Conseco, which is changing its name to CNO Financial Group, Inc. in May, has been supporting its employee volunteers for years. In 2009, for example, the Indiana-based insurance and annuities provider and Fortune 500 company inspired employees to donate more than 16,000 hours of service to support their communities.
A key part of the program at Conseco is a campaign it calls the Step Up Awards. Through these annual awards — which are made possible by Conseco’s use of VolunteerMatch tools for tracking and reporting volunteer hours — Conseco recognizes employees who are not only making a special impact through volunteering, but are doing so through a smart combination of commitment, strategic involvement, and dedication to results.
Conseco honors up to seven winners each year with Step Up Awards, and matches their contribution of time with up to $20,000 in grants to the organizations served. Conseco’s highest Step Up award for 2010 — the “Award of Excellence” — carries a $10,000 grant from Conseco to the nonprofit organization, plus a trip for the winner to Washington, D.C., to represent the company at the national Jefferson Awards ceremony.
The awards also encourage participation in activities that align with Conseco’s insurance business – for example, volunteers who make a difference in the lives of seniors and help prepare neighbors and communities for the unexpected. (We approve: at VolunteerMatch we’ve always felt that linking volunteering with business goals is one of the best ways to ensure participation and impact.)
The top award this year went to Jo St. John, who volunteers at Newborns in Need in Indianapolis. St. John has volunteered with this national nonprofit since 2001, and serves as president of the Indianapolis chapter. By helping to organize others across the community, St. John has channeled nearly 200,000 items to needy babies, serving over 150 needy families each month.
Other new Step Up award winners include Amy Schlegel, who volunteered with Chicago Cares to support capacity-building for hundreds of agencies and schools; Aaron Kramer, who volunteered at Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries of Chicago, a refugee resettlement agency; Patricia Lavelle, who served at the AIDS Fund of Philadelphia; and Donna Lewellen and John Reid, both of whom volunteered for American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis.
Conseco, which is changing its name to CNO Financial Group, Inc. in May, also serves as one of around 30 Champions of the nationally acclaimed Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which were founded in 1972 as a “Nobel Prize” equivalent for public and community service.