Empathy in Motion: 6 Reasons It’s the Right Online Course for You

What does volunteering have to do with empathy?

By Angela Parker

1. You believe volunteering is generally a good thing, but deep down you think: really? Is it all that important?

We agree! Helping others is great, but now and then life gets in the way and volunteering is just not an option. Does that make you a bad person? Of course not. In fact, we would suggest it makes you a normal person. On the other hand, there are some pretty fascinating reasons as to why human beings started volunteering in the first place – and they just might inspire you to get back into it. With Empathy in Motion, we’ll start by telling you the ancient story of Prometheus and bring you all the way to the present. No shame; just good, old-fashioned inspiration.

2. You secretly like doing nice things for others because of how it makes you feel more than how it makes them feel.

In Empathy in Motion, we’ll suggest that volunteering for “selfish” reasons is the most honest and effective way to make a difference. In fact, the reasons human beings have survived for centuries is due to the fact that helping others makes us feel good. But why? What’s the science behind why volunteering works? We’ll tell you what happens in the brain when you help others and why it feels so good – and we’ll explain why that “feel good” reaction is so trustworthy.

3. You’ve noticed some media hype around the concept of empathy and you want to know what it’s all about.

Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence says, “managers with excellent cognitive empathy get better than expected performance from their direct reports.” On a larger scale, empathy is what drives us to defend, protect, and care for each other. But what does volunteering have to do with empathy?

Volunteering can be a safe, nonthreatening space to interact with our out-groups, developing empathy for them as our assumptions about that group are challenged. Over time, this changes people on psychological, convictional, and behavioral levels. Unfortunately, not every version of volunteering helps people develop empathy. Throughout Empathy in Motion we’ll teach you some simple elements to integrate into volunteer events in order to create the right conditions.

4. You’ve asked the question: Why do people do what they do?

What motivates people? Why do we always complain about being too busy, yet never fail to watch our favorite TV shows? Why do I want to do so many things that I never actually do? We’ll teach you about the two types of motivation, the three levels of motivation and how they all interact. And then, we’ll give you some practical tools to determine how to motivate those around you (your employees, your volunteers, even your kids) to do what you want them to do. Take a look at Daineal Parker’s recent blog for some hints!

5. You’re a volunteer organizer and you’ve noticed that volunteers have very different needs based on their experience and expertise – but what can be done about it?

We’re so glad you’ve noticed this! Volunteers need to be met at their highest level of contribution. If we meet them at a level too low, we’re likely to bore them or burn them out. If we meet them at a level too high, we’re likely to overwhelm and frustrate them. So how do we recognize the signs of inexperienced volunteers? What do they need to be guided toward a meaningful commitment to the organization? And what about long-term volunteers who are on the edge of quitting because they’re getting tired? Is there a way to keep them? During Empathy in Motion, we’ll walk you through the stages of the volunteer journey, how to recognize them, and what they need from you.

6. You’re sick of transactional volunteering that has minimal impact and you want to make a more meaningful difference.

Honestly, we are too. Volunteering doesn’t have to be just another wall painted or garden planted. We’re not saying those activities aren’t good; we’re saying the way they’re done now is not good enough. Transactional volunteering is fine, but we want to teach you how to make it transformative. Volunteering has the potential to make a difference on a grand scale – it can even give agency to individuals to address the limitations of their own circumstances and rise above oppression. With Empathy in Motion, we’ll teach you how to create the space to make that possible.

Enroll now!

Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering is a free online course and it’s open for enrollment now! Starting March 14, 2017, the course offers a new perspective on the power of volunteering that goes beyond the traditional transactional model. Anyone can enroll and can share course details with colleagues, other volunteers, and even family and friends.

You can view or download more information at rw.institute including outlines, overviews, and frequently asked questions. You can simply enroll right now by visiting openSAP.

 Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
Follow Angela on Twitter
Connect with Angela on LinkedIn

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You Go Ahead and Change the World, I’m Just Here for the Blonde

Just northeast of Los Angeles is a mountain range known as the San Gabriels and they are special to me. When the sunlight starts to fade they turn this gorgeous shade of purple, and despite seeing them nearly every day, I have yet to find them unremarkable. They’re why we have words like majestic. I’ll catch myself staring at them when I go out to get the mail, unsure of how much time has passed or what meetings I’m late for.

Come visit us!

I know. I need to.

What’s stopping you?

Work. I’ve got work. But soon!

By Dainéal Parker

Part I: Guy Volunteers to Impress a Girl (The Extrinsic Motivator)

Lately LA has felt more like Seattle with all the rain we’ve been getting, but the previous 5 years have been bone dry. For the San Gabriels, this means forest fires. Like most things ecological, people are both the problem and the solution. Sure, we’re warming up the earth and drying it out and creating ideal conditions for disaster, but we’re also creating groups like Tree People who, because I’m not the only one that cares about these mountains, work and sweat and bleed to replenish them.

You don’t have to live in Southern California to appreciate Tree People. Check them out!

When I first volunteered with them it was because of a girl. This girl (let’s call her Molly), being well aware of my passion for all things environmental, had asked me to come along and I agreed before she could finish the question. Don’t get me wrong: I was excited to spend a day in the mountains planting baby trees. I love hiking and being out in the wilderness, but my real motive was Molly (that’s my cat’s name; is that weird?). This is what’s known as an extrinsic motivator, and I’ll come back to that.

“I remember how good it felt to have done something, anything to make thing things better when it seemed like everything was getting worse.”

The experience was incredible. My fellow volunteers were happy and pleasant and motivated; we were equipped with everything we needed, we understood what we were doing and why, and our proximity to the beneficiary was about as close as it gets. We even got to watch a rescue helicopter take off. If this had been a date, it couldn’t have been going any better.

I’ve since lost touch with Molly (oh, don’t worry; I don’t mean my cat; she’s on my lap as I’m writing this), but she’s not what I think about when the sunshiny imagery of that perfect day comes to mind. What I think about are those trees I planted with my own hands. How tall are they now? Did they even survive? Are they thriving? Could I find them? Would they remember me if I visited?

You don’t remember me, but …

And I remember how good it felt, not being with Molly per se, but to have done something, anything to make things better when it seemed like everything was getting worse.

Part II: Guy Volunteers Just to Volunteer (The Intrinsic Motivator)

These days, when I return to the wilderness for the purposes of volunteering, my heart is all aflutter not so much due to romance, but because of the deep satisfaction and sense of purpose I feel when I’ve got sweat on my face and dirt on my hands. When reminding other planters to put some rocks or sticks around the base of baby Groot so that the sun doesn’t dry out the roots, I fondly recall having once been on that stage of my volunteer journey and suddenly I don’t feel so dead inside.

This is what’s referred to as an intrinsic motivator.

It’s not complicated, I promise. You’ve probably already figured it out.

First-time volunteers are almost always extrinsically motivated. They feel obligated by an employer or parent or teacher; they were seeking a reward (more time with Molly, say) or even avoiding punishment. They are also influenced by their values (in my case, the environment), context (I could demonstrate my usefulness to impress a potential partner), and their situation (just a single guy looking for love among the trees, right?).

“It is imperative that you recognize whether volunteers are driven extrinsically or intrinsically if you expect them to have a meaningful experience.”

The most effective way to motivate this type of volunteer to participate is with what we call a value bundle. I’ll come back to that.

Turn that leaf over (get it?) and you’ll find that more seasoned (get it?) volunteers tend to be intrinsically motivated. They are expecting nothing more valuable than 1. the work itself, and 2. a sense of ongoing accomplishment. In other words, the experience is the reward; the journey is the destination, you dig? OK, no more puns, I promise.

Part III: Guy Makes a Pitch

Having read this, how obvious does it seem? I’m basically telling you that larger birds have more feathers than smaller ones (wait, is that even true?). But listen, if you’re in a position where motivating an individual or team, it is imperative that you recognize whether they are driven extrinsically or intrinsically if you expect them to have a meaningful experience. It also can’t hurt for you (the volunteer) to understand your own reasons for doing what you’re doing.

OK, back to the value bundle. I know you’re excited about that. Actually, you know what? As the editor of the RW blog, this thing is plenty wordy already. What I’m going to suggest is that you enroll in a new program our fearless leader Chris Jarvis is leading called Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering. It’s free, it’s online, it requires absolutely no credentials of any kind to join, it’s just a few weeks away, and yes – this entire blog has been a pitch for it. But the recommendation is sincere. If you haven’t heard Chris speak, well … he has a way of getting through to even the most hardened of cynics (trust me).

Find me on Twitter if you’re heading to the San Gabriels and I’ll see if there’s some trees we can plant. Or we could clean up the beach. Or feed some food insecure families. Or help our furry friends find desperately needed homes. I guess it depends on what motivates you …

Empathy in Motion costs you nothing, and its value far exceeds the price of admission. Enroll now!

Realized Worth is a global consulting firm that works with companies to design and implement employee volunteer programs. We focus on equipping individuals to lead programs in a scalable way, achieving impact for the company, the community, and the employee. Would you like to discuss your program with us? We’d be happy to hear from you! Email us directly at contact@realizedworth.com, or find us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Dainéal Parker
Director of Online Content
Follow Dainéal on Twitter
Follow Realized Worth on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn

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Announcing: Transformative Online Course for Employee Volunteering

In today’s sociopolitical climate, people of all types find themselves engaged in conversations that often share themes of uncertainty, power, or change. Who is in charge? Who holds the keys? Who will decide my fate? What can I do? While the answer may be complicated, the questions affect us all. And we are all invited to play a role in finding a way forward.

By Chris Jarvis

Companies, for example, find themselves in a unique position. Millions of people across the globe spend most of their lives working for companies that influence every facet of their lives, whether they realize it or not. Our jobs affect our happiness, our sense of purpose, the way we treat each other, even the way we vote. Our companies are like mini countries, with unique cultures, rules, and languages; the power they hold in our lives is monumental – and it can be harnessed for good.

“With access and influence over a global workforce, companies have the power to equip humanity to actively embrace the values of compassion …”

This idea of business as a force for good is not new. For decades, corporations large and small have taken the initiative to increasingly focus on sustainable practices, responsible treatment of employees, and community investment. In recent years, companies have even encouraged employees to take time off to donate hours to improving the lives of others through volunteering. But is it enough? Are companies taking sufficient responsibility for their position of power?

In fact, companies are the gatekeepers to transforming society. With access and influence over a global workforce, they have the power to equip humanity to actively embrace the values of compassion, inclusion, acceptance, and empathy for generations to come. All they need is a little guidance, a few resources, and a lot of inspiration.

“Together, we have everything we need to make a difference.”

It is with this grand vision in mind that Realized Worth and SAP, along with Toyota and Deloitte, offer Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering. This is a free online course hosted by openSAP where learners of all types – company, employee, individual – can come together to learn how to act on their desire to make an impact. In Part 1, the course provides a theoretical framework, focusing on how to change hearts and minds and move volunteering from transactional to transformative. Part 2 offers practical guidance on setting up programs and executing volunteer events.

We are pleased to offer this course at no charge with the hopes that our global audience will take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to take action together. Together, we are not powerless. Together, we have everything we need to make a difference.

Join us for Empathy in Motion: The Power of Volunteering, starting March 14th, 2017. Enrollment is open now.

Empathy in Motion: The Power of Volunteering is brought to you by the RW Institute (RWI) and hosted by openSAP. Promotional materials and resource documents are available on the RWI website. Realized Worth would like to thank Toyota and Deloitte USA for their generous support and making it possible to promote Empathy in Motion to global audiences.

Realized Worth is a global consulting firm that works with companies to design and implement employee volunteer programs. We focus on equipping individuals to lead programs in a scalable way, achieving impact for the company, the community, and the employee. Would you like to discuss your program with us? We’d be happy to hear from you! Email us directly at contact@realizedworth.com, or find us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Chris Jarvis
Realized Worth Co-Founder & CEO
Connect with Chris on LinkedIn
Follow Realized Worth on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn

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Without Data, You’re Just Another Person with an Opinion

The following is a guest post from Amanda Bowman via our friends at Emerging World. It has been gently edited for the RW blog. Enjoy!

Measuring the impact of your corporate volunteering program is important. In many ways, the more successful a corporate volunteer program, with more people involved and more time spent, it is likely that more resources are expended and the need to measure impact will become more crucial.

By Amanda Bowman

Many of us work in volunteering because of a conviction. A conviction that it is a good thing to do; and the right thing to do. And for most volunteers there’s a powerful personal feedback loop. It feels good to volunteer, to be of service to someone else and the more aligned you are with the cause the better it feels.

When this happens on our own time, it’s personal choice. However, when we volunteer on company time, the contract is somewhat different. As more companies offer employees time to volunteer during normal working hours, they are increasingly looking at what’s involved and the resources that are expended in a corporate volunteering program and want to know what they are getting for their money.

“… stories move people in a way that numbers can’t.”

The question becomes what to measure. One of the great things about corporate volunteer programs is that they create multidimensional impact. Not only is there an impact on the beneficiaries, host organizations, and their stakeholders, but also on its participants and on the business itself.

Without a compelling business impact story, programs can become unsustainable. This is particularly true for programs that leverage skills and require significant investment in planning and coordination. To answer this, Emerging World has developed a unique and effective way to measure impact on participants and on the business: a cross-company research program specifically for international corporate volunteering programs (corporate international service learning (CISL) programs). The research reaches out to participants who completed their experience in at least previous 12 months. This means that they are able to more effectively reflect on their time volunteering, while insight is gained on the long-term impact in areas including depth and breadth of learning, leadership development, career mobility, retention, and employee engagement. The study also covers aspects of program management and design, and in 2017, measuring how programs build responsible leadership will be examined.

These studies have established the first cross-company research regarding the long-term business impact of international corporate volunteering programs, and demonstrate how to measure the business impact of this approach.

One of the frameworks leveraged in these studies is Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Learning, which is used extensively in the learning and development field to measure the impact of learning interventions. The model proposes that data captured to measure learning experiences varies in quality (or depth). The easiest to achieve, but also the most flimsy is a “Level 1” reaction (i.e., did I like the experience?). This then moves through Level 2 (learning), Level 3 (behaviour change), and through to Level 4 (impact on results).
Many companies already evaluate at Level 1 and Level 2. However, deeper measurement can only be assessed over time, and many programs lack this kind of data. Emerging World methodology provides participating companies with meaningful data at the more advanced levels that help convince Learning & Development of the value of these initiatives, providing senior leaders with information on the tangible impact on business results.

The companies that have participated in the studies say it works for them because:

  • The results are expressed in percentages, making them easy to understand and share with stakeholders.
  • The information complements other evaluation approaches, both the immediate and medium term impact, and measuring of the social impact or impact on beneficiaries of programs.
  • The study asks the same questions of participants from different companies at the same time, which allows for easy comparison.
  • They are able to share experiences and gain insight into areas of program design and implementation through the benchmarking opportunities provided in the study process.
  • The data can be used in different ways for different audiences to meet a variety of objectives.
  • The data helps boost the business case and assess return on investment and the value of the program.

This study answers many questions, but does not provide the whole picture. Numbers and percentages are vital, but as a program manager, you must not lose sight of two other things:

  • Stories are important. Having an opinion counts and stories move people in a way that numbers can’t. Having the data is not an end in itself, but it does allow you to tell a much more compelling story.
  • Social impact is important and needs to be part of your messaging. The studies referenced here show that programs work more effectively when the social impact and business value are aligned.

If you’re interested in finding out more, or participating in the 2017 CISL Impact Benchmark Study (which goes live in February 2017) please contact amanda@emergingworld.com and/or visit the Emerging World website.

Amanda Bowman
Business Development & Partnerships Director, Emerging World
Follow Amanda on Twitter

About Amanda
Amanda focuses on identifying partnership, new business and service opportunities for Emerging World in the areas of Corporate Volunteering and Inclusive Business. Based in London, she brings 25 years of CSR and international development to her work and is acknowledged as a global expert in employee community engagement. Amanda is also an experienced partnership broker with a Post Graduate Certificate in Cross Sector Partnerships from the University of Cambridge.

Realized Worth is a global consulting firm that works with companies to design and implement employee volunteer programs. We focus on equipping individuals to lead programs in a scalable way, achieving impact for the company, the community, and the employee. Would you like to discuss your program with us? We’d be happy to hear from you! Email us directly at contact@realizedworth.com, or find us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.


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