Meet Annalisa Amicangelo, a 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit Speaker

On September 18-19, 2014, VolunteerMatch will gather its corporate clients for a day and a half of learning, sharing and networking. The 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit will feature numerous sessions led by corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement thought leaders. In this series of posts, we’ll introduce you to each of the speakers and what they’ll discuss at the Summit.

AnnalisaName: Annalisa Amicangelo

Title: Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility

Organization: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About the Session: “Building Local Support for CSR Through Employee Champions”

We will explore the development and success of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s employee engagement program through the Community Investment Council initiative, a global grassroots initiative that empowers employees across all business units/seniority levels in all major Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offices to make a difference in their local communities.

What is one way you’ve transformed your personal or professional life recently for the better?

I became aware of the intrinsic relationship between my mental/physical well being and my performance at work (and in life). Now, I make a conscious effort to let each one inform, challenge and improve the other.

About Annalisa Amicangelo:

Annalisa Amicangelo is Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of the world’s largest providers of pre-K–12 education solutions. Annalisa contributes to the strategic development and expansion of HMH’s CSR and shared value initiatives, including public-facing partnerships with the Boston Celtics and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, as well as employee engagement programs like Community Investment Councils and HMH Volunteer Week.

During Annalisa’s tenure, HMH’s CSR program has been awarded and recognized by the Boston Business Journal, PR News, the Corporate Volunteer Council, the Center for Green Schools and Junior Achievement of Northern New England and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

In addition to her work in the private sector, Annalisa serves as Vice President of Jumpstart for Young Children’s Northeast Region Young Professionals Board, where she drives fundraising, awareness and networking activities to support the national nonprofit’s key programs. Annalisa is also a member of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Council and a graduate of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Program.

Annalisa received her Bachelor of Arts in History cum laude from Boston University and completed programs of study at St. Anne’s College, Oxford; and l’Università degli Studi di Padova.

Connect with Annalisa on Twitter, and follow Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Twitter, Facebook, and explore their website.

Learn more about Annalisa Amicangelo and other speakers at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit by clicking here!

This year’s event is generously supported by: General Motors, MGM Resorts International, Delta Air Lines, The United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Newell Rubbermaid.

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Ready to Give Your Best Work?

Guest post by Stephen Ristau

Ready to give your best work for skilled volunteering?Too often I hear from highly skilled and motivated people, “I just can’t seem to find a nonprofit organization that uses my professional talent well.” And despite the great strides that nonprofits have made in recent years to design volunteer or pro bono work experiences that require advanced expertise or training, I still see a disconnect between the available talent pool and the engagement opportunities nonprofits offer.

Do you find this to be true also? Have you had to go through many frustrating encounters with nonprofits before you were able to find a good “skills” match? What enables you to do your best work?

I am interested in hearing about your experiences, cool ideas and best practices regarding best work engagement.

Here are some of mine:

  1. Do your homework. While it might not seem that this should be “like work,” finding a good fit with a nonprofit will require all the research, scanning, assessment, and analytical skills you’ve honed in your line of business. Investigate several organizations with various missions and sizes to learn about them and to assess your fit. Large nonprofits often resemble larger corporations in function and structure, while smaller nonprofits may mirror small “mom and pop” businesses. You know best what kind of issues (mission) you feel passionately about, your preferred work environment, and how your skill set matches with the organization’s needs.
  2. Network relentlessly. Simultaneously explore new organizations and drill deeper with vetted prospects to develop relationships with those leaders who will help you with your search. Know in advance that this will take more time than you expect and make sure you are willing to commit to this process. If not, you need to seriously consider if this is the path for you.
  3. Convey your understanding about the uniqueness of nonprofit cultures. When selling your professional, managerial, or technical skills, make sure you help organizations to see how your skills fit into the culture of the organization in particular and the nonprofit sector in general. Nonprofits tend to have process-oriented, consensus decision-making practices and may not be as results-driven as you may be used to in other sectors. Explain how you can contribute these skills as a part of a decision-making team.
  4. Be aware that, in some cases, you will have more skill and experience than your manager. When it comes to professional, managerial, or technical areas, you may be “senior” to the person who engages you or to whom you will report. Be effective at “managing up,” respecting individual talents (and constraints), and appreciating the value of intergenerational mentoring.
  5. Prepare yourself (for the opportunity) to wear many hats. Because of limited resources, most nonprofits, especially smaller ones, cannot afford the specialization of skills and functions that other sectors can. This may be an opportunity for you to contribute your unique skills to an initial project engagement and even additional ones in the future.

“Best work” organizations, nonprofit and for-profit, are those with human resources that champion innovation and learning, are accountable for outcomes, and are able to work in a coordinated team environment. What are some of the “best work” volunteer experiences you have had?

Let’s give a shout-out to those nonprofits that are empowering volunteers to make a lasting difference. Let us know what you think.

Stephen Ristau has been a nonprofit executive and social entrepreneur.  An innovator in the national encore movement, he has led Transforming Life After 50 and the SVP Portland Encore Fellows program.Contact Stephen at stephenristau@gmail.com and www.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-ristau/4/75/b28.

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Volunteering Does the Body (and Your Employees) Good

Discovery Communications employees gardening and volunteering together.

Discovery Communications employees gardening and volunteering together.

In the past 10 years, we’ve seen more and more corporations developing employee wellness programs. And it is no longer just about having an office gym or healthy snacks in the kitchen.

Many corporations are now using their own money, time, and other resources to incentivize their employees to be healthy. From dental cleanings and discounts on gym apparel, to personal training sessions, companies are starting to take a serious look at how to improve the physical and mental condition of their employees.

Employers are finding that motivating their workers to be healthier makes them happier people, and consequently, happier employees. And while volunteering may not help you lose all that holiday weight in time for bikini season, it can still be a big contributor to your overall wellbeing!

In 2013, UnitedHealth Group conducted a study on the link between health and volunteering named “Doing Good is Good For You.” With all their expertise in the healthcare field combined with years of research, they found that volunteering makes employees feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. An astounding 76% of participants said that volunteering made them feel healthier and 94% said that volunteering improved their mood.

Volunteering managed and lowered employee stress levels, making them more engaged with their companies and eager to work. By integrating volunteering into your wellness program, your company shows that you care not only about your employees’ physical wellbeing, but also their mental!

Many corporations are using a third party to help with their wellness programs, such as Limeade or Healthways, these platforms allow employees to record and track their healthy activities. Employees can earn points which then equate to money that they can use to buy wellbeing-related items such as running shoes, water bottles, etc.

Humana, a VolunteerMatch client, uses volunteering as one of the activities to count towards Healthways points. As an employee tracks hours on VolunteerMatch, they are a few dollars closer to earning a reward that encourages them to keep being healthy! By placing the same value on volunteering as other physical activities, employees see that a company not only values but pushes well-rounded workers who give back!

As an employee engagement leader, you can encourage your company to volunteer in a healthy way: From coaching and sports related activities for a great cause, to getting your hands dirty with gardening, there are lots of volunteer opportunities that benefit your physical health. And with 15,000 opportunities related to health, 7,500 related to sports & fitness, and 2,500 related to gardening and plant restoration in the VolunteerMatch network, your employees are sure to find something that will get them outdoors and active. These opportunities get employees out of their chairs and collaborating with other employees, boosting moral.

If your company already utilizes an employee wellness program, think about all of the ways that you can reengage your employees by adding volunteering to the mix! It creates even more ways for your employees to be involved in both company programs, while keeping them happy and healthy!

Curious how you could easily roll volunteering into your company wellness program? Sign up for a demo of VolunteerMatch Solutions to get the wheels turning!

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VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn Built a Technology Bridge to the Future of Skilled Volunteering

As of this week, every skilled volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch.org gets automatically posted to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace.
VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn have partnered to build a technology bridge to the future of skilled volunteering.

This is big news for everyone: not just for the 100,000 nonprofits currently using VolunteerMatch.org, who will now be better able to find the skilled help they need.

And not just for the 300 million professional members on LinkedIn who will now have more ways to give their time and skills to a cause they care about.

This is also big news for you and your company. By building this “technology bridge” between the two platforms, VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn have created a rich resource to engage your employees based on their own interests and skills.

So far, the pilot program has already seen twice as many—sometimes three times as many!—sign-ups from interested volunteers, a trend that will only grow when all 5,000+ listings go live today.

Click here to learn more about this partnership, and here directly from VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn.

Click here to check out how VolunteerMatch Solutions makes employee engagement easier and more successful through strategies like skilled volunteering.

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Why VolunteerMatch is Just like the Golden Gate Bridge

How the way VolunteerMatch works with companies and nonprofits is just like the Golden Gate Bridge.Here at VolunteerMatch, we see ourselves as being somewhat similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. Not just because we are based in San Francisco, but because of the types of relationships we build.

Explaining the Metaphor

For those of you who are unfamiliar with San Francisco, the Golden Gate connects two sides of the Bay Area. In keeping with this metaphor, let’s say that either side of the Bay represents two key VolunteerMatch audiences: nonprofit organizations and socially responsible businesses.

On one side of the “Bay” we have our network of nonprofits. We support them as they strive to recruit and manage volunteers. On the other side we see our corporate partners, companies just like yours. We encourage and guide you to create a more engaging employee volunteer program.

VolunteerMatch makes it easier for companies and nonprofits to connect and do good.With all the fog in San Francisco, it’s often hard to see what others are doing on the other side of the Bay. What everyone needs is something that will give them access to one another, while still supporting the particular needs of each side. In San Francisco, this is the Golden Gate Bridge. In the world of volunteer engagement, this is VolunteerMatch.

We use this metaphor to emphasize the unique position Volunteermatch holds for you and your nonprofit partners, and how we can help increase the connection between you. Much like the Bridge, we not only want to bring you together once, but we want to make it easy for you to form a strong and lasting relationship. We want to show both sides how much amazing work is happening and give you tips for working better together.

