You may have heard us talk about our Virtual Volunteering Accelerator: everything you need to build and launch a virtual volunteering program at your company in as little as four weeks. But what does the Accelerator actually achieve for companies? Can it really be done in four weeks? Here’s an inside look at how Realized Worth partnered with the team at CSAA to strategically design and launch virtual volunteering to the business.
CSAA Insurance Group is a US-based insurance company, offering auto, home, and travel insurance among other services. CSAA is based in Walnut Creek, CA, USA and as of 2021 has approximately 4,800+ employees across North America. CSAA’s mission is to help their members—and by extension, their communities—meet their ever-changing needs.
CSAA has a history of community service through long-standing community partnerships with organizations such as Red Cross and United Way. Further, employees have been empowered to volunteer and give to organizations and causes they are passionate about where they live and work. In an effort to align community efforts with the goals and priorities of the business, CSAA set out to enhance its existing volunteering programming—in part, by offering virtual volunteering opportunities and building capabilities within their volunteer leadership team to facilitate those opportunities in a way that empowers employees to contribute to building equitable, resilient, and vibrant communities.
Before we dive into what we accomplished and how we did it, let us pull back the curtain on the keys to a successful Accelerator.
The Keys to Success
- Center employees in all decision-making. Without employees, there is no volunteer program. And unless we are focusing on not only how employees can impact the community, but how employee can be impacted by the community, we as community impact professionals are not doing our job justice. Equipping and empowering the right employees to create space for transformation in all volunteering experiences—whether in-person or virtual—is the only way to start the type of movement that changes the lives of both community members and employees.
- Ensure you have capacity to do the work. The Virtual Volunteering Accelerator is designed for those who have the time, space, and energy to get down and dirty in the details—not for those who are looking for a quick fix or need more hands-on support to get the job done (but we have service options for that, too!). While our Toolbox gives you the generous head start you’re looking for, it will sit on the shelf if you don’t have dedicated time to devote to decision-making and resource adaptation in the four weeks with us. Our team can help you understand the clear time demands over the four weeks before embarking on the Accelerator.
- Apply a change lens, always. Change is hard anytime, far less when employees are change-fatigued from the need to adapt to a new working environment over the last year or so. Asking employees to spend more time in front of their computers to volunteer may seem counter-intuitive, but research shows that helping others can actually combat the type of fatigue and burnout that people may be feeling right now. Nevertheless, gently and intentionally bringing employees along the change journey as well as bringing in change agents—like CSAA’s Inclusion & Belonging team—to help solidify your new approach in the fabric of the company is critical.
How We Did It
CSAA engaged Realized Worth via the four-week Virtual Volunteering Accelerator to design, build, and launch virtual volunteering to the US market. Here’s what it looked like, week by week:
WEEK 01 – Direction and Intent
Building upon CSAA’s existing volunteering strategies, Realized Worth helped guide intention setting and the direction for the virtual volunteering approach. In CSAA’s case, this meant aligning to the mission of building equitable, resilient, and vibrant communities, and identifying guiding principles under which to navigate program transition and change.
From the get-go, the CSAA Community Impact team partnered with the Inclusion & Belonging team to ensure all decisions were informed by a racial equity and social justice lens.
WEEK 02 – Structure and Support
Realized Worth provided the tools, resources and knowledge necessary for the CSAA team to implement structures that enable scalable, sustainable, and meaningful volunteer engagement; specifically, building a Community Impact Network with the right people in place to lead Transformative Volunteering experiences, and providing them with training and tools to do so.
In the interest of honoring and recognizing the success of precious volunteerism efforts and the employees that led them, while striving to educate and engage employees in more transformational volunteerism, CSAA conducted a series focus groups and 1:1 conversations to gage employee attitudes and readiness for the introduction of a refreshed network and virtual volunteering offerings. Further, the Inclusion & Belonging team informed the potential intersection and engagement with community-focused ERGs across the business.
WEEK 03 – Opportunities and Technology
In the interest of maintaining the ability for employees to volunteer for organizations and causes they are passionate about, while also focusing volunteerism efforts on serving the most vulnerable communities in a way that is business-aligned, Realized Worth guided CSAA through a review of existing community partnerships prior to looking at new ones.
With a flexible approach to employee choice in mind, CSAA leveraged existing internal technologies to support the dissemination of virtual volunteering opportunities, and focused on equipping Community Impact Network leaders to identify and setup additional technology needs for events they are leading.
WEEK 04 – Measurement
Realized Worth provided the tools and guidance to inform the creation of a ‘lite’ measurement framework, aimed at tracking the outcomes and impacts of the virtual volunteering program. Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were set and are being monitored in four categories of outcomes/impact: employee participation, strengthened communities, connection to community, and employee engagement.
- First cohort of Community Impact Co-Leads onboarded to the refreshed CI network. Using the tools and templates provided in the Virtual Volunteering Accelerator Toolkit, the CSAA team completed a first round of recruitment for the refreshed Community Impact Network. Co-Leads were nominate and/or invited to apply for the role, and onboarded within the first month of completing the Virtual Volunteering Accelerator.
- Community Impact Co-Leads completed the Volunteer Leader Training for Virtual Environments. Co-Leads now have all the knowledge they need to find, scope, and run meaningful volunteering events virtually. The training consists of three modules and is provided by Realized Worth as a part of the Virtual Volunteering Accelerator Toolbox.
- Community Impact Co-Leads are further supported, empowered, and connected through a peer-learning cohort. Realized Worth is facilitating a peer-learning cohort for the CSAA Community Impact Network in the three months following the completion of the Virtual Volunteering Accelerator, and the CSAA team will continue to do so thereafter. The purpose of the cohort is to reinforce concepts from onboarding and training, and well as foster a sense of community among the Co-Leads.
- 500+ opportunities screened for CSAA fit and uploaded to the workplace volunteering portal. Using the list of 500+ opportunities curated and vetted by the RW Institute, Co-Leads divided and conquered to make relevant virtual volunteering opportunities available to all CSAA employees.