A question commonly posed to Realized Worth is, “Can you give me an example of a company that has a great corporate citizenship program?” If we’re being honest (and we usually are), the answer is an unequivocal “No.”
There is not one company that has every aspect of their corporate citizenship program figured out. There are however, companies who are well on their way. Take for example, Ball Corporation and their recently launched “Let’s Can Hunger!” campaign.
(Full disclosure: Ball Corporation is a client. Extra full disclosure: We absolutely love working with Ball Corporation.)
Here are 4 elements of “Let’s Can Hunger!” that can serve as excellent tips for companies and non-profits alike when planning their own corporate volunteer campaign.
1. Offer Unique Value
Your employees can volunteer anywhere and they can donate to their favorite charity anytime. After giving 40-60 hours at work, why would they give even more of themselves to the company through volunteering? What is the unique value they receive when they choose to volunteer or give through the company?
Through the “Let’s Can Hunger!” campaign, Ball Corporation offers the following unique value:
- Camaraderie, Teamwork & Competition
Employees leave their titles at the door and collaborate on teams. (See more details on team structure under tip #2.) “From encouraging each other via email, to interacting in the hallways, to sorting cans at the Food Bank, employees get to know each other in a context entirely different from the usual,” Jennifer Hoover, director, social responsibility & community engagement at Ball, said “The competitive nature of “Let’s Can Hunger!” only adds to the camaraderie and enthusiasm for working together toward a win.” This kind of a-typical interaction results in higher satisfaction at work. A recent Gallup poll states that when an employee can say they have a friend at work, they are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job.
- Alignment with Business Initiatives
A major area of production for Ball Corporation is packaging – including cans. Because “Let’s Can Hunger!” is essentially a canned food drive (albeit more complicated than the typical drive), employees are given the opportunity to connect the work they and their company do to something more meaningful than the daily grind. When employees make this connection, they care more about the work they produce and are measurably more productive. (See this study on the benefits of employee volunteering.)
“Let’s Can Hunger!” gives individual employees the freedom to determine their own course of action. “Within the boundaries given by Ball, teams are free to identify their own “style” – they can name their team, create incentives, appoint leaders, assign volunteer roles – teams can even submit photos of can sculptures to a contest,” Hoover added “One team lead offered to bring in two cans for every one can his team members brought in. Another offered to buy dinner for the participant who brought in the most cans.” Studies show that autonomy is a basic human desire and when people feel they have this latitude, the results are impressive. Potential benefits include greater employee commitment, better performance, improved productivity and lower turnover.
For more on this topic read ‘Corporate Volunteering & Giving: Get the Motivation Right!’
2. Empower Employee Leadership
One out of four of your employees are already volunteering somewhere (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). They already have causes they care about and they are already intrinsically motivated to give back to their communities. These people, the ones who are educated and enthusiastic about volunteering, are your influencers. Find them – and then meet them at their highest level of contribution. Some will be ready to lead an entire team, others will want to be called upon for specific activities, some will only be ready for a minimal level of participation. Not all volunteers are the same, but most programs make the mistake of treating them like they are. Be sure to read ‘The 3 Stages of the Volunteer Journey‘
To meet people at their highest level of contribution, Ball Corporation has implemented a tiered structure for “Let’s Can Hunger!” that looks something like this:
Team Leads – This role is held by those employees that are probably already asking colleagues and friends to volunteer with them throughout the year. For one reason or another, they understand why it’s important for individuals and companies to give back to the community and they love encouraging others to participate. These guys are ready to lead – and they’re ready for their potential to be recognized. All they have to do as a Team Lead is be who they are. In Ball’s case, this means inviting others to participate and equipping them with what they need to have a great experience.
Team Members – Team members are happy to participate, but they need to be asked and then given a specific role. They’re ready to be part of something meaningful, but they won’t join in if they don’t feel needed. Team members are givers, they’re enthusiastic, and they’re worth investing in because they’re on the journey toward becoming Team Leads. “Let’s Can Hunger!” is equipped with an online portal where team members can choose specific volunteer roles to take on throughout the campaign.
General Participants – Some people aren’t quite sure where or how much they want to be involved. “Let’s Can Hunger!” provides space for the general participant by allowing anyone to bring in cans for a team – even if you didn’t get a chance to sign up on that team. Participants can also just donate money to the campaign online if that’s all they’re ready for.
One of the most important benefits of this approach is that over time it takes the unrealistic responsibility of single-handedly running the program off of the manager’s plate. Employee Volunteer Programs cannot (and should not) be run by one person – or even a few people. To avoid acting the part of a bottleneck, it is essential to manage a process as opposed to trying to manage individual people.
Admittedly, relationships between corporations and non-profit organizations (NPOs) are not historically the easiest – but things are changing. NPOs are getting savvier and corporations are realizing the enormous benefit NPOs have to offer. Find a partner who will take some weight off your back. Look for one who can help you offer the “unique value” from tip #1 above.
Ball’s partner for “Let’s Can Hunger!” is Community Food Share (CFS), the food bank that serves Boulder and Broomfield Counties in Colorado. Ball not only found a partner with a direct connection to the products they make (cans); they also found one that could provide a ready-made program for corporations. Each year, CFS holds a “corporate challenge” which is a friendly competition among a select group of local companies, to raise both dollars and food. Corporations of all sizes participate and winning companies earn actual prizes. CFS provides the opportunity Ball needs to meet employees at their highest level of contribution by offering a variety of opportunities for volunteers to get involved – whether they’re ready for committed, hands-on work or they simply want to donate a few dollars online.
4. Remember the “Why”
Maybe this tip goes without saying – if it does, you’re probably already on the right track. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, logistics and competition of a campaign like this. But remember, the reason you’re doing this is to make a difference on three levels: for the community, for the company, and for the individual employee. Check out ‘4 Steps to Connect Corporate Volunteering to Corporate Performance‘.
“For Ball, it’s a privilege to partner with Community Food Share because they do amazing work in the community – and it’s a great business connection since so much of that work is connected to canned food,” Hoover said. More than 50 local basic needs agencies rely on CFS for free food to pass on to their clients. They also operate programs like Feeding Families which provides free food to families with school-children living in poverty.
This is amazing work, but it’s important to emphasize that a few weeks of collecting cans is not going to solve food security issues. It’s not going to solve hunger – people are going to remain in need even after the corporate challenge. What is taking place is a moment to step outside ourselves – into a space that we may not naturally find ourselves in – where we can remember who we are and what’s important. The “Let’s Can Hunger!” campaign is not about how many cans are collected, or who wins the challenge – it is about being present to a need in the community and becoming better people by being just a little bit more conscious of what is received when we give.
So if you can, remind your employees to step back from “doing” during your company’s campaign and take a moment to consider what they’re part of. Ask them to think about the people being served or the cause they’re addressing. Ask them to consider the incredible role companies have to play in changing the world and to observe the community needs their work represents and let it take affect on them personally. This work is not only about making a difference – it’s about becoming different. For more ideas read ‘10 Minutes to Make Your Employee Volunteer Program Great‘.
We can help!
The Realized Worth Global Team has the skill and experience you need to help you create an outstanding employee volunteering and workplace giving program. We will work with you to engage employees in your corporate citizenship program. Give us a call if you’d like to talk further – 855.926.4678. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ approximately 15,000 people worldwide and reported 2012 sales of more than $8.7 billion. dcx