Category Archives: Corporate Community Involvement

Corporate Team Volunteer Projects: Benefits, Planning and Impact

Post by BVU Staff:  Roseanne Deucher, Director, Business Engagement

BVU: The Center for Nonprofit ExcellenceMore and more businesses are encouraging their employees to get involved in the community. A CR Magazine and NYSE-Euronext Survey of over 300 companies found that 72% of respondents have corporate responsibility programs and that 77% say these programs will expand over the next three years. Businesses see corporate community involvement as an avenue for brand loyalty, employee engagement, and an opportunity to be viewed as good corporate citizen. BVU has seen this trend translate into an increase in corporate volunteer team projects in Northeast Ohio. In 2013, BVU business members completed almost 300 business team volunteer projects, a 28% increase from 2012.

A group project brings together a group of business volunteers to focus their combined energy, skills and talents to address a need in the community. Benefits for businesses and nonprofits are plentiful.

For businesses:

  • Team building for employees
  • Increased morale and retention
  • Opportunity to have a positive presence in the community

For nonprofits:

  • Raise awareness for the organization’s mission and services
  • Form a strategic partnership with the business
  • Complete a task which you might not otherwise have the resources to do
  • Big impact in a short amount of time

Planning is key to a successful team volunteer project. Our process varies, but here are a few components to help ensure that your project is a success for your team.

  • Volunteers need to feel connected to the mission of a nonprofit and the clients they serve. Survey your employees. What are their interests? What is the best time to get the most participation? Where are your employees currently volunteering?
  • Once you have an idea of how many employees will be participating and what their interests are, it’s time to plan your project. Understand that some nonprofits will have a difficult time hosting large numbers of volunteers, so consider dividing into smaller teams. Team building is sometimes better when small groups are given the opportunity to communicate and problem-solve together.
  • Visit with the volunteer site location beforehand and fully understand the nonprofit’s need. Don’t be shy about pointing out other areas where you might be able to help.
  • Details, details, details! To ensure the project’s success, carefully review and communicate details, from where to park to what to wear.

The day of the project approaches and the volunteers have arrived! Now it’s up to the nonprofit to make sure that the volunteer experience is a rewarding one. As the host for the project, you should:

  • Welcome volunteers and provide an introduction to your organization. Explain not only what your nonprofit does, but who you serve. In addition, whenever possible volunteers should have opportunities to connect with the clients being served.  Engage clients in volunteering side-by-side with the volunteers. If clients are not present, show photos/videos and tell personal stories to allow volunteers to connect the task with the people who will benefit.
  • Be clear on what is expected to be accomplished. Be available to volunteers to guide them and to answer questions.
  • As project host, you are expected to keep the project moving smoothly and communicating the importance of the tasks at hand. If a room is being painted, to the volunteer it’s just painting, but you need to remind volunteers that the fresh, clean paint will be seen and enjoyed by all the clients who use the room.
  • Conclude projects with a debrief. After the volunteers have completed their project, recap the day and allow volunteers to share their experiences. Everyone wants to be thanked – especially volunteers. Most businesses are not looking for a plaque. A simple verbal thank you at the end of a volunteer project can go a long way.
  • As follow-up, personalized thank you emails and notes from the consumers create an amazing personal touch. Share photographs and thank volunteer groups on social media. Here is a full list from Realized Worth on additional ways to say thank you.
Quote to be inline with next section. According to Lisa Jackman, Community Engagement Manager, Hyland Software, says, that “by encouraging our employees to use their time and talents to offer help and effect change, Hyland's efforts are much more impactful and meaningful for both the organizations we serve and our employees. Not only does this allow our projects to have a greater impact, it also allows employees to feel a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, inspiring them to give more – a win-win for both the nonprofit and the local community.

According to Lisa Jackman, Community Engagement Manager, Onbase  (by Hyland), says, that “by encouraging our employees to use their time and talents to offer help and effect change, Onbase’s efforts are much more impactful and meaningful for both the organizations we serve and our employees. Not only does this allow our projects to have a greater impact, it also allows employees to feel a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, inspiring them to give more – a win-win for both the nonprofit and the local community.

