, they can point employees to find them on their own knowing that such activities lead to a happier, more engaged workforce.

Companies will be able to track and report on employees who sign up for SBV, and based on those reports, perhaps start to structure a program that fits employees’ interests, leading to a formal SBV program. They’ll take better note of metrics in terms of dollar values, knowing that SBV leads to a greater SROI than traditional volunteering.

I can also see companies adding a field to their employee profile/registration page on VolunteerMatch to collect skills from employees, to see what they can and want to do. Companies can also take the initiative to upload a set of general parent skills based on the employees’ department (IT, Marketing, HR, Accounting) and, in a sense, do some reverse matching, and send out customized emails to different types of employees pointing them to specific search results.

We’ll soon see a rise in companies considering the following questions: What skills do your employees have? How much time do you have to manage them and work with the nonprofit? Do you have buy in from senior staff in both places? Should you have PTO available for this work? Can you brand your SBV program (always a good idea!)? If you currently have nonprofit grantees, should you build something into the contract to have your grantee create skilled volunteering opportunities for your employees? Can you pair senior and junior staff members on a project, and/or work to match an employee with their counterpart at the nonprofit?

And, the juiciest question for me: what can your company learn from listening to and working with nonprofits, the people on the ground – perhaps different business practices, or money saving ideas?

In any event, companies should keep in mind that it’s always smart to start small and build up the program organically – the last thing we want to do is force any kind of volunteering, especially SBV, down employees’ throats, let alone the throats of nonprofits. SBV is one part of a portfolio, and can be a lot of fun (hackathons, competitions, marathons…) as well as providing significant value. Remain flexible and remember that some employees may even want a change of pace when it comes to their volunteering and want to do something that has nothing to do with their day jobs.

In conclusion: SBV has the potential to change the typical corporate-nonprofit dynamic, because the relationship is much deeper than traditional volunteering. Individuals really get to know one another and their challenges through this investment, and can exchange ideas and see the talents on both sides. After all, we’re all part of the same community.

We’re moving from a one-way to a two-way street of mutual learning, and knowing that your company is leveraging all it can to contribute helps answer the “why?” of your employee volunteer program, and provides the stories and heart to what you’re doing.

I’m looking forward to the next five years and am excited to see all of the ways SBV develops, thrives, and changes all of our lives for the better.

How is your company leveraging skills-based volunteering to create a better future? Tell us about it!

Continue reading

Meeting the Challenges of Global Employee Volunteerism

Meeting the Challenges of Global Employee VolunteerismThe trend toward taking employee volunteer programs global has been growing for years. And as we announced in April, VolunteerMatch is going global as well, piloting its employee engagement solutions outside the U.S. for the first time. The initiative will begin in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and we are evaluating additional countries and regions.

As part of VolunteerMatch’s commitment to serve our clients with overseas locations, we were pleased to sponsor LBG Associates’ research on global employee engagement. For the report, “Global Employee Engagement: Challenges and Solutions,” LBG Associates interviewed 36 multinational corporations about the issues they encountered taking their programs overseas and the solutions that have worked for them.

LBG Associates determined that the three biggest challenges global companies face are:

  • Managing a global employee engagement program
  • Vetting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outside the home country
  • Paying small, employee-directed grants

The report also identified challenges and solutions that are unique to specific employee engagement programs, such as volunteerism, workplace giving, Matching Gifts and Dollar for Doers programs.

With respect to volunteerism, one of the many challenges highlighted was the difficulty companies have finding appropriate NGOs to provide volunteer opportunities for employees. Although local employees can provide insight into different potential partners, the company still has to vet an NGO to make sure it is what it claims to be.

A potential solution, according to the report, is to use third parties like VolunteerMatch to source volunteer projects. To quote the report, “Third parties can be extremely useful, as they likely know the community, the issues and the nonprofits better than the company. They aren’t driven by personal passions, family relationships, political leanings or other factors that can skew employee-sourced volunteer projects.”

Another important point from the research is that companies have to make sure that NGOs are actually ready to host volunteers. In some countries, nonprofits are unfamiliar with the concept of employee volunteers and don’t understand what volunteers can do for them. The report has a handy checklist to assess NGO readiness.

The highlights of the report will be presented at a webinar on July 16, 2014 at 1 PM Eastern.

You can register for the webinar or get the full report at www.lbg-associates.com or by calling LBG Associates at 203-325-3154.

Continue reading