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 Taking a Political Stand CSR?

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.

SalesForce.com Takes a Stand Against Bigotry in Indiana
CSR comes in many shapes and sizes. How taking a public stance on an issue your employees and customers care deeply about? This is exactly what SalesForce.com did when they announced their intentions to reduce investments in Indiana after the signing of a bill many believe “legalizes discrimination.” Get the full scoop in this Triple Pundit article, and let us know: Is this a form of CSR?

Loop Them In: Help Your Remote Employees Feel Like Local Volunteers
In this LinkedIn post, Laura Ellis shows us that remote or field-based employees don’t have to be out of the employee volunteering loop. Check out these strategies on how to counter difficulties faced by varying employee shifts, time zones, and locations.

How to Build an Effective CSR Strategy: Insight from Center Members
How do you prevent your CSR strategy from becoming “frozen?” BCCCC turned to their 400 member companies to answer this question. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly?) the answers were consistent: Understand your stakeholders, and integrate CSR with your company’s vision. Read this post on 3BL Media to find out what else they had to say.

Airbnb Campaign Brings Attention to NYC Homeless
A company that is criticized for contributing to apartment scarcity runs a campaign to raise money and bring awareness to the homeless population of New York City. Is this a CSR match made in heaven, an attempt to counter negative press – or maybe both? What do you think about this creative CSR campaign from Airbnb? Get the details in this article from Triple Pundit.

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

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Employee Volunteerism: Why Not All Companies?

Guest post by Emily Rothberg

This post originally appeared on Emily’s Blog.

Office Workers in Front of a WindowIt seems easy. Why doesn’t every company offer employee volunteer programs?

More and more companies are offering paid volunteer time off (VTO), with the CECP 2014 Giving in Numbers Report showing 59% in 2013, an 8% increase from 2010. And, the business case for employee volunteerism is beyond well-documented.

So, why aren’t employee volunteer programs standard practice? Two business challenges can undermine the best of intentions: Determining what counts, and determining the end game.

What Counts?
If a company’s employees volunteer, does that a program make?

How a company decides to track and report time, or recognize and reward employee volunteer efforts, matters. If my manager allows me to leave work an hour early to prepare a meal for a homeless shelter, and I make up that hour by coming in early the next day, is that a program? If I plant trees at my daughter’s school and input those hours in the company’s volunteerism platform, should the company get credit for the activity? And, if the answer to these scenarios is yes, does any company not have a volunteer program?

On the other end of the spectrum, if what counts are only activities aligned with a company’s strategy, or managed by the corporate citizenship/ CSR staff, such as a company day of community service with a pre-approved menu of activities, and my supervisor is strongly encouraging my participation, have I been “volun-told?” Have we messed with the entire spirit of volunteerism?

What’s the End Game?
If a company hasn’t outlined its employee volunteer program goals and defined how to measure success, does that company have a strategy?

Take the practices of rewarding and recognizing volunteers with paid time off and/ or funding (“dollars for doers”). Yes, employees and their nonprofit partners are grateful, and the whole notion feels democratic, as everybody’s effort counts, and no single activity is deemed more worthy than the next. But, while $250 matching gifts surely help smaller nonprofits operate day-to-day, donations of this size don’t add up in the societal impact equation. Can a company looking to make a significant impact, or even distinguish itself with stakeholders, accomplish those goals with a basic “follow-your-passion” strategy?

For those who take on the employee volunteerism challenge, does every company deserve bragging rights? How about two criteria for assessing success:

Core Business Practice
While the cliché “it’s part of our DNA” has become ubiquitous, volunteering at top companies is truly a year-round, CEO-to-intern component of a company’s business. Beyond enthusiastic tweets on annual days of service, executives serve on nonprofit boards and lead pro bono initiatives. Employees such as line workers, who don’t typically have an easy time leaving their work place, have options for meaningful volunteerism. When HR recruits on campuses, and managers speak with customers, giving back through volunteer time is framed as a core business value.

In sum, the company’s volunteerism rules of the road for what counts and how it’s counted are spelled out clearly. The company adopts and communicates consistent standards of conduct and appropriate risk mitigation measures.

Integrated Strategy
In leading companies, the CSR department doesn’t own employee volunteerism – volunteering is everybody’s business. Rather than passive recipients of a top-down corporate strategy, employees play an active role in developing and executing employee volunteerism guidelines and programs.

In these companies, employee volunteerism is a component of a larger corporate citizenship strategy, and options range from episodic, hands-on volunteering to deep, skilled volunteerism. Companies view their employees as their greatest asset and actualize that mindset by developing their next generation of leaders through nonprofit board service or pro bono engagements. These human-capital volunteer activities also address the nonprofit sector’s most mission-critical needs and long-term viability challenges.

The reality is this: Companies face tough choices in designing and operating effective employee volunteerism programs. Best practice programs engage employees’ heads, hands, and hearts to drive business value and maximize social impact. The end goal isn’t easy to achieve, but it’s a vision worth working toward, and surely one within our grasp.

Emily Rothberg & Company helps companies thrive by donating their time, talent and treasure. It also helps nonprofits grow corporate support for greater impact. In her blog, Emily shares insights from her years inside corporate America, intertwined with thoughts from her clients, as well as long-time colleagues.

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Upcoming Webinar: Volunteer Recognition Programs Your Employees Will Love

Business Woman Shouting I Won In Front of her LapTopEmployee volunteers who go above and beyond deserve recognition. Rewards and awards programs offer your employees incentive to get involved, fun competition with their coworkers, and a feeling of being appreciated.

But we think these volunteer champions deserve something more than a free t-shirt or a small grant to the nonprofit of their choice (to name a few typical rewards). In this month’s Best Practice Network (BPN) Webinar, we’ll hear from Nationwide and AT&T – companies that have or are working on creative employee recognition programs. They’ll inspire you to start your own unique reward practices for your stand-out employee volunteers.

Oh, and we’ll also be doing things a little differently this month in our BPN Webinar Series. We know you’re all busy professionals out there doing good in your communities… and who has time to sit through an hour-long webinar? That’s why we’re excited to announce what we’re calling “Bite-Sized BPNs”: The same great information packed into half the time. Pairs well with coffee, lunch, or snack breaks. Enjoy!

Reserve your complimentary spot today.
Thursday March 26, 2015
12pm – 12:30pm PT (3pm – 3:30pm ET)


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CSR Food For Thought: Recycling Pays Off Thanks to Sprint

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.

Sprint Offers $5K to Students Who Find Innovative Ways to Recycle Smartphones
Most of us know that electronic waste (e-waste) is a huge problem. But what most of us don’t know is what we can do about it. This article from Triple Pundit explains how Sprint is giving motivation for college students to tackle a segment of e-waste problem – by coming up with new ways to recycle their old smartphones.

Groupon Logs 14,355 Volunteer Hours
How does a company increase its employee volunteer hours by nearly 500%? In this post, Groupon explains how they were able to accomplish this awe-inspiring feat in 2014. From carefully crafted partnerships to some friendly competition, Groupon’s employee volunteer program really took off in 2014. And in 2015, they’re reaching even higher.

2015: The Year of Hyper-Transparency in Global Business
The Guardian predicts a fast increase in the number of global companies practicing full transparency. Why? The benefits, of course – benefits that span from better purchasing decisions to more growth capacity. Read this article for more details on what to expect in the coming years.

The Chocolate and Peanut Butter of Volunteerism
LinkedIn for Good doesn’t just encourage their own employees’ volunteerism. With their huge network of professionals across industries and across the world, they have the ability to encourage virtually every employees’ volunteerism. And that’s exactly where they’re heading with their announcement of taking their volunteer marketplace internationally.  And remember, nonprofit posts on VolunteerMatch automatically get pushed through to LinkedIn, making us the chocolate to LinkedIn’s peanut butter – yum!

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CSR Food for Thought: What China Has in Store for CSR

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.

Corporate Responsibility in China and the New IDNs: Two Trends Set to Shake the Global South

There are two trends about to rear there strong, tech-heavy heads that will have serious implications for business in China as well as how companies approach CSR around the world. Read more on the BCLC blog…

UPS Foundation Champions Volunteerism Awarding $2.4 Million to Nine Nonprofits

As the governing arm for global citizenship and corporate giving for UPS, a key focus area for The UPS Foundation is volunteerism. This year it will donate more than $2.4 million to support the volunteer efforts of nine non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on those organizations that specialize in disaster preparedness and response.

International Effort Moves Forward to Develop Global Standard for Corporate Sustainability Ratings

The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) has released a set of core Principles it says it will use for accrediting sustainability ratings worldwide. After a year-long development process including hundreds of comments from interested parties, GISR aims to harmonize and expand the global market for high quality sustainability ratings, rankings and indices.

VolunteerMatch Clients Shine Brightly in The Civic 50

For the second year in a row, Bloomberg has published The Civic 50, which identifies the most community-minded companies in the country. And once again, a large group VolunteerMatch partners and clients appear on The Civic 50 list. These businesses are being recognized for the hard work and community commitment that we see from them every day.

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CSR Food for Thought: Ten Reasons Why Doing Good Is Good For Business

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



Ten Reasons Why Doing Good Is Good For Business
The next time someone tries to question the purpose of your role in corporate social responsibility (CSR), make sure to have this article on hand. Here the author outlines 10 basic, and impactful, reasons why CSR is good for society and for business.

The Power of Collaboration
We often use the word “collaboration” heavily when we discuss what it will take to build a more socially responsible world. But achieving successful collaboration is not an easy task. The experts at BSR offer the first in a series of articles exploring what works and what doesn’t when trying to build collaborative programs.

Brand Citizenship Rules
Consumers care less about the good you’re doing for the public when you’re not first doing a good job taking care of your employees. So it’s critical to first focus internally on engaging employees and important business stakeholders before looking beyond your organization’s walls. However, building your program from the inside out won’t hold you back from the public good you’re trying to achieve, it will actually bolster the external impact you’ll have.

Is Being a Responsible Consumer More Important Than Voting?
Havas Worldwide recently published the latest study to show how consumers increasingly look to companies and nonprofits to fill the role that government traditionally played in helping to solve social issues. As this Cause Marketing Forum article notes, there is a huge opportunity for companies and nonprofits to engage citizens in their efforts to create change.

Shaking the Donor Engagement Ladder
A low percentage (9%) of cause supporters are first engaging through social media channels. However, as Emily Nichols of Cone Communications explains, this is not to say that these supporters don’t deserve to be engaged. In fact, people who engage first through social media are more likely to stay involved by donating and volunteering for a cause than when engaging first through traditional channels. That is enough reason to make you think twice about how you’ll engage consumers in your next campaign.

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