Businesses are measuring the impact of volunteer projects for its employees with factors such as employee satisfaction and engagement, skill development, and sales, recruiting and stakeholder effects.  How can you measure the impact of your project?

  • Start with the outputs and report the number of volunteers and volunteer hours. But go beyond and address what was accomplished during the project. Equate the number of volunteer hours to a dollar value. The Independent Sector value of a volunteer hour can assist you in doing this.
  • While you were helping the nonprofit, did you have suggestions for increasing efficiency? Is there a way for the nonprofit to use fewer resources – such as man hours or materials – in delivering its services?
  • Did helping the nonprofit increase their effectiveness and success rate of the services it provides? e.g., for a nonprofit fighting homelessness, the percentage of homeless people served that ended up sustainably housed.
  • Did you help increase reach? Did you expand the capacity of the nonprofit to serve more clients or expand programming?

Now, create your impact statement such as:

“If it weren’t for the volunteer team, nearly 100 families and children in crisis situations would ended their day hungry.”

“Because of the volunteer team…the nonprofit saved over $2,000 in staff time. This dollar amount is now being allocated to expand programming, increase client served, etc.”

“Volunteers did the project in 1 day, where it would have taken nonprofit staff 2 weeks to complete.”

What if your project wasn’t a success? Don’t give up! It takes time for us to fully understand the needs of nonprofits and our business members in order to make the perfect match. Take what you learned from this experience and apply it to make the next project a SUCCESS.

Be a Superhero – Think Pro Bono

Post by BVU Staff:  Judy Tobin, Director, Leadership Development

super hero

It is the start of the day and time to make all that magic happen again. You know that you do great work, you are appreciated and you actually enjoy your job, but at times you may, as we all do, struggle with finding inspiration for your work– day after day. I like to run after a long day at work, and recently an old (some of you may think ancient) song streamed into my ear phones. Although the beat was perfect for running, it almost made me stop in my tracks. In their song, Do it Again, The Kinks sing the following lyrics: “And you think today Is going to be better, change the world and do it again. Give it all up and start all over, you say you will but you don’t know when… Day after day I get up and say com on and do it again…” It made me think. What one thing will I do today that is different, interesting and positive compared with what I did yesterday? Many people find inspiration in helping others. Pro bono volunteerism is one way to feel good and share your area of expertise. The week of October 20th is Pro Bono Week. Taproot Foundation is leading many pro bono providers during this week to educate and inspire individuals and organizations to use pro bono services. Pro bono, which means for the public good, has been around for a long time – but it has been on the rise in the last few years! Nonprofit organizations are in great need of various types of expertise, in the form of volunteer consulting, to help sustain and grow their organizations to meet community needs. Business professionals, retirees and college students are jumping on the pro bono band wagon to find a different level of volunteerism. Typical pro bono engagements may be helping a nonprofit develop a technology road map, marketing plan or business plan, or even coaching a nonprofit executive. Engagements such as these require expertise in the areas of finance, marketing, IT, human resources, architecture and legal. Most projects are defined with a beginning and end in mind. WhatWorkersWant_InfoGraphic_800pxMany studies are showing that organizations that offer volunteer opportunities for their employees have greater retention rates and report higher levels of employee satisfaction. Likewise, many job seekers, particularly younger generations, are attracted to employers who make community engagement a company-wide priority. According to the 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey millennials who volunteer with their organizations are twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive compared to those who do not volunteer. Net Impact’s Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 states that they surveyed individuals who spanned the generations from students to baby boomers and found that workers with societal contributions at work reported a higher level of satisfaction at work (49%) compared to those who did not have volunteer opportunities through work (29%). Net Impact suggests that for job seekers, there are non-negotiable attributes (salary, location) and there are differentiators, such as the organization’s position on community engagement. Often times it’s differentiators, such as this, that will set employers apart, allowing them to attract and retain top talent. So, tomorrow when you wake up to “do it all over again” think about it from a different angle. Is there a nonprofit out there that could use your type of expertise? Where can you make an impact using your skills and expertise? To reference an REM song, which is still old but maybe not as ancient as the Kinks, put a new kind of inspiration into your work and be a Superman (or woman)!

Another Good Reason to Volunteer (and Encourage Your Employees to Volunteer)!

Post by BVU Staff: Kerianne Hearns, Director, Services to Businesses

Jones Day Volunteers

We have talked about the benefits of volunteering before, but the studies on this subject keep coming.  And, they continue to show that volunteering is not only good for the community, but good for volunteers and for employers, too.  A recent study released by UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute for Sustainable Health demonstrates the health benefits for individuals who volunteer.  In addition, the study also highlights how employers benefit when their employees volunteer:

  • the health benefits volunteers enjoy also benefit the workplace – employers can expect lower health care costs and higher productivity from employees who volunteer;
  • volunteers in the study report lower stress levels; other, established research shows that reducing employee stress contributes to higher productivity and levels of engagement;
  • volunteering can develop employees’ work skills, which benefits employer and employee;
  • volunteers report that volunteering helps them build teamwork and time-management skills; fosters stronger relationships with colleagues; and supports professional networking;
  • volunteer activities lead to stronger positive feelings toward an employer when volunteer programs are supported in the workplace.

At BVU, we also hear about these benefits first-hand from businesses in Northeast Ohio that encourage their employees to volunteer in our community.

“We believe that community involvement helps ‘round out’ our people, gives them early leadership experiences, and shows our clients that we share and support their efforts to improve life in Greater Cleveland,” says Chris Kelly, Partner-in Charge, Jones Day.

So, what are you waiting for? Get a group of co-workers together to volunteer for a few hours this summer – maybe outside working at an urban garden – or bring a volunteer project on-site this fall.  You could also plan for a half day of volunteering after a morning office retreat – a great way to promote team building.

Don’t know where to start?  Contact BVU today – we work with over 100 businesses – both large and small – that encourage their employees to volunteer as nonprofit board and committee members, as pro bono skills-based consultants and as hands on volunteers in our community.  We can help you find the perfect way to give back to the community, while keeping yourself healthy and your company strong!

Additional websites to assist you in finding the perfect volunteer opportunity are:

• United Way
• All for Good
• Serve.gov

Advancing Your Career through Volunteerism

Part One: Networking

Advancing Your Career through VolunteerismThere is an old saying that goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” In today’s job market this saying holds true. Networking is essential to not only finding a job, but for career advancement. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals in your field.

By volunteering you will have the opportunity to network with people you might not have met otherwise. When you expand your network to include a nonprofit, the potential to find a mentor that helps you grow as a professional, or meeting a chief executive that offers you a chance at a fantastic new career grows exponentially.

There are many opportunities for networking while volunteering. Charity events and fundraisers are perfect for meeting other professionals who share a passion for the same cause as you. Offer your services to a nonprofit as a consultant and show off your skill set. Serve on a board of a nonprofit and use your common enthusiasm for that cause to start a relationship with other board members.

If you don’t have enough time to dedicate to becoming a board member or consultant for a nonprofit, don’t be discouraged. There are many volunteer opportunities that require only one day of service. Just because these volunteer opportunities don’t necessarily utilize your professional skills, doesn’t mean they can’t be a worthwhile networking opportunity. Chances are you’re not the only one struggling to find time to volunteer. Done-in-a-Day hands on projects are perfect for networking with other professionals

Take the first step towards personal development and start volunteering today. Not only will you get the personal satisfaction of helping a good cause, but you will have a multitude of opportunities to network with other professionals.  If you’re interested in volunteering, but don’t know where to look, contact BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence. We would be happy to help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity.

For more information on volunteer opportunities please contact:

BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Cleveland- (216) 736-7711
Akron- (330) 762-9670
Or visit our website http://www.bvuvolunteers.org

Sources:
http://career-advice.monster.com/job-search/getting-started/volunteering-can-boost-careers/article.aspx
http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/10/living/volunteer-cb
http://www.emergingleader.com/article3.shtm
http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm