Introducing RWI …

It was 2008 when the name Realized Worth was born. On Toronto’s Queen Street, Chris Jarvis and I walked the length of the streetcar tracks and painted a verbal picture of the future. We spoke in broad and colorful brush strokes of CSR programs built for efficiency and trainings that inspire action and of volunteering as a conduit for transformation. As ideas took form in the air around us, the months and months we had already poured into developing our business finally began to feel worth the struggle.


“… we are offering people the opportunity to be transformed by the experience of volunteering. We are giving them a chance to give of themselves, realize their own value, and offer that value to others.”


And it was a struggle. We believed in what this company would become, so while we maintained a living with our day jobs,  we spent every spare hour in learning from people who knew more than we did. The most important thing we did those first few years was just listen. And as we listened, the identity of our company took shape.

By Angela Parker

It was a hot evening in Toronto, so we stopped at the park just after Woodbine to sit in the cool grass and continue our conversation. As we watched the evening stream by, Chris’ tone became more reflective.

“Who are we to help companies ask their employees to volunteer? Who are we to ask anyone to voluntarily give their time to anything?”

After a brief pause, he finished his thought:

“But you know what? That’s not what we’re doing. Instead, we are offering people the opportunity to be transformed by the experience of volunteering. We are giving them a chance to give of themselves, realize their own value, and offer that value to others.”

That afternoon, we started referring to the work we were doing as “Realized Worth.”

Needless to say, it stuck.

Since then, the consulting practice of Realized Worth has grown dramatically. We’re proud of our fabulous clients and honored to guide them in the design and implementation of their programs. But the most important thing we do remains what it was in 2008: listening. Our work requires us to learn, to perceive the needs of the field as it changes, to adapt to the challenges practitioners face, and to innovate beyond best practices. Listening requires hours of time spent on special projects, research, and thought leadership outside of our consulting practice. It also requires collaboration with academics and researchers, as well as partnerships with foundations and nonprofit organizations. Together, we learn, push the field forward, and achieve greater ends.

With this in mind, Realized Worth is pleased to announce the launch of the RW Institute. We finally have a platform to take action on the broader issues that are essential to move the practice of corporate citizenship forward and, most importantly, to invite you to take action, too.

What is it?

The RW Institute (RWI) is a think tank founded by Realized Worth. While Realized Worth continues to concentrate its consulting efforts on guiding companies in the design and implementation of volunteer programs, the RW Institute, functioning separately, will focus entirely on broad efforts to advance the practice and theory of corporate citizenship through innovative projects, research, analysis and public policy advocacy.

How does it work?

The Institute is comprised of an association of stakeholders who are committed to removing existing barriers and promoting the practice and theory of corporate citizenship on a global scale. Additionally, the Institute provides a practical mechanism offering ongoing development to employees playing leadership roles in their company mobilizing fellow colleagues towards voluntary pro-social leadership.

This work is expressed through two primary activities:

1. Stakeholder Tables

RWI Stakeholders are invited to initiate stakeholder tables that work towards the removal of barriers to corporate citizenship such as; a) limited resources, b) issues of scale, c) inconsistent global policy and legislative frameworks, and c) limited data to gain buy in and commitments from senior and mid-level managers. Stakeholder Tables typically represent multiple social sectors and form around the themes of practice, projects and research, allowing for collaboration towards shared goals that promote the practice and theory of corporate citizenship on a global scale.

2. Training and Development

The RW Institute offers specialized regional and virtual campus trainings designed specifically for both program managers and employees leading community investment programs across the company.

Who is leading RWI?

The RWI Leadership Council provides oversight on behalf of its identified beneficiaries and benefactors. These volunteers ensure that the Institute achieves desired results at acceptable cost and avoids unacceptable actions or situations and unnecessary risk. Please learn more about RWI’s outstanding leadership council here.

How can you get involved?

