With so many truly fantastic employee volunteering programs out there, we couldn’t possibly narrow it down to a measly top 5, but these are a few that stood out to us over the course of the year. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or comment below and tell us what program you’d put on this list.
Intuit‘s We Care and Give Back Program includes Dollars for Doers, donation matching, and team grants. The motivation behind this program was to better engage their staff. The thing is, most companies set a Dollars for Doers amount of about $15-20 per hour starting at 10 hours, sometimes starting as high as 50 hours! Intuit did two things to blow this model out of the water:
They got rid of the 10-hour threshold. They said, “Every hour you volunteer deserves a match.”
They raised that $15-20 per hour to a massive $100 per hour! Now, for every hour an employee volunteers they receive $100 to donate to the nonprofit of their choice!
Intuit is raising the bar for giving and matching programs across the board. At Realized Worth, we think this is exciting because effective volunteering and giving programs will put employee engagement first. By getting rid of the 10-hour threshold and raising the match, Intuit will see two results almost immediately:
They’ll rally a huge number of employees to get involved in their program. They can then channel that initial engagement into longterm, strategic programming.
They’ll attract top recruits to join the Intuit team. 77% of respondents in a recent study indicated “a company’s commitment to social issues is important when I decide where to work.”
We’re proud of our work with Intuit and encourage other companies to consider following their example. Create an easy entry into your program by giving your philanthropic dollars away through employees and watch your program’s participation exponentially increase. Take Microsoft, for example: they lowered their threshold and doubled their participation in one year.
In early November, the members of the Ball Community Ambassadors Council were given stacks of tickets to the upcoming Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanches basketball games. Their task was to give the tickets away to Ball Employees for a reason of their choosing. It could be a conversation starter about the giving and volunteering program; it could be a reward for community work; it could be to encourage them to bring cans of food to the upcoming games. Why cans? Well, I’m glad you asked.
50 Ball employees had volunteered for the Do What You Can Food Drive. Their job was to show up early to the games and collect cans of food and money for the Denver Rescue Mission. Ball volunteers (plus a guest!) received a free ticket to the game. The proceeds from the drive benefitted the Denver Rescue Mission in its work to provide food and shelter to those who need it. The Ball Foundation also made a donation to Denver Rescue Mission.
Now, just doing a canned food drive at a basketball game does not automatically make a great volunteering experience. Here are the reasons we believe this particular event will have ongoing impact:
It’s a great “first stage” space. First time volunteers need a great experience that requires no commitment, includes their families, and promises a lot of fun. Free tickets, a game, and media publicity for the volunteers promised all of those things.
A great first stage space also provides a “brief” prior to the event. A brief is when a volunteer leader takes the group of volunteers aside to explain the logistics of the activity and more importantly, why it matters: why we are here, for whom we are doing this, and why it is important to us as individuals. Because it was difficult to do a brief at the event, Ball did this during the day before the game when volunteers picked up their t-shirts.
New volunteers were provided an easy entry point. Most of the 50 volunteers were not the regulars with whom the Ball Community Ambassadors Council were already familiar. The council can now reach out to those people and see if they’re interested in getting more involved.
It’s connected to Ball’s core business. Ball Corporate makes cans! Collecting and donating canned food is an easy connection to the day-to-day work of its employees.
There are more elements that add to the impact of a first stage volunteering event, but we love what Ball did with Do What You Can.
3. Edelman: The Little Give
Every year, Edelman takes on a program that is a consistent favorite for Realized Worth. Here’s how it works:
To ensure cross-practice and cross-level interaction, the entire office is divided into teams. Each participant donates 48 hours of their time to help 10 local charities and nonprofit organizations with the PR-related challenges they are currently facing. At the end of the 48 hours, the teams gather in celebration to present the results of their time spent volunteering while a panel of judges determines who “wins”.
Edelman employees benefit from The Little Give as they build teams and gain new skills; the community benefits from problems solved and money donated; and Edelman as a whole benefits as their employees become better, more educated people while their reputation increases in the community. The Little Give is wildly popular and eagerly anticipated by employees.
Why does it work so well? Check out this article that outlines the elements that make The Little Give such a great example of an effective employee volunteer program.
Another program that Ball Corporation (among other Realized Worth clients) has seen great success with is TutorMate. Innovations for Learning, a national nonprofit, has been working for more than 20 years to help primary grade teachers be more effective in their pivotal task of teaching students to read. With TutorMate, volunteers can teach a child to read without ever leaving the office. All they need is a computer, a phone, and 30 minutes a week.
How it works:
The school district puts about 40 classrooms up for adoption.
10 employee volunteers are requested per classroom (TutorMate prefers that each company adopt at least three classrooms which requires 30 employee volunteers).
Typically, one company fills three classrooms. Other companies adopt the remaining classrooms.
If one company can’t fill three classrooms (or wants to fill more than three), that’s great! TutorMate can work with any number of volunteers.
Because it requires training, an ongoing commitment, and it is focused on a specific cause (children and education), TutorMate is a great program for second or third stage volunteers. A major factor that makes this the kind of program that can be transformative for volunteers is its proximity to the beneficiary. Listen to Chris talk about the Proximity Factor and why it works here.
Humana is not a Realized Worth client, but we love their overall approach to corporate volunteer programs. With a strong focus on their core business of healthcare, Humana pays attention to the fact that not all volunteers are the same. From playground builds to skills-based fellowships, Humana provides meaningful opportunities for everyone.
Here are two great examples:
Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The foundation and Humana’s IT department developed HEALThESchools.org in 2010. HEALThE stands for Healthy Environment & Active Lifestyles Through Education. The website measures the percentage of students who meet six goals each day: eating breakfast; consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables; avoiding sugary drinks and foods; being moderately to vigorously active for an hour each day; having less than two hours of sedentary screen time; and getting nine hours of sleep each night. Over time, Humana will not only be able to measure the increased healthy activities of kids, but they will also be able to measure the levels of education and awareness of these issues in their local schools and surrounding communities.
Humana Volunteer Fellowship. The Humana Volunteer Fellowship is a four-week, full-time, skills-based volunteer initiative. The program is designed to help a designated nonprofit build capacity to make a transformational impact on the organization and the community, while also tapping into the professional expertise and personal passion of a team of Humana associates.
In 2013, the foundation took the program to Green Bay, WI. For one month, five Green Bay Humana associates worked with the Volunteer Center of Brown County to formalize its Neighborhood Volunteer Connection Program into a year-round offering. The Neighborhood Volunteer Connection sends volunteers to provide social interaction and help senior citizens and people with disabilities with routine home upkeep. The team of Humana Fellows created a guidelines and procedure handbook, developed a marketing and outreach plan, established a database to track volunteers, and set up an evaluation plan to measure success.
When all the volunteering work is done, Humana doesn’t stop there. Two major awards are given out every year:
The Spirit of Philanthropy Award is a distinction given to a group or department of Humana associates who display exceptional commitment to the community through volunteerism. Awardees are recognized and given the opportunity to select a nonprofit organization for a $25,000 grant from the Humana Foundation.
Each year, the Humana Foundation honors one Humana associate who demonstrates an ongoing dedication to his or her community. The selected associate will receive the opportunity to designate a $10,000 grant to the nonprofit where he or she volunteers and be named the Volunteer of the Year!
The GSK PULSE Program is ahead of the curve when it comes to global pro bono and skills-based volunteering. Through PULSE, employee volunteers are matched to a nonprofit organization for three or six months (full-time), during which time they contribute their skills in the healthcare field to solve challenges the nonprofit is facing. When the employee volunteers return from their placement, GSK has identified them as catalysts of change and innovation in the company.
Two specific elements we love about PULSE:
Strategic alignment. Similarly to Humana’s program, GSK’s PULSE has a direct link to the core business of the company – healthcare.
Dynamic communication. The PULSE Team excels at communicating the stories and experiences of their volunteers with the rest of the company and the public. With a new post every day, there is constant interaction between GSK volunteers and the public.
These are just a few of our favorite programs from 2014. We look forward to a new year of innovation, impact, and transformation.
Realized Worth is a global consulting firm with a niche focus on engaging employees in corporate volunteering and giving programs, including designing and fully implementing program strategies. Fundamentally, our goal is to equip companies to develop their employees into leaders – leaders whose decision-making is influenced by their exposure to social issues and societal needs. Call us to talk about developing these kinds of leaders in your company! Be sure to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) is the leading premier network in Canada providing members with access to research, networking events, and support involving CSR and sustainability efforts. You may remember last year’s summit, where CBSR presented The Transformational Company Framework, 19 case studies of transformational company qualities in action. The framework serves as a road map to guide companies as they develop their CSR and sustainability efforts. Success in applying this map lies in the next level of the paradigm: how do we align our internal stakeholders and embed social and environmental performance into the corporate culture and operations?
What did we learn at the 12th Annual CBSR Summit?
Aligning culture and strategy is an important direction companies are pursuing. At Realized Worth, for example, we are challenged to align the priorities of CSR managers, foundation directors, and HR managers. When all three of these managers sit down at the same table to design their corporate volunteering program, we experience faster and more effective program implementation. This welcome paradigm shift was the focus of the summit. It was refreshing to hear from different players within a company and how they are working together to align and embed their core business values.
Here are the top takeaways and some action items you can use to make your company a catalyst for transformation:
1. There are never too many cooks in the kitchen
Unless it’s at the annual company holiday party, your finance and marketing departments are probably not going to run into each other. But the times, they are a-changin’. Having the C-Suite buy-in is challenging enough, but now you need to unite your key business players and consolidate their focal points so you are all headed in the same direction.
Start by bringing all your stakeholders to the table. Give them a voice. Listen carefully and find common shared value to build on. In order for any company to achieve sustainable success and tackle any social and environmental challenges, they must work together and be united.
2. Partnerships matter
Long gone are the days where a company’s trade secrets are vaulted up. In an age of free flowing, instant communication, storytellers come in all shapes and sizes. There is greater impact through collaboration. Take the IMPACT 2030 initiative, for example. This is the first collaboration between the UN and the business sector to help achieve the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030 through corporate employee volunteering. This initiative is driven by a public/private partnership where all the stakeholders are united to achieve the SDG goals. Monumental!
Build partnerships, not only with your customers, employees, and shareholders, but with competitors as well. Many of them will welcome the collaboration! They are experiencing similar challenges, after all. How can you work together to achieve a greater impact in the world?
Most importantly, let’s start to walk across the hall to speak with Mary in marketing and Mark in finance and Trisha in the C-Suite. We need to begin by uniting internally to speak the same language and walk the same walk if our companies want to have a lasting impact and achieve a competitive edge.
3. Tell compelling stories
Stuart Brown, Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook reminded us to “take a proactive approach to starting conversations with our stakeholders.” As we’re building partnerships and bringing everyone to the table, let’s not forget how to tell our story in a compelling way. The 500-page CSR reports are great, but they don’t shed too much light on the soul of your company and why what you do matters.
Focus on impact. Do away with 500 pages of numbers and graphs and tell a personal story. Tell your customers how the 2 million dollars you donated to food shelters in Honduras changed the lives of the children in those orphanages. Explain that those kids who now receive daily meals have greater self esteem and better hygiene and decreased health problems which leads to lower health care costs for the country and higher school attendance because they are not sick. Talk about how these children, after 5 or 10 years of your donations, volunteering and sustainability practices, are now better educated and graduation rates have soared. You have contributed to the education and health of an entire generation. That’s the story you need to tell. Compelling stories have greater impact than figures on a page. Change the way you speak and more people will listen.
4. Engage, engage, engage
Deborah Swartz from Accenture summed it up perfectly for me: “… driving changes requires devoted people that are connected, bridge building, listening and responding.”
This is at the core of what Realized Worth does, creating a space where true engagement can occur to transform people and the world around them. Engagement programs may look different from company to company and country to country, but true engagement doesn’t vary all that much. Humans need emotional connections – to their partners, their work, and their volunteer experiences.
Listen carefully to your employees. What matters to them? What is important to your company and how can these interests complement one another? What do they value? It’s time to build our engagement programs within our culture and not around a corporate strategy. Culture always trumps strategy.
Don’t forget to engage all the players. It’s not enough to have one CSR manager driving the company’s entire program. For any program to be successful, everyone needs to care about it. For that to happen, they need to make that emotional connection, which isn’t possible unless your program is embedded in your corporate culture. And how do you get everyone in bed with your program? The old school way … make the bed comfy and warm and invite them in.
Tomorrow, the Realized Worth team will be in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations for an historic announcement. It will be a “call to action” to the private sector to join IMPACT 2030, a global initiative to advance the practice of global volunteering. This is a game changer!
At Realized Worth, we believe the focus and energy of corporations mobilizing and supporting employee investment in community is revolutionary. For years, such actions have been philanthropic and charitable in their objectives. Now companies are tying these activities to concepts such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and shared value. This new strategic alignment has positioned these formally philanthropic activities as essential components of an overall global business strategy. Employee volunteering provides an effective strategy with which to address often negative relationships that exists between business and society. This potential becomes even more profound given the backdrop of weakened nation states and globalized societies.
Corporate volunteering programs work towards a more civil society on a global scale, producing direct benefits for the community, the company, and the employees themselves. Employee volunteering goes beyond the efforts of CSR strategies in its unique utilization of social capital. Corporate volunteering programs enable employees to mobilize their personal resources for broad social benefits. The employees not only leverage the assets of the business, but also combine these assets across broader social networks utilizing trust and localized norms of cooperation.
IMPACT 2030 is a collaboration between the private sector, the United Nations, civil society, academia, and philanthropic organizations.
In 2011, Will Kennedy reached out to Realized Worth about the possibility of doing something to increase the global capacity of corporate volunteering. Will is the Programme Officer at UN Fund for International Partnerships. Together we developed the idea for IMPACT 2030, a business-led global collaboration between the United Nations, the private sector, and civil society organizations. The idea was to work with all sectors to increase the number and impact of corporate volunteers on a global scale. To provide an overarching framework for the initiative, we decided to align these efforts with achieving the United Nations’ Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals over their anticipated 15-year life.
Actions speak louder than words
IMPACT 2030 is a collaboration between the private sector, the United Nations, civil society, academia, and philanthropic organizations. Founding partners and collaborating partners are providing significant financial and human capital resources to establish this one-of-a-kind initiative. Each company has committed to strategically align and mobilize employee volunteer actions towards one or more of the sustainable development goals in the form of capacity building and civic engagement, raising awareness for the significant contribution being made by corporate volunteers around the world.
The big idea
The overall objective is to advance the practice and impact of corporate volunteering to advance the achievement of the post-2015 sustainable development goals. This objective will be achieved through a bi-annual global summit, along with substantive work conducted during the 2 years between meetings. This will leverage the convening platform, global influence, and mandate of the United Nations to promote dialogue and action among leaders across all sectors.
We believe this will advance the practice and impact of corporate volunteering to advance the achievement of the post-2015 sustainable development goals, which includes:
Promoting awareness of the sustainable development goals to the business community globally and the appropriate use of corporate volunteerism to contribute to achieving the goals.
Creating and facilitating avenues for cooperation between companies, the United Nations, governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and civil society organizations to initiate joint commitments and actions where human capital skills and competencies are featured.
Developing a framework comprised of existing definitions and data around corporate volunteering that will create protocols and principles across companies, industries, and regions across the globe that will align with the sustainable development goals.
Creating and maintaining a global diversity of IMPACT 2030 through multi-sector regional voice forums.
Developing and executing a yearly evidence-based research study that tracks both the growing impact of employee volunteering on the sustainable development goals and the collective results of the IMPACT 2030 network on the development agenda.
In September of 2015, the UN will host the inaugural IMPACT 2030 Summit, led by the CEOs and senior executives of the founding partner companies. The summit will be held in conjunction with the adoption of the sustainable development goals.
We are inviting the private sector, NGOs, governments, academic institutions, and noble families to join IMPACT 2030. Together we will provide employees the tools, support, and connections they need to make a meaningful difference in communities where they live and work. Be sure to connect with IMPACT 2030′s newly launched social platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
By now you’re probably knee deep into planning or executing your annual employee holiday giving campaign. If not, you should think about one for next year. According to the Centre for Philanthropy, the average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, and with more companies participating this year than ever, now is the time to capitalize on your employees’ desire to give back.
Like the holidays in general, one of the unfortunate downsides of a big holiday giving push is the inevitable hangover. This month your employees will be bombarded with pleas for generosity wherever they go: when they walk in the door, when they get in the elevator, when they sit at their desk, and even when they go to the restroom. Come January, how are you planning to maintain the pre-holiday level of excitement and engagement?
One way to prolong the enthusiasm is through partnerships with organizations like Kiva.
Kiva is a nonprofit organization with a mission to alleviate poverty by connecting people through lending. Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to support entrepreneurs all over the world. Innocent, in Uganda, for example, is seeking $750 to buy maize and beans which he will resell. People all over the world come together to make microloans on Kiva that are typically $25 in size, and these loans enable people like Innocent to launch his business and pay back the loan over time.
Since 2005, more than 1.2 million Kiva users have loaned more than $635 million to entrepreneurs in 83 countries. Incredibly, 98% of the loans have been repaid.
And now Kiva is setting its eyes on working with corporations to engage employees to get into the lending game. Take HP, who launched the Matter to a Million employee lending program in February 2014. The HP Company Foundation purchased enough gift cards for each of its 275,000 employees around the world, encouraging everyone to lend to the countries, causes, and people that matter to them the most.
The results have been unbelievable: more than 190,000 loans totaling almost $6 million have been processed this year alone. And with a 98% repayment expected, the foundation is able to engage the entire company for a few dollars per employee. Better yet, the program is aligned with its goal of supporting thousands of entrepreneurs around the world who need access to capital to start or grow their business. For five years these repayments will continue to go back to the HP Company Foundation’s Kiva account, which enables the company to keep providing employees with multiple opportunities to lend every year – all without depositing any new funds.
At Realized Worth, we are big believers in using volunteering and giving programs to create deep engagement. This means designing programs that include three interrelated components: an emotional connection, a positive action, and a mechanism to share. Let’s explore how your company can achieve all three of these through a partnership with Kiva.
The extent to which a volunteer or donor is engaged depends entirely on the proximity to the cause she is supporting. Our brains are wired to make connections to personal stories that matter to us. In fact, a recent study has shown that we can make more sense of helping one person, rather than millions. At the heart of Kiva is the opportunity to connect with one person, one business, one cause, one country. You can navigate to a story that connects with you and follow their story to its end. You can see a picture of the person you are helping and the story behind the business he or she is building.
The highest form of contribution comes not when you get involved in a cause, but when you encourage the people around you to join.
Many causes in the 21st century fall victim to shallow clicktivism, the notion that if you just like something on Facebook or Retweet a plea for help, you’ve done your part. The Kiva platform offers a refreshing antidote to digital engagement, because it requires research and choice. Your employees take an action not because someone asked them to, but because they want to. The positive action is simple, easy, meaningful, and personal.
The highest form of contribution comes not when you get involved in a cause, but when you encourage the people around you to join. Sharing is built into the Kiva platform, allowing people to easily share the projects they have supported with friends and family. At HP, some employees took it even further, banding together to support one cause; in one simple action, a group of like-minded employees were able to meet a particular project’s target. This type of sharing leads to deeper engagement every. single. time.
Amani is an independent female artist who got a loan through Kiva. Read her story here.
Whatever your employee giving program looks like, make sure that deep engagement is at its heart. Partnerships with organizations like Kiva have the capacity to provide that deeper engagement for your employees. It also provides a great example of the blending between for-profits, not-for-profits, lending, giving, etc. It’s refreshing to think that there are new opportunities for your employees to get involved in, with methods other than the typical paradigm of fundraising and volunteering. We can’t wait for the day when employees have such a strong emotional connection to the projects they support, they start lending their time and skills to the people behind them.Just the thought of it is enough to cure our holiday hangovers!
Questions or comments for me or the team here at Realized Worth? Leave a comment below, email us, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn. And be sure to visit Kiva.org to see how you can get involved.
Receive all of the services we provide for Fortune 500 companies by signing on for a Cohort Consulting Engagement. Each month, collaborate with others in your field to discuss best practices, address challenges, and receive tools for running a great program.