Strengthening the Bridge

This has already been happening for years via emails, webinars and blog posts, but recently we decided that we needed to do more. So we created Community Connection Day. These events will bring together nonprofits and corporations from the same geographic area to talk about what’s going on in their world of volunteer engagement – on both sides of the bridge.

At the end of February 2014, we had the first ever Community Connection Day in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks to Nationwide & Limited Brands, we held a beautiful, inspiring education day at the Columbus Foundation. In the morning, the groups split up into their respective tracks for training. After individual sessions, we came together for lunch and a panel discussion. We paired corporations with their strongest nonprofit partner and had them share their relationship with the group. We discussed best practices, what works for their collaboration and common barriers.

We found that Community Connection Day brought out insights on both sides. Participants commented that while training was helpful, the most rewarding part of the day was meeting other volunteer managers in their area and having the chance to discuss their programs, their struggles, and how they could help each other.

We were so thrilled with the reaction and results from the first Community Connection Day that we’ve decided to open the door to more!

If you want to find more ways to bridge the gap between your company’s employee engagement activities and the nonprofits in your area, let us know!

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Inspiration Lives Here

Read inspiring stories of companies making a difference through employee and consumer engagement.

Who will you inspire with your company’s story?

Actually, inspiration is shared here. What really inspires us is the difference companies like yours can make through your employee and consumer engagement activities. Not only does your work have a direct impact in your communities, your employees feel richer and more fulfilled by the opportunity to give back through their workplace. What a deal!

When we hear about companies who are doing great things in volunteering, we tell their stories.

 

Want to be inspired? Read through the stories below, learn from what others in your field are doing, and share with your employees:

Does your company make a difference through your employee volunteer activities? Contact us and tell us about it! 

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Loop Them In: How to Help Your Remote Employees Feel like Local Volunteers

A Whirlpool employee works on some sporting equipment during the company's Volunteer Week.

A Whirlpool employee works on some sporting equipment during the company’s Volunteer Week.

Whether your company is large or small, many volunteer programs face the challenge of successfully communicating and implementing a volunteer program for their field-based and remote employees.

Unlike a typical employee environment, these remote employees may be working odd hours that don’t coordinate with group volunteering, or working in an inconvenient location that doesn’t allow them to volunteer with their coworkers, or even volunteer at all! Employees who don’t get to participate in the group volunteering activities put on by your company may feel out of the loop and frustrated about not being able to contribute to your program’s goal to improve the community.

However, as a program manager, you can still reinforce the importance of volunteering for both your employee’s well being and the company’s. Remind both employees and leadership that volunteering boosts morale and productivity and improves the reputation of the company. These are good reasons why your volunteer program should be designed to encourage all types of volunteering environments.

With that in mind, here are some successful ways you can “loop in” your remote employees:

Grow an Employee Forest with Arbor Day Foundation

Arbor Day Foundation volunteers plant trees

Arbor Day Foundation volunteers plant trees

The Arbor Day Foundation (an awesome member of the VolunteerMatch network) is helping companies empower their workers with the “Employee Forest” campaign. Tree saplings are delivered to the employee’s office or home, and in turn, the employee can plant the tree in their yard or local park. This gives the employee the chance to plant the tree in a special place with their family or friends on the weekend, no matter how “remote” of a worker they are.

The amazing thing about the Employee Forest campaign is how every party benefits. Companies are making an impact in multiple communities by having employees’ plant trees in different locations. Employees feel good about their employer and themselves for the chance to give back to their communities and spend time with their loved ones, no matter how far away they may be from the home office.

Pre-Shift Meetings at MGM

MGM, a stellar VolunteerMatch client, uses “pre-shift” meetings to engage employees who are working a shift on the floor. A manager debriefs a staff person before his or her shift starts on what’s going on in the world of MGM volunteering.

The managers get their staff involved by filling them in on how many hours the company tracked last year, local nonprofits that may need help on their days off, or simply opening up the floor for these employees to plan a volunteering event together. This gives these employees, who may never see each other during their shifts but still work the same hours, a way to start off their work day feeling involved and knowing their volunteering options.

Virtual Volunteering is Real Volunteering

On average, VolunteerMatch has over 4,500 virtual volunteering opportunities posted on our website at any given time. If employees feel like they can’t leave their desks, work in a remote location, or physically can’t move around too much, VolunteerMatch offers thousands of options for them to work from wherever they are! Employees can choose opportunities that match their skills, such as putting together a communications plan for a nonprofit, or something outside the box like knitting hats for premature infants. There really is something for everyone!

As a company, you want your employees to feel like a part of the team when it comes to giving back, even if they can’t attend the group volunteering outings. Empower ALL of the workers who represent your company to contribute to the volunteer program by looping them in with choices that fit their lifestyles and passions.

How does your company engage remote and non-traditional employees in your volunteer program?

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