There are three ways to actively participate in the RW Institute:

1. Become an Affiliate

Affiliates are entities (individuals or organizations) willing to formally connect to RWI and invest in the establishment and long-term operation of RWI. The investments may refer to financial gifts, in-kind services or goods as well as investments deemed of value by the RWI Leadership Council. Effectively, RWI Affiliates comprise a giving circle that decides together how best to use collected funds and resources to achieve the objectives of the Institute.

2. Initiate a Stakeholder Table

If you represent an organization that has a vested interest in the practice of employee volunteering or giving, you are invited to explore initiating a stakeholder table. These tables of like-minded organizations and individuals work towards the removal of barriers to corporate citizenship such as: a) limited resources, b) issues of scale, c) inconsistent global policy and legislative frameworks, and c) limited data to gain buy in and commitments from senior and mid-level managers. stakeholder tables typically represent multiple social sectors and form around the themes of practice, projects and research, allowing for collaboration towards shared goals that promote the practice and theory of corporate citizenship on a global scale.

Become an RWI Friend

We are looking to create a broad network of like-minded individuals to create massive social change effected through policy, practice and innovation. We’d love to have you contribute your ideas with us and share in the journey towards a better tomorrow.

WEBINAR

Join us on Friday, April 29 for the first ever RWI informational webinar.

  • Friday, April 29
  • 1:00 pm EST

https://realizedworth.webex.com/realizedworth/j.php?MTID=m64097960578c54c4deb298e72a010fdc
Meeting number: 738 193 860

Join by phone
1-650-479-3207 US TOLL
Access code: 738 193 860


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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Virtual Volunteering: Technology’s Gift to Volunteerism

The following is a guest post from David Ohta, a Stanford University student passionate about online volunteering and service. It has been gently edited for the RW blog. Enjoy!

With 2016 now in full swing, we are once again seeing innovative new technology take the world by storm. This year is set to be full of technological advancements, like virtual reality becoming more accessible to the public and the inevitable release of the iPhone 7. As technology continues to evolve, it provides new ways for us to connect with one another and better ways to work together. When it comes to volunteerism, advancements in technology have played a big role in bringing people together to create social impact. Virtual volunteering has been around since the early 90s, but has recently seen an acceleration in adoption amongst nonprofits, volunteers, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams.

Virtual volunteering programs provide flexible, accessible community service opportunities for corporations across the globe. Whether it’s a CEO, an intern, or a remote employee, virtual volunteerism has its own set of unique benefits, providing a viable and advantageous alternative to traditional volunteerism.

david volunteer blog header

By David Ohta

So … what exactly is virtual volunteering?

Virtual volunteering is any volunteering activity that takes place online. Websites like Wikipedia and DoSomething or social services like CrisisTextLine exist as a result of people volunteering their expertise and skills online.

In a recent Points of Light article featuring Jared Chung, co-founder of CareerVillage.org, he outlines some of the advantages of virtual service, like:

  • Engagement: high levels of engagement for first-time volunteers.
  • Flexibility: volunteers can contribute according to their schedules.
  • Ease of access: with no physical barriers, getting started can be as simple as a few clicks from the comfort of your home or office.

But being engaging, flexible, and accessible aren’t the only things virtual volunteerism provides ….

Scalable Impact

The “virtual” aspect of virtual volunteering makes any program highly scalable, making it possible to recruit hundreds of volunteers with little to no complications. The internet’s capacity is, for all intents and purposes, infinite. As a result, the prospect of hundreds of thousands of volunteers acting within a single company in unison to support a single cause is a reasonable expectation. Manpower is a must in working to address any social issue, and such large-scale participation is nearly impossible to manage or officiate in other forms of volunteerism.


The successes of employee volunteer programs can be easily and promptly tracked, allowing for participants to set, achieve, and celebrate the completion of goals with measurable data.


Immediate Success

The transparency of impact is another attractive benefit when it comes to virtual volunteering. Imagine finishing up a week of work at the office after you’ve given 15 minutes of advice online at the end of each work day to find a report in your inbox highlighting just how many student lives you impacted during your week. Now, imagine the emotional boost volunteers will experience as a result of seeing such positive consequences. The successes of employee volunteer programs can be easily and promptly tracked, allowing participants to set, achieve, and celebrate the completion of goals with measurable data.

Like volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping to build a home for the homeless, virtual volunteering targets a need in society and puts “people power” behind the solution. CareerVillage leverages virtual volunteering to address a societal need, namely the nationwide opportunity gap in mentorship education, and works to crowdsource career advice for disadvantaged students (full disclosure: I’m currently an intern with CareerVillage working to provide high school students nationwide with access to mentorship advice and college planning info). By asking professionals from all sectors to volunteer their expertise, knowledge, and experience, CareerVillage is able to provide students with the opportunity to access excellent career advice. If you’re interested in seeing the impact in action, check it out!

Virtual Volunteerism in the Future

With businesses, nonprofit organizations, and workplaces of all varieties quickly adopting virtual volunteering as a viable form of CSR with clear logistical advantages, it is safe to assume that virtual volunteering is here to stay as the future of service initiatives nationwide.

Learn More

Are you a volunteer who is interested in trying out virtual service? Go to volunteermatch.org or All For Good for opportunities.

Want to mentor a student? Go to CareerVillage.

If you’re a CSR professional looking to incorporate virtual volunteering into your own company’s service initiatives, make virtual volunteering a priority for 2016. Track your progress, and let us know what you think about its potential impact.

If you’re a CSR professional interested in piloting a virtual volunteering program with CareerVillage.org, shoot them an email at team@careervillage.org.

Or maybe you’ve already tried virtual volunteering? I’d love to hear about your experience! And even if virtual volunteering is a new idea, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the implementation of virtual service initiatives in the corporate world.


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.

david blog image
David Ohta
Content Marketing Intern, Career Village
david@stanford.edu
Follow David on Twitter
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Why Volunteering is Not Just Volunteering

From the beginning of time, humanity has survived by separating into groups and protecting those who are “in” against those who are “out.” In the days of living in caves, this learned behavior enabled tribes to protect themselves from external threats like wild animals and unfamiliar people who may have been perceived as threats. Today, we have continued separating into groups – or social categories – despite the fact that the threats of early evolution are no longer inherently relevant.

volunteering

By Angela Parker

Most social categories and stereotypes are propagated by society, tradition, and culture. The group to which we belong serves to create and enhance our sense of self. When our group succeeds and another fails, we experience an increase in our status as individuals. Consider the last sporting event you attended. Did your team win? How did you feel?


In-group: a social group to which a person psychologically identifies as being a member.


The sense of identity and personal worth we gain from our group defines who we are. It empowers us to protect, celebrate, and serve others because they are, for all intents and purposes, an extension of ourselves. Conversely, identifying with a group makes it possible for us to objectify those perceived to be outside our group – and in our worst moments, as documented by history, act out violently against them.

Working in groups has contributed to the creation and development of entire civilizations. However, it has also contributed to violence, war, and genocide. Genocide is only possible when the objectification of other human beings occurs on a mass scale, which is made possible through propaganda. Consider the propaganda of the Nazi regime: its themes focused on dehumanizing Jews and implanting a perceived threat. “The crucial factor in creating a cohesive group is to define who is excluded from membership.” When worse came to worse in World War II, the population was prepared to take horrific measures against the group they had come to perceive as “out.”


Out-group: by contrast to an in-group, an out-group is a social group with which an individual does not identify.


The mistreatment of perceived out-groups is an almost daily human experience. From race to religion to age to gender, we constantly see collectives come together and set themselves apart from other groups. The identity that we gain from feeling a sense of belonging is not just a social or psychological behavior; it is also a deeply neurological one. According to research, individuals experience a reduction in brain activity when thinking about someone they perceive as a member of an out-group. Therefore, when they see that individual suffering, they do not react the same way they would for someone in their in-group. What this means is that we do not actively protect people outside our group. We do not feel their pain. We lack empathy. And as a result, we abuse, we neglect, and we objectify.


One can always count on Mean Girls for true insight. 

Thankfully, the evolution of our species is layered and complicated. Beyond our instinct to survive, we are equipped as highly adaptable, emotional creatures. The boundaries around our groups are not impenetrable. In fact, the brain’s synaptic pathways are easily rerouted when we are simply given a reason to identify with an individual who belongs to an out-group. The brain of a study subject will show decreased activity when he or she looks at a homeless person – unless that same individual personally knows a homeless person or has had an experience with homelessness. In that case, his or her brain activity will spike, recognizing that person as someone who belongs. Contact and understanding between in-groups and out-groups enables new neurological reactions, ultimately increasing empathy – and reducing our tendency to objectify fellow human beings.


In nonthreatening contact with out-groups, previously formed conclusions are challenged by interactions, which soon line up with faces and then names.


Volunteering is not just volunteering. Rather, it has the potential to be a nonthreatening space to enable contact between in-groups and out-groups. When volunteer opportunities are provided appropriately and with respect for the sensitive backgrounds and situations of all involved, it becomes possible to eliminate the historically dangerous mindset of us vs. them. In nonthreatening contact with out-groups, previously formed conclusions are challenged by interactions, which soon line up with faces followed by names. Research states that similar, repeat experiences will realign the brain’s synaptic pathways and enable in-groups to expand. Ultimately, experiences with out-groups make them part of our stories. They became an extension of our identities and as such, our empathy circles grow wider, decreasing our ability to assign value based on the group to which a person belongs.

The research referenced above comes from the PBS special The Brain with David Eagleman. Please download to learn more about empathy and the brain.

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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Save the Date: The Best Conference for Your Spring Schedule

While we prepare our annual list of CSR and corporate volunteering conferences, we’d like to give you a heads up about one of our favorites taking place in New York this spring. From March 28-30, the Charities@Work Annual Summit will tackle the topic of employee engagement in corporate citizenship. Emceed by Realized Worth co-founder Chris Jarvis, the conference will welcome sought-after speakers like Michael Norton of Harvard Business School and Jeffrey Vargas, the Chief Learning Officer for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Register here and then let us know you’ll be there – we’d love to see you!

While you’re registering, take a moment to nominate a deserving employee or company for the 2016 Corporate Impact Awards. Submissions wrap up on February 8, 2016, so don’t miss your chance!

The awards are given out under the categories of Corporate Excellence and Individual Partner of the Year.

The Corporate Excellence Award

Honors one corporation for overall excellence in philanthropic giving, employee engagement, or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Nominations are open to any company with an employee giving and volunteer program.

The Individual Partner of the Year Award

Given to an employee of a major company who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in her or his community. This award also recognizes the individual who works to advance engagement (giving, volunteerism and education) within their company and who has served as an exceptional partner to nonprofit partners. Individual Partner award candidates must come from a company that has a giving or broader employee engagement program.

The Corporate Impact Award

An important part of C@W’s Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship. Have an employee or company you want to nominate? Download the nomination packages on the C@W website.


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs. Call us to discuss opportunities for your company, or email us via contact@realizedworth.com. You can also reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter.


Kelly Lynch
Consultant, Project Manager
Realized Worth

Realized Worth has partnered with Charities@Work for the past several years to present their Annual Best Practices Summit.

Charities@Work is an alliance of four nonprofit federations that serves as the cooperative voice for more than 2,000 international, national, and local charities. Their purpose is to provide employers with an efficient way to enhance their employee engagement programs and initiatives and to respond to growing employee interest in a wider range of giving options.

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