Top 3 Things I Learned About Pro Bono from the First Twitter Talk Tuesday

This post also appears on Engaging Volunteers.

Tweet, Twitter, Bird, Blue, Twig, Branch, Green, HillsOn Tuesday, November 19, my team and I rounded up with coffee in our hands and entered the Twittersphere to begin our first Twitter Talk Tuesday. As an intern at VolunteerMatch I was able to be an integral part of the project. Our first topic was pro bono and skilled volunteering.

To be honest, I am not an expert in this field and I was a little intimidated to be a participating member of Twitter Talk Tuesday. Here are some of the things I learned throughout the hour-long chat:

Setting the foundation of a pro bono project

We started the chat off talking about how the initial conversation between a nonprofit and a company can be complicated concerning pro bono projects. Many of the responses we received said that both parties need to be clear on what the goal is, how to efficiently reach that goal and provide guidelines for how they will work together. Some even provided links with resources to additional help.

Mutually beneficial pro bono relationships

Later in the Twitter chat we discussed who benefits from a pro bono project more: a nonprofit, volunteers, or the corporation. When I was first thinking about this subject I had immediately come to the conclusion that it was a win-win-win situation. However, some of our participants shed light on a few problems involved. I learned that yes, ideally pro bono projects should benefit all parties, but sometimes the needs of the company can overpower the needs of the organization.

On the other hand, those that successfully create a pro bono project allow for nonprofits to get what they need without having to pay for it, employees get to utilize and even sharpen their skills, and corporations increase their impact for good.

Planning a pro bono project

We also discussed how organizations can plan for pro bono projects. An important realization is that there isn’t one right process; each project is unique to the particular needs of the nonprofit and company involved. The planning team must be flexible and be willing to put in the hard work that goes into pro bono projects. In addition to this, it is equally important to know what kind of skills the community and the corporate employees have to offer.

There are a lot of different aspects that go into these projects, but the outcome is definitely worth it. A running theme throughout our Twitter chat was that these projects are unique and must be treated as such. There must be plenty of flexibility, research, communication and cooperation in order to have a successful outcome.

Overall, the first Twitter Talk Tuesday was incredibly helpful and gave me some insight as to how nonprofits and corporations come together for a pro bono project to help out those in need.

Be on the look out for our next Twitter Talk Tuesday! Keep the conversation going about pro bono volunteering using the hashtag #vmtalk. Tweet you soon!

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Jump into the Melting Pot That is VolunteerMatch on Twitter to Answer Your Burning Volunteering Questions

Twitter is a great platform for those in and out of the VolunteerMatch network to connect, ask questions, and talk about issues that face nonprofits and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. On November 19th at 10:00AM PST, we will be launching a brand new twitter chat called Twitter Talk Tuesday. Companies will be able to exchange information with the VolunteerMatch network on how their involvement with nonprofits and employee volunteers have benefited them in a low pressure environment.

We will be discussing issues such as how nonprofits and causes can become aligned with corporate missions, fundraising, and acting local and thinking global. Of course, the issues we will be discussing will most likely not be solved in a 1-hour Twitter chat. But this gives you an opportunity to talk about them and gain knowledge about what has worked for others and why.

You will be able to join in this hour-long Twitter chat  using the hashtag “#VMTalk” and following us @VolunteerMatch.

Our First Twitter Talk Tuesday

On November 19th, VolunteerMatch will host the very first Twitter Talk Tuesday about pro bono and skilled volunteering. Through employee volunteer programs many corporations and nonprofits have come together to mutually benefit from employee’s unique skills and abilities to contribute to the greater good.

This Twitter chat will serve as a space for both nonprofits and companies to discuss issues such as measuring success, who benefits from pro bono projects, and more. People from all different backgrounds, experience levels, corporations, nonprofits and organizations are encouraged to become engaged with the VolunteerMatch online network in our Twitter Talk Tuesday. We hope to see you (virtually) at the first Twitter Talk Tuesday on November 19th!

What topics do you want to discuss with the VolunteerMatch network in a Twitter Talk Tuesday? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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When It Comes To Volunteering I Rarely Think: Why Am I Doing This?

Hello VounteerMatch community! My name is Rana Ayed and I will be a Communications and Social Media intern at VolunteerMatch for the coming few months. I am a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem. I was raised a humanist and social activist. My family, education and professional work experience provided the seeds for my evolving work ethic, sense of local and global civic responsibility and the limitlessness of my potential.

I moved to San Francisco Spring 2011 and completed my Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Golden Gate University in May 2013. I aspire to harness my skills as a bilingual Social Marketer to explore new online communities for VolunteerMatch.

When I think about volunteering, I rarely think: why am I doing this? More often I think: why are other people not doing this? As a Social Marketer I am invested in the well-being of the communities I am part of and others I have yet to meet. For me, volunteering is about social equity and self-determination, more than committing a number of hours. It is more about being an example of the good cause I believe in.

From involving more than 150 Palestinian and International organizations to prioritize local products within their procurement policy, to introducing the first olive tapenade brand made by women cooperatives in villages, I am passionate about returning economic agency to local stakeholders.

I am especially interested in two areas, women’s health equity and youth physical activity. As a youth I was part of an Italian initiative in Palestinian refugee camps that established a women’s basketball team as a growth opportunity and social skills development for young women at the camp.

I am currently volunteering as a digital marketer for the Nurse-Midwives Department at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). Focusing on the empowerment that emerges from the values and practice of midwifery we aim to increase awareness of the benefits of midwifery care at SFGH during pregnancy and birth as a vehicle for increasing the number of women cared for by Nurse-Midwives.

It is the nuanced interactions with a mother who presses olive oil or the satisfaction of addressing the social media marketing needs of nonprofit organizations through this internship with VolunteerMatch that compels me to cultivate reciprocal, transnational relationships through digital marketing.

I am excited to learn from the diverse team of experts at VolunteerMatch and the online community of volunteers, nonprofits, and companies who are invested in the collective well-being of the society, that allows us to fulfill our dreams in a global and cross-cultural setting.

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CSR Food for Thought: Building Your Employee Volunteer Army

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 Network Effect: Enlisting a Brand Army

Network for Good brings us the third post in a series based on Causes’ recent webinar, ‘Enlisting an Army of Brand Advocates.’ Allison McGuire and Kate Olsen do a good job at summing up the steps involved, and provide some great insights of their own.

Volunteering 20 Minutes at a Time
Realized Worth gives some great insight on micro-volunteering, which can leverage employees’ skills for small-scale and often virtual volunteer projects. They explain how the crowdsourcing platform is a great tool for companies whose employees may not have the time to be involved in longer projects. VolunteerMatch also has some great virtual volunteering opportunities that could be excellent for your time-strapped employees.

Webinar Recap – A Billion + Change: What’s Behind the Movement to Inspire More Pro Bono in America?
In our March Best Practice Network Webinar, Jennifer Lawson, Executive Director of A Billion + Change, was in conversation with VolunteerMatch’s Robert Rosenthal. They discussed how any individual business can make a difference—but 500 companies, working together, can change entire communities through pro bono and skill-based volunteering.

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Webinar Recap – A Billion + Change: What’s Behind the Movement to Inspire More Pro Bono in America?

On March 26th, we continued our monthly Best Practices Network (BPN) Webinar Series with A Billion + Change: What’s Behind the Pro Bono Movement in America. Robert Rosenthal, VP of Marketing here at VolunteerMatch hosted an engaging discussion with Jenny Lawson, executive director of the nonprofit A Billion + Change. The webinar covered how A Billion + Change is inspiring companies to take the pledge to provide skill-based and pro bono service in corporate america.

Robert was also joined by Erin Dieterich, manager of global employee engagement at Netsuite, who detailed her experiences with A Billion + Change and gave great insights into her company’s pro bono program.

Robert began by explaining that pro bono isn’t always the easiest way to engage employees. “It’s a very high touch area of volunteer engagement – with the potential for lots of rewards, and lots of risk.”

At VolunteerMatch, we cover pro bono as an element of volunteering and it’s an important part of our growth strategy for the 170 companies that use our services.

Now More Than Ever: Pro Bono in Corporate America
Jenny Lawson gave our attendees a fascinating look at A Billion + Change. The goal of the organization is to find 500 companies willing to pledge their best business skills and talents to serve the needs of nonprofits and communities at home and worldwide. Jenny underlined some great points about the pledge:

  • Currently, 300 companies have pledged their best employees to tackle tough problems in communities around the world – with a committed value that is “edging ever closer to $2 Billion.”
  • Companies that joined the pledge represent all fields and all sectors.
  • The pledge is free of charge and those who join would have the opportunity to become part of a very dynamic CSR community.

Jenny explained that the “talent of corporate america is needed now more than ever.” To meet this need, A Billion + Change started a national campaign to encourage companies of all sizes to embrace more skill-based and pro bono initiatives.

Reaching pledge goals isn’t only in the realm of large corporations. According to Jenny, “A growing number of small businesses are making an impact on their communities through skill-based and pro bono service.

Suite Volunteer: Corporate Citizenship that Empowers Charity and Social Enterprise
Our attendees got the opportunity to see a unique perspective from Erin Dieterich of Netsuite. She talked about her company’s experience joining A Billion + Change and developing her company’s pro bono initiatives.

Erin is a huge fan of branding employee volunteering programs; there is a great sense of community, as if they were “part of a club”.

Netsuite previously used an ad hoc pro bono program. This approach helped employees understand the value of pro bono engagement, but, as Erin explains, using the ad hoc method brought about a challenge to create a sustainable model.

In June 2012, Netsuite joined the pledge with A Billion + Change. According to Erin, “The pledge was a wonderful way to bring some awareness to our pro bono campaign.”

The company has since created Suite Volunteer, a virtual program through VolunteerMatch that scales with company growth, engages employees across departments, and helps grantees achieve success.

As Erin emphasizes, “There is a tremendous surge in engagement when you get employees involved in pro bono; they’re not only helping create social impact for the nonprofit world, but they’re feeling much more engaged with their day-to-day work environment.

We encourage you to check out this eye-opening webinar on YouTube and Slideshare!

Join us April 20th for our next Best Practice Network webinar entitled Why Cause Marketing is a Good Investment. 

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CSR Food For Thought: Inspiring Employee Engagment

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.


Employee Votes Count in Donating $100,000 to Local Charities: Allianz Life Contributes Money and Supports Volunteerism Based on Employee Input

Allianz Life Insurance Company gives employees the power to vote on CSR employee engagement initiatives. In this truly inspiring story, employees decide to donate $100,000 to local charities, showing that employees can take the initiative and make a positive difference in the community.

Employee Engagement Gets Dirty

The Stanford Social Innovation Review shares a great example of creative CSR employee engagement by Levi’s. As part of their #gowaterless challenge, they asked employees to wear the same pair of jeans for a week without washing them. We can learn a lot from their creative campaign, including how to make our own Impact at Work programs and engage employees when they’re in the office and out volunteering in their communities. It’s also a great example of how to connect employee engagement with a popular marketing campaign.

2013 VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards: A Look at Finalist City National Bank

City National Bank employees participated in an exceptional employee volunteering program called Reading is the Way Up®, which offers grants to K-5 public and private schools and books to school libraries while providing employees with ways to volunteer. The versatile program was an awards finalist in VolunteerMatch’s 2013 Client Summit Awards.

Three Business Reasons for Employee Engagement Programs

We’ve collected some inspiring stories of employees taking part in causes and campaigns, but what is the real business impact for your company? Network for Good’s recent blog post is a great source for why your company should have an employee involvement program. While there, make sure to check out their eGuide with even more details about employee engagement and tips from VolunteerMatch’s Robert Rosenthal.

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Upcoming Best Practice Network Webinar: Pro Bono Service on Steroids – International Corporate Volunteering

While general volunteerism has been a key pillar of corporate philanthropic programs in the past, many companies have discovered how to align their employees’ interest in service with strategic business priorities. Through International Corporate Volunteering (ICV) employees use their professional skills and business training to help social enterprises and nonprofits expand or improve services. These assignments have proven to be powerful experiential learning opportunities that develop employees into the next generation of global business leaders.

Pro Bono Service on Steroids: International Corporate Volunteering

Come join us for a presentation and discussion about International Corporate Volunteer programs (ICV) and find out why companies like PepsiCo are sending their top employees on extended volunteer assignments abroad.

Join Amanda MacArthur from CDC Development Solutions and Pascale Sejean, co-founder PepsiCorps, for an overview of ICV that will dive deep into trends, best practices and profile the new PepsiCorps program.

Register for this FREE event
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
10-11 a.m. PT (1-2 p.m. ET)
Follow the conversation on Twitter @VM_Solutions, #VMbpn

Check out this video for an introduction to the PepsiCorps program:

About Our Guest Speakers:
Pascale Sejean is a founding member of the PepsiCorps Program established at PepsiCo in 2010. PepsiCorps is PepsiCo’s Leadership Development Program focused on the vision of Performance with Purpose. In her full time job, Pascale is a New Business National Account Sales Manager in the Foodservice Channel.

Amanda MacArthur is a Vice President at CDC Development Solutions where she leads the organization’s Global Citizenship and Volunteerism Practice Area, which includes the International Corporate Volunteer and MBA Programs divisions. In this role she has designed and managed employee engagement programs around the globe for IBM, Dow Corning, PepsiCo, FedEx, Deloitte and others.

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