6 Solutions for International Corporate Volunteering

Thinking about offering international volunteer opportunities through your company’s volunteering program? These opportunities can be rich for both personal and professional development, taking employees beyond their comfort zones and teaching them to use their skills in new ways while benefiting international communities. It’s in this unfamiliar space that employees are given the opportunity for a truly transformative experience.

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By Christine Johnston

They also have the potential to deliver significant social and environmental impact in local communities – when it’s done right. Don’t know where to start?

Check out these organizations:

1. Emzingo

Are you looking for a way to engage your millennial employees? Emzingo, founded in Madrid, Spain, by IE Business MBA students, specifically targets young professionals and provides two main programs: NextGen Fellowship Program and The Impact Learning Trek.

The NexGen Fellowship is a 6 to 8 week program that allows participants to contribute their skills to a hands-on social impact project in an emerging country with nonprofit and social enterprise partners.

The Impact Learning Trek (ILT) is a 8 to 10 day program in developing countries with emerging markets, that exposes participants to their unique social and economic challenges through a firsthand learning experience from local social enterprises.

Costs: Both programs require a fee (dependent on the program and country you choose), on top of travel costs to and from the service location.

Check out participants sharing their experiences with Emzingo:

2. HandsUp Incentives

Do you want to use international volunteering as a team building opportunity? Hands Up Incentives offers companies the opportunity to recognize their staff through a volunteer incentive trip which includes gala dinners and luxury hotels, while also providing a grassroots experience giving back to local communities through “hands on volunteering.” Hands Up is a valuable opportunity for team volunteering and team building, taking employees out of their comfort zones together.

Costs: Contact HandsUp for a customized program assessment and quote.

Check out participants sharing their experience from a Softcat incentive trip to Cambodia:

3. MovingWorlds

Do you have  self-starting employees that need a hand finding personally relevant and exciting volunteer opportunities abroad? MovingWorlds acts like a dating site and guarantees the individual – in this case, the employee – a personalized match to a verified social impact organization in one of many countries around the world. All the employee needs to do is fill out an online profile and the system will provide a volunteer opportunity match aligned with their professional skills and personal preferences.

Costs: Annual subscriptions range from $99 USD to $799 USD per employee. Partner organizations provide free accommodations to volunteers, making travel costs less expensive.

Check out MovingWorlds Founder, Mark Horoszowski, talking to tech sector employees in Seattle about the opportunities they offer and why:

4. PYXERA Global

Do you want to offer international pro bono opportunities with clear social and economic benefits as part of your corporate volunteering program? PYXERA Global provides unique opportunities tailored to the specific professional skills of your corporate employees looking to build grassroots capacity abroad with local public and civic partners. These opportunities act as a way to give back, as well as a way to enable your employees’ personal and professional development in a new context.

Costs: Contact PYXERA Global for a customized program assessment and quote.

Check out PYXERA Global’s CEO, Dierdre White talking about Purposeful Global Engagement and the benefits of Pro Bono Volunteering:

5. Uniterra

Do you want to partner with an organization that makes a difference by focusing their efforts specifically on equality, economic development, health and AIDS, education, and governance? By focusing on these issues, Uniterra creates international cooperation between volunteers and partners. Their zones of volunteer service are Canada, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Find out more about Uniterra here.

For companies, Leave for Change is Uniterra’s corporate volunteering initiative. It enables employees to use part of their annual vacation as a volunteer assignment in a developing country. Employers invest in the development of their human resources and demonstrate leadership in corporate social responsibility. Employees put their knowledge and skills to work in an international development project, expand their personal and professional horizons and acquire a deeper understanding of broader global issues.

Costs: In the majority of cases, employers cover part of the costs and Uniterra covers the rest such as pre-departure training, vaccinations, visas, flights, lodging, food and local travel required for work. See additional information here.

Check out the Leave for Change Pinterest board here.

 6. Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA)

VSA provides not only skills-based opportunities, but skills-sharing with the communities in which employees volunteer. Based in New Zealand, potential volunteers can search the site for positions that best fit their skills, interests, preferred location, and duration. At Realized Worth, we’re big fans of VSA CEO Gill Greer. Gill has been a source of knowledge and insight for RW and plays an important role in Impact 2030, an initiative to achieve the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals through corporate volunteering.

