The Future of Employee Engagement: Empowering Transformation

Up until just a few years ago, most men and women who worked in some facet of corporate social responsibility or employee engagement were accustomed to finding themselves in awkward conversations at dinner parties. Conversations that went something like this:

“So … what do you do?”
“Well, I’m in charge of employee volunteering and giving at my company.”
“Yeah, I set up programs to make it possible for employees to volunteer and make charitable donations through the company. There are a lot of benefits to it.”
“And they pay you for that?”

Thankfully, it’s 2015 and the conversation is taking a positive turn.

young beautiful hipster woman success aviator glasses

By Angela Parker

These days, students are graduating with degrees in corporate social responsibility, writing their Master’s Theses on the business benefits of employee volunteering and looking for jobs at companies that are investing in local communities. The number of Fortune 500 companies that offer employee volunteering and giving programs is nearing 100% and the resources available to them are increasing at an exponential rate. Times have changed and the role of the CSR practitioner is more valuable than it’s ever been. So … what now? What can we expect for the future of employee engagement and volunteering?

From Transactional Volunteering to Transformational Volunteering

In the past, typical volunteer activities were transactional; volunteers would show up, do the work, and leave. While transactional volunteering is not inherently a bad thing, it’s certainly not good enough. The purpose of empowering employees to volunteer is to enable them to become more connected to marginalized people and issues – so connected, in fact, that they become the kind of people who make better decisions because of their experiences. This is the kind of volunteering that leads to significant business benefits such as higher rates of productivity, healthier employees, increased recruitment and retention rates, and greater employee engagement overall.

At this year’s 14th Annual Charities@Work Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship, transformational volunteering will be a theme referenced throughout the day. As emcee, I promise to share some practical ideas for making volunteering transformational at your company. You can also join an energetic and engaging speaker, Derrick Feldman, as he shares research on engaging with Millennials.

From Metrics by Numbers to Metrics by Impact

Despite the progress in the field, effective measurement remains a hard nut to crack. Which metrics are valuable? When should we start tracking them? How do we motivate people to report the information we’re looking for? And how can we prove that these metrics lead to a real return on investment? While researchers and practitioners are tackling these questions, one thing has become clear: numbers, such as participation rates and dollars donated, do not necessarily equal impact.

CSR reports were originally modeled after financial reports, but when companies began reporting numbers like 1 million volunteer hours donated, the public began to ask: so what? What did the hours do? What are they doing now? How have lives been changed? How is the world a better place? And perhaps most importantly, was it worth your company’s time? Simply reporting numbers is no longer good enough. The future expects reports on impact.

This year’s Charities@Work Best Practices Summit welcomes Bea Boccolandro, a highly sought-after thought leader and community involvement consultant who leads the way in methods for measuring impact.

From Siloed Efforts to Collaboration

And finally, as the field asks better questions about metrics, we are led to more effective methods of making a difference. Past years have seen too many companies and organizations duplicating efforts and wasting resources. For example, multiple companies have sent groups of volunteers to work on water scarcity issues in Ghana. Why aren’t they working together to develop better, more efficient solutions? Another example is nonprofit vetting. A staggering fee is paid by each company to vet the same organizations. Why are we doing this? Well, the answer is clear: it’s our only option. Or at least it used to be.

This year’s Charities@Work Summit will present IMPACT 2030, a global collaboration between the United Nations and the private sector, created to mobilize corporate volunteers to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Through IMPACT 2030, companies are empowered to collaborate. They become part of a global movement in which their influence, commitment to corporate volunteering and thought leadership are powerful tools to inspire the private sector to positive action.

Multiple partners of IMPACT 2030 as well as members of the executive committee will attend the Best Practices Summit this year. Join Sue Stephenson, from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group and vice-chair of the IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee to learn more about the initiative and how your company can move from soiled efforts to collaboration.

Join us in empowering transformation at the Charities@Work Best Practices Summit! You can find more information at or contact John Douglas at 571-451-2874 for further details.

Thoughts? Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter, or send us an email at

Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
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It’s OK to be a Choosy Volunteer

With all kinds of menial, unpleasant tasks an organization could potentially assign to you, volunteering can end up being a chore. But does it have to be? With my limited experience as a volunteer, I believe I’ve come up with a quick test to identify whether the volunteer opportunity you may be considering is the right fit for you. It’s as simple as asking yourself a couple of questions.


By Anthony Doran

I spent a few months interning with Realized Worth in the summer of 2013. During my time there I developed a better understanding of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) field and some of the keys to successful employee volunteer programs (EVPs). In a blog I wrote during my internship I outlined some organizational benefits of effective EVPs.

Although I was working at RW and writing about the benefits of EVPs, I had very little volunteer experience. In the fall of my senior year I knew I wanted to take on something new. So when a cute classmate took to Facebook to find volunteers for a community center, I signed up. It was a clear win-win situation: minimal commitment and, at worst, I might get to hang out with said cute girl, not to mention the added volunteer experience would bolster my resume as I entered the job market.

At the community center I volunteered once a week as a counselor for the after-school daycare program. Most of the children I worked with were under the age of twelve and required extensive supervision. I didn’t particularly enjoy the “babysitting” role I had acquired. So instead of constantly negotiating the terms of homework with young kids I decided to focus my attention on an older age range. It was really rewarding; I collaborated with a fellow volunteer and a staff member at the community centre to start the youth mentorship program, an after school program for teens to help them with homework and to hone important skills like time management, how to write a resume, and discuss things like post-secondary plans. The two experiences were very different for me: The work I did with the younger children felt like a chore, whereas, the work I did with the older kids was something I looked forward to every week.

Around the same time, I came across an article on a recently published book called Give and Take by Adam Grant. Grant, the youngest tenured Professor of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, is a well respected social scientist. His book discusses in depth the role individuals play in society: as either givers, individuals that look to help others; matchers, people that look to trade evenly with others; and takers, individuals looking to get as much as possible from others. In his research he found that many highly successful people were in fact givers, but that the trend wasn’t consistent; many givers also act selflessly to their own detriment. What distinguishes successful givers from unsuccessful givers is the fact that successful givers are selective in the ways they give. Successful givers help others in areas that the givers themselves excel in, which make their contribution both effective for the receiver and often enjoyable for the giver.

This very approach is practiced by industry leaders in the CSR world. Microsoft, an innovator in the CSR field, has programs where employees visit relatively undeveloped educational institutions and teach basic computer skills. Similarly, Forge54 attracts young marketers to donate their time (54 hours straight to be exact) to help revamp the brand and marketing strategy of a select nonprofit organization.

If I’ve learned anything from my small body of volunteer experience, it is to be selective in choosing where to donate your time. For the future, I’ve adopted two basic questions as a quick check:

  • Will this opportunity allow me to do something I enjoy?
  • Will this feel like a chore?

How you answer these two questions will determine whether it is a likely fit. Don’t stop volunteering, just be more selective!

Anthony Doran
Former intern
Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn


23 CSR & Corporate Volunteering Conferences for 2015 (UPDATED)

It’s that time of year again! Realized Worth presents all the best CSR and corporate volunteering conferences of 2015. This list is limited to those events that address the niche issues facing CSR practitioners; you’ll notice that all-inclusive conferences on general issues such as sustainability are not included. If you’d like to list those events or any CSR and employee volunteering events we missed, please do so in the comments section! Also, connect with us on Twitter or Facebook and send us a note and tell us where you’ll be – we’d love to say hello.


2015 Corporate Volunteering Conferences


1. Benevity “Goodness Matters” User Conference

January 28-30
Miami, FL
Benevity users only

If you’re a Benevity user, this conference is a must! Last year, Realized Worth had the opportunity to attend and it was one of the best events of the year. We were amazed at what a difference it makes when like-minded people looking for similar solutions comes together to learn and brainstorm. And if you’re in the market for a new workplace giving platform, Benevity may be right for you. You can check out their website at

2. Sponsorium International Conference

February 8-10
Miami, FL
Members only


Miami is the place to be this winter! Sponsorium will welcome corporate representatives from across the globe to present and discuss case studies, best practices, practical workshops and, for the third year in a row, the Sponsorium community investment award! If you’re attending this event, let us know! Realized Worth’s own Chris Jarvis will be presenting and co-founder Angela Parker will moderate a panel. You can learn more about Sponsorium and their online community investment management software at

3. Pro Bono for Social Good

February 23
Budapest, Hungary

20.000 HUF for corporations (About $75)
10.000 HUF for NGOs (About $35)

Realized Worth is honored to join the National Volunteer Centre this February in Hungary! This interactive conference will bring together both foreign and domestic partners to discuss pro bono best practices, creative ideas for innovation, and limitations to the pro bono landscape. To stay up to date on the discussion, follow the conference’s Facebook page here. Just click on “see translation” for the english version of posts.

4. CECP – Board of Boards: Winning on Purpose

February 23, 2015
Time Warner Headquarters, New York, NY

Invite only

Not being a CEO of a large company myself, I haven’t personally attended this event. However, Forbes gives it a pretty incredible review, calling it one of the top three “power player” events for CEOs. This is a half-day, closed-door networking discussion, limited to 50 leading global CEOs. The event provides the opportunity for peers to discuss purpose-driven solutions to business challenges. Sounds like a great day – let us know if you’re one of the lucky invitees!

5. Global Pro Bono Summit

February 25-27, 2015
Berlin, Germany

Invitation only

If you’re attending this event, we hope to see you there! The Global Pro Bono Summit is the annual gathering of leaders from across sectors and professions with a shared vision to make the talents and skills of the business community accessible to organizations serving our collective good. We’ll look for updates following the event and share the knowledge gained from the impressive group of presenters and attendees.


6. ACCP – The Conference

March 8-11, 2015
Hilton Downtown, Nashville, TN

Member: $2,300
Non-Member: $3,000

ACCP develops corporate leaders who integrate philanthropy in their business goals while creating social impact. This year’s conference will help practitioners achieve the greatest impact with the resources they have, even when those resources don’t feel like enough. Join ACCP in Nashville and harness the collective creativity and energy of the profession to take your programs further than you imagined.

7. Charities@Work - 2015 Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship

March 23-25, 2015
Crowne Plaza Manhattan, Times Square, New York, NY

Fall Summit Registration (early bird): $495
One Day Registration (same price for every day of the summit): $350

The Annual Charities@Work Summit gets better every year, and it doesn’t hurt that our very own Chris Jarvis once again has the privilege of acting as emcee. 2015 is the Summit’s 14th year and will focus exclusively on the future of employee engagement. Attendees will interact with speakers from a variety of backgrounds, professions, and fields, all aiming to deliver key strategies for making employee engagement matter. Work teams, hands-on volunteering, peer-to-peer conversations, engagement labs and engagement tools are sure to make the 2015 Summit the most engaging one of the year. Read the article we wrote last week for a few more details on this event.

8. HR People and Strategy, Inc. – The 2015 HRPS Annual Conference

April 9-22, 2015
The Biltmore Hotel, Miami, FL

Registration fee (before March 6): $1,300-2,225

HR, employee engagement, and community impact have become inseparable corporate priorities. The 2015 HRPS Annual Conference will help you link theory and practice while providing proven, real-world strategies to take back to your business. Learn how industry leaders are addressing top business challenges by managing rapid change, analyzing big data, increasing mindfulness, and more.

9. Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship – 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

April 19-21, 2015
Hilton, Austin, TX

Early Bird (Member): $1,495
Early Bird (Non-member): $1,795
Regular (Member): $1,995
Regular (Non-member): $2,295

It’s been a couple years since RW has been able to schedule the BCCC conference, but we love this one for the incredible opportunity to spend time with all of our CSR friends. Everyone in the field attends this event to hear peers, learn about best practices, and learn how to execute meaningful corporate citizenship visions. This is an inspiring event with great people and – let’s just admit it – really great food. You’ll walk away with new friends and new tools to go back to the office motivated and energized.

10. European Volunteer Centre – Volunteering in European Welfare & Social Services (VIEWSS) CEV – Capacity Building 

April 23-24, 2015
Zadar, Croatia


If the fact that this conference is taking place in Croatia is not enough motivation to attend, Realized Worth can attest to the incredible work of the organizing agency, the European Volunteer Centre (CEV). CEV is a European network of over 80 national, regional and local volunteer centres and volunteer support agencies across Europe. Together, these organizations promote and support volunteering through advocacy, knowledge sharing, capacity building and training. The conference will provide opportunities for participants to gain insight into innovative and new approaches to volunteer management, as well as into the role of volunteer centres in the volunteering development and community as a whole. A maximum of 100 participants are expected to attend. If you have employees in Europe who manage volunteers, send them to this event! We promise it will be worth the time and expense.

11. Council on Foundation – Annual Meeting

April 24-28, 2015
Marriott Marquis, San Francisco, CA

Early Bird (Member): $1,000
Early Bird (Non-member): $1,200
Regular (Member): $1,400
Regular (Non-member): $1,600

At the Council on Foundations’ Annual Meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with global leaders from across philanthropy to develop the ideas and strategies that will shape the future. The conference addresses some of today’s most pressing issues with industry thought leaders, decision makers, senior program staff and foundation trustees.! The 2015 Annual Meeting promises to be the premier forum for the discussion of strategic ideas driving the field of philanthropy. Over 60 organizations will attend and share their expertise in “Council Central” with over 1,100 of the leading decision makers representing family, corporate, and community foundations.

12. Ceres Conference 2015

May 13-14, 2015
The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA

Early Bird (Member): $500-1,000
Early Bird (Non-Member): $650-1,300

This conference is mainly focused on sustainability issues, but RW has found it helpful for related challenges as well. Ceres takes their commitment to sustainability seriously, evidenced by the “green” packaging at the event and refreshments provided by environmentally friendly local businesses. Each year the Ceres Conference brings together more than 600 corporate sustainability leaders, the country’s largest institutional investors, and leading social and environmental advocates to mobilize action on the world’s most significant sustainability challenges.

13. CECP- 2015 Summit

May 19-21, 2015
New York, NY

“This event is limited to representatives from CECP-affiliated companies. There is no cost to register.”

If you’re not already affiliated with CECP, we recommend looking into membership. This is the same organization that puts out the incredible Giving in Numbers report each year – research that we use at Realized Worth on nearly a daily basis. At the annual summit, CECP shares cutting-edge research, provides the opportunity to hear the CEO perspective in panel discussions, and features keynote speakers such as President Bill Clinton, General Colin L. Powell (Ret.), Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, and Anthony Wilder Miller, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. We hope you can attend.

14. Cause Marketing Forum - Where Purpose Meets Profit 

May 27-28, 2015
JW Marriott, Chicago, IL

Member: $945
Non-Member: $995

David Hessekial and Megan Strand have been putting on this stellar event for years. In fact, in 2014 they put on the first Canadian iteration of the Cause Marketing Forum and it was a massive hit! We look forward to joining David and Megan this year and are already eager to see so many of our CSR friends who are planning to attend. Similarly to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship conference, the Cause Marketing Forum promises incredible networking, great insight into the field, and inspiration for those days when the gig gets a little tough. We hope to see you there!


15. NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) – 20th Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference

September 8-9, 2015
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

NCVO and VSSN Members
Early Bird: £ 260
Regular: £ 290

Early Bird: £ 347
Regular: £ 376

If you’re in the UK or can make an excuse to cross the pond this fall, this is the primary UK conference for the voluntary sector and volunteering research community. The conference brings together academics, practitioners, and policy makers with a shared interest in the voluntary sector and volunteering. There’s also a special session taking place for “new” researchers, so students and researchers who want to shift their focus should definitely attend.


16. US Chamber of Commerce – 2015 Corporate Citizenship Conference

October 5-7, 2015
Washington, DC

Fees TBA

Details about this year’s conference are yet to be posted, but the Chamber consistently provides insightful resources and valuable networking at its annual events. The Chamber’s Corporate Citizenship Center is known as a leading resource for businesses dedicated to making a difference. For more than 10 years, the Chamber’s programs, events, research, and relationships with key NGO and governments have helped businesses as they work to make the world a better place.

17. Sustainable Brands – New Metrics 2015

October 6-8, 2015
Boston, MA

Registration Fee: $1,995

It’s a pricey one, but it’s a lot of fun! The SB community started the “New Metrics” conversation in 2011 and began working toward translating environmental and social impacts into corporate financial performance indicators. This is the kind of measurement we’ve all been looking for! We look forward to hearing the insights presented at this year’s conference which promises impressive speakers, inspiring attendees, and great information.

18. Sustainable Brands 2015

And if you can’t make it to the SB event in Boston, don’t fret – there are multiple events around the globe to choose from. Fees and further details can be found on the SB website.

  • March 18-19, 2015, Bangkok, Thailand
  • April 27-28, 2015, Barcelona, Spain
  • May 26-27, 2015, Istanbul, Turkey
  • June 1-4, 2015, San Diego, CA
  • August 25-27, 2015, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
  • September, 2015, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • October 12-13, 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“Sustainable Brands® events were founded on the belief that unleashing the best of our human ingenuity and innovation can change the shape of business, and with it, the world. Connect with professionals from different perspectives and disciplines in an optimistic, collaborative environment, and create a shared vision of what is possible. Attend an upcoming event and learn more about our past events by watching video highlights.”

19. Points of Light Institute: 2015 Conference on Volunteeing and Service

October 19-21, 2015
Houston, TX

Fees range from $300-700
Click here for details.

Like the Boston College and Charities@Work event, the annual Points of Light (POL) Conference is an incredible place to meet and reunite with all your favorite people in the field. This year’s conference will mark the 25th anniversary of POL, now the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service. Points of Light was founded by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 to encourage all citizens to engage in volunteer service. President Bush’s son Neil chairs the Points of Light board. This year, the conference presents multiple tracks to appeal to all types and sectors. Extensive details can be found at the website.

20. 2015 Independent Sector Annual Conference

October 27-29, 2015
Miami, FL

Fees TBA

Realized Worth has not had the opportunity to attend this event, but we’re impressed by the topics plus the speakers and attendees they’ve welcomed in the past. IS Conference is an opportunity for people from across the nonprofit and philanthropic community to examine pressing issues facing our organizations and the communities we serve. The conference uses innovative formats to draw on 
the expertise of staff and board members from nonprofits, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs. If you attend, let us know how it goes!

21. Net Impact – Annual Conference 2015

November 5-7, 2015
Seattle, WA

No price yet, but sign up here to receive details as soon as they’re posted.

One of these days, RW will make it to this event. We love Net Impact and the work they do – and we love Seattle! This event is the leading forum for students and professionals who want to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. If you are a millennial, you’re recruiting millennials, or you work with millennials, attend this event! In addition to the 10 conference tracks, 100 sessions, and 300 speakers, each Net Impact Conference offers a whole host of special events, including networking opportunities, boot camps, offsite business tours, and impact workshops.

22. International Association for Research on Service-learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) – 2015 Conference

November 16-18, 2015
Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA

Early bird: 250 €

The IARSLCE annual research conference is targeted to scholars, practitioners, students, and community partners interested in research on service learning, community based research, campus community partnerships, and civic learning outcomes in P-20 education. Attendees include faculty, administrators, and scholar-practitioners in higher education, community partners, educators in K-12, and professionals and leaders in educational policy and community development.

23. VolunteerMatch Summit – Come Together

Fall 2015
Oakland, CA

Free for VolunteerMatch clients
Price TBA for non clients

Day 1: VolunteerMatch Summit – Open to leaders in CSR and employee engagement fields, as well as nonprofit leaders
Day 2: VolunteerMatch Client Summit – Invite only

We love the team over at VolunteerMatch and we are so impressed at the new approach they’re taking to this year’s conference! Rather than keeping the nonprofit and corporate tracks separate, this event will bring these groups together, enabling the collaboration that will empower positive social change. The 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit is the realization of the online VolunteerMatch ecosystem, in which companies, nonprofits, and volunteers come together to connect and learn how we can truly make a difference.

Please let us know who we missed by leaving a comment below, emailing us, or connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter! Be sure to include the date, location, and web address.

Looking for an inspiring speaker for your conference? We can offer a few from our very own Realized Worth team! Feel free to e-mail us at


PODCAST: How to Recruit Paid Volunteers

In December I was honoured to have been invited to join RW friend Josh Schuckman’s Nonprofit Neighbors podcast. Josh and I spent 45 minutes talking about ways to recruit volunteers from the corporate sector and how to identify, motivate, and retain high level Volunteer Champions. We also picked some of our favourite corporate volunteering programs. We at Realized Worth love what Josh is doing with the podcast, and we encourage you to subscribe to get all his content over the coming months.

Here’s a link the podcast. Happy listening and Happy New Year!

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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