Costs: Once approved, VSA provides volunteers with a living allowance as well as accommodations, return flights, comprehensive insurance cover, and visas and permits. Find out more here.

Check out Volunteer Service Abroad working with our partners in the wider Pacific to give women the economic opportunities to help lift them and their families out of poverty.

Whether your corporate volunteer program focus is on unique team building experiences, engaging millennial employees, providing pro bono opportunities relevant to your employees, or assisting self-starting and adventurous employees, these organizations can help you do it right.

Have you ever taken your employee volunteers on an international service trip? Have you volunteered internationally yourself? Tell us about your experience! Leave a comment below or email us via contact@realizedworth.com.

Christine RW PHOTO EDITED
Christine Johnston
Consultant, Project Manager, Realized Worth

A Tool for Volunteer Champions to Find Good Community Partners

Are you frustrated with how hard it is to find good nonprofits to partner with for your company’s employee volunteering and giving program? Here is a tool you can start using today to help solve that problem.

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By Chris Jarvis

You may be frustrated

It isn’t easy to find the right nonprofit to partner with when planning employee volunteering events. When Volunteer Champions (employees with the right mix of experience, enthusiasm, and energy) are tasked with this job they will likely gravitate towards the nonprofits and experiences they know personally. It makes sense.

But if you are managing the employee volunteering and giving program for your company, you may be looking to align more of these opportunities with your program’s strategic focus. That can be problematic for your Champions. For example, if your Volunteer Champion loves dogs and has volunteered for over 20 years at the local animal shelter, then they are likely to organize volunteering events at the that shelter. That’s what they know. That’s their passion.

So when you ask them to find a nonprofit in their area to provide volunteering opportunities within your program’s focus on STEM education, they may feel overwhelmed. In response, they will either ignore your email or express their frustration at not knowing what to do. This also makes sense.

New Research: The Challenges and Solutions of Going Global

So how do we solve this problem? Easy.

Provide your Volunteer Champions your version of the following five steps to finding the right nonprofit partner (and give us a call if you need to).

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The following five steps will enable your Local Volunteer Champion to conduct a community needs assessment and identify the right community partners for your company’s volunteering events.

Your Community Partner Assessment Tool

1. IDENTIFY THE NEED

  • What needs are you trying to address through this volunteering event?
  • Will addressing these needs be the right use of the capacity of your site, plant, department, etc.?
  • Will addressing these needs matter to the health of the community? In what ways is this evident?
  • How will you be able to measure the degree to which your volunteering event contributed to addressing the needs?

2. UNDERSTAND THE MOTIVATION

  • What will change as a result of the volunteering event?
  • What will motivate other employees to join this volunteering event? What attributes does the volunteering event need to have to feel like an exceptional (not just good) use of employee time?
  • How will the nonprofit partner benefit from your volunteering investments?

3. PLAN FOR ONGOING IMPACT

  • Is there an opportunity for ongoing volunteering with this nonprofit partner?
  • Will the nonprofit partner provide updates on the project’s progress or accomplishments?
  • Are you clear on what success looks like as part of the bigger picture?

4. SET YOUR GOALS & OBJECTIVES

  • What are the existing targets/objectives of your company’s employee volunteering program that this volunteering initiative will achieve?
  • Are there possible points of intersection between your company’s business goals in the region and this volunteering event?
  • From your perspective, what are the obstacles to moving forward with your vision for the volunteering event that you are planning?
  • What is the awareness level across the site or affiliate for the upcoming volunteering activities and achievements?

5. CONSIDER THE REQUIRED QUALITIES IN A PARTNER

  • What is the community partner’s track record in the community?
  • Does the partner have the resources (personnel and materials) to support your volunteering event?
  • Is your primary contact responsive and reliable? Will they follow through on their commitments?
  • What is the level of commitment of the community partner to your company’s goals and objectives through volunteering? Is this important to them?
  • Does the partner share your company’s focus on community investment (if your focus is STEM, is that theirs as well)? How long have they been investing in this focus area?
  • Is the partner able to grow with your company’s interest in employee volunteering?

Some ways we can help

We are working with Boeing, Microsoft, and TechSoup to launch the first ever peer-to-peer collaborative in order to address the prevailing obstacle of global vetting for both volunteering and giving. We will be facilitating meetings in the following cities:

  • Seattle – TBA
  • San Francisco – September 9, 2014
  • Chicago – September 24, 2014
  • Washington – TBA

To learn more about our services you can check out our website (which has some exciting updates in the works),  give us a call at 855-926-4678, or contact us via contact@realizedworth.com.



Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder

New Research: The Challenges and Solutions of Going Global

This research focuses on the particular challenges of global engagement and the solutions companies are using in the real world to overcome or minimize these challenges.

By Angela Parker

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-smiling-business-woman-holding-earth-globe-isolated-white-image32104541What’s the Fuss All About?

Several years ago, a corporate executive told Realized Worth he is tired of not being able to answer news outlets when they ask: What is your company doing with volunteer programs around the world? “I need to know what’s going on globally,” he told us. In 2007, LBG Associates and LBG Research Institute had anticipated this need and published Global Community Involvement, a research study that provided the first comprehensive look at companies taking their community involvement programs global. That study led companies to better questions and new solutions, so LBG Associates took the research one step further.

What Do We Do About it?

In July of 2014, LBG Associates and LBG Research Institute published Global Employee Engagement: Challenges and Solutions. This research looks beyond simply what’s going on globally and focuses on the particular challenges of global engagement and the solutions companies are using in the real world to overcome or minimize these challenges. To gather this information, LBG Associates interviewed 36 multinational companies and six service providers. They also gathered benchmarking data on the various employee engagement programs via online survey.

Global Engagement Challenges & Solutions

Realized Worth had the privilege of assisting LBG Associates in recruiting sponsors and participants for this research. We had high hopes for the results of the study and we’re excited to say, our expectations have been exceeded!

First, here are a few highlights:

  • More than three-quarters (72%) of respondents have a workplace giving program for their employees in at least one location.
  • 11% said they offer workplace giving at all locations and 44% said at selected locations.
  • About 17% said workplace giving is only offered in the U.S. In this study, workplace giving is most commonly offered in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and India.
  • All of the companies in the study have a formal volunteer program in their home country. The majority (78%) said that the corporation supports the volunteer program as opposed to the foundation.
  • Fifty-three percent hold a company-wide service event in the headquarters country and 38% hold such as event outside the headquarters country.
  • Nearly 74% of companies in the study have a Dollars for Doers (DFD) or volunteer grant program.
  • Half of the companies require 21 to 40 hours of service for a volunteer grant. Thirty-two percent require 20 hours or fewer and 18% require more than 40 hours.

View the study for more!

Here are a few examples of challenges addressed:

  1. Global Program Management – “It is impossible for a few corporate citizenship staff members at headquarters to manage multiple programs in multiple countries by themselves.” We couldn’t agree more. CSR practitioners should be managing a process, not individual people. LBG’s study breaks the challenge of Global Program Management into three distinct categories: Managing Across the Miles, Communicating with Volunteer Councils and Champions, and Communicating with Employees. For each section, solutions are offered with best practice examples.
  1. Nonprofit Vetting – Vetting outside of a company’s home country presents a major challenge for companies across the board. Who does the vetting? How can we more effectively gather information from nonprofits? What about controlling costs? How do we hold global nonprofits to corporate equivalency standards? These questions and more are addressed in the study with relevant solutions.
  2. Global Volunteering & Employee-Directed Giving – Within Corporate Citizenship programs there are two main tactics for engagement: volunteering and employee-directed giving. Each tactic presents specific challenges such as sustained participation and finding appropriate NPOs. Each one of the study’s participants face these challenges and have implemented solutions detailed in the study.
  1. Disaster Relief & Recovery – We were not surprised to see Disaster Relief listed as a major challenge companies face. Most companies have local or global locations that have been directly affected by disaster and they need to offer employees a meaningful way to respond.”Companies with comprehensive disaster response plans have already established processes and procedures for determining the when, where and how they will respond.”The study outlines examples of what “established processes and procedures” look like and provide suggestions for companies that do not yet have such methods in place.

These are just a few of the multiple challenges addressed in LBG’s research. At Realized Worth, we hear about these challenges on a daily basis from companies around the world who are looking for the very same solutions offered in the study. Take a look and share with others in the field – together, we’re changing the conversation and taking employee volunteering and giving to a new level of maturity.


Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth

Realized Worth works with companies to design and implement corporate volunteering programs. Our focus is on engaging employees in these programs in a way that fosters leadership development. Give us a call, email us, or comment below to discuss how we can partner with you to reach your goals. (855) 926-4678 or contact@realizedworth.com.

About LBG Associates
LBG Associates is a woman-owned consulting firm focused on designing, implementing, and managing corporate citizenship and community outreach programs and initiatives. Founded in 1993 by Dr. Linda Gornitsky, LBG Associates is committed to providing clients with creative and innovative solutions in a personal, professional, cost-effective, and timely manner.

About Angela
Co-founder and senior partner of Realized Worth. Focuses primarily on business development and account management. Prior to launching Realized Worth, Angela spent more than 10 years addressing the challenge of building programs relevant to both the volunteer and the community being served. Angela is currently an MBA candidate at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. She is also working on expanding Realized Worth’s global thought leadership through workshops, webinars, and speaking engagements.

Corporate Volunteering & Giving: Why Employees Determine Success

Your employees are evaluating the value proposition of your company’s volunteering and giving program against a truckload of options and personal commitments. If you don’t know what will motivate them, you’re dead in the water.

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By Chris Jarvis

In our work with clients we always begin with the employee. What does the employee want out of the experience of giving and volunteering? Obviously the strategic impact of employee giving and volunteering must be considered. Understanding the desired results for both the company and the community are of paramount concern. Yet the starting point must be the employee.

Why?

1. Employees determine the success of your program.

Employees are the primary actor in generating the real value. As we’ve pointed out in our Transformative Value series: Talk to almost any CSR manager and it becomes quickly apparent that despite the best-laid plans and resources, without middle manager and front line employee support – failure is inevitable.

So – you need the broad support, participation, and leadership of your employees or you will significantly reduce the potential of the company’s entire CSR strategy.

Try this – Use an Empathy Map

Or this – Check in to see what your participating employees really think

 2. Employees, not strategies, create change.

Employee volunteering and giving programs are about culture change first and strategic impact second. Don’t get me wrong, employee volunteering and giving programs that are not aligned to the company’s core strengths and the communities real needs are doomed to languish in the old philanthropic model of charity work. That’s not terrible, but it may be a wasteful use of valuable resources.

However, employee volunteering and giving programs are key instruments in positively affecting your company’s existing organizational behavior patterns. There are a number of studies providing insight on why this is the case.

So – Remember that your employee’s participation will be the most important resource generating the internal benefits you may be hoping to realize.

Try this – Use the Three Stages of Engagement to dramatically impact your company’s culture.

3. These are voluntary programs.

Believe me, that’s a good thing. Once community investment programs are totally integrated as part of people’s “jobs” the effect of the experience is dramatically reduced. It is the voluntary nature of giving and volunteering that triggers our brains to release the required chemicals to elicit changes in our behavior and actions.

So – employee giving and volunteering programs must be designed with the understanding that there is a tremendous amount of competition for the hearts, minds, and time of the employee. Is your program right for the employee?

Try thisOffer employees the opportunity to do good (voluntarily) as a reward or recognition for their performance or achievements.

Together, the community, company, and employee come together as elements of a complete three-dimensional logic model. All three groups should realize important and meaningful outcomes and impacts through a company’s citizenship program.

By beginning with the employee’s perspective you will ensure your company’s giving and volunteering program is able to achieve higher levels of impact for the community and the company.

Try this – Think through your program using CATWOE

Or this – Here are four simple steps to choosing the metrics that will allow you to understand the cause-and-effect relationships between employee volunteering and your company’s performance.

We can help!

The Realized Worth Global Team has extensive experience with benchmarking and measurement. Our strategic partnership with Corporate Citizenship enables us to offer the skill and experience you need.

Realized Worth works with companies to engage employees in their citizenship programs. If you’d like to hear more, leave a comment below, give us a call at 855.926.4678, or email us at contact@realizedworth.com.


Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder