Archive for the ‘Corporate Volunteer Programs’ Category

More Employers Allow Paid Volunteer Time Off

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Volunteer screening, volunteer background checkThe Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that more companies are offering paid time off for volunteering as an employee benefit. Over the past few years, the number has increased to 20% among the companies participating in a SHRM survey.

U.S. Bank is among them. Its employees are compensated for up to 16 hours of volunteer time per year each, depending on their length of service with the company. Some go to food banks to serve breakfast. Others help with children’s services organizations. They say they appreciate their employer’s policy, because without getting paid time off, they wouldn’t have time to volunteer.

Studies show that when employers support employees in their volunteer work, the employees feel better about their jobs. In this time of increasing on-the-job dissatisfaction, it can really give productivity a boost. Volunteering can augment whatever low sense of accomplishment employees may feel on the job.

For companies, offering paid time off for volunteering is a smart move. Not only do they benefit from happier employees, but they typically have lower turnover rates – which saves them money. And in many cases, when companies that are unable or unwilling to give pay raises give paid time off for volunteering, their employees are just as happy.

So, if you want to get more volunteers who are happy to help, try pitching your local employers to pay their employees to work for you. The employer and employees will benefit as much as your organization. It’s truly a win-win-win situation!

Is it Time to Start a Corporate Volunteer Program?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIf your company, church or organization has been inspired to step up your volunteer efforts, you may be thinking about instituting a formal volunteer program. You’ll probably have higher participation and more successful outcomes than if you simply encourage employees or members to volunteer on their own.

When you’re ready to start a volunteer program, you’ll need to know how to manage it. Volunteer management software can help you track hours, paperwork, communication and activities. Here are some more quick and easy tips for starting a corporate volunteer program.

  • Focus on what you do best. If you’re a business networking group, then you may want decide to put together a volunteer mentoring team. You might help kids through tutoring, or help teens with job training. You could focus on helping unemployed adults put together resumes or polish interviewing skills. Think about the knowledge and talents that exist in your group, and how to best capitalize on them.
  • Develop a plan. Just as with any major project, you’ll need to manage your volunteer program’s launch. Organize the details, from when it will launch to how people sign up. Delegate by assigning roles to staffers who can best handle questions and assignments.
  • Spread the word. Use all of your standard communication channels, such as company email, newsletters, and announcement boards, along with social media. Set up a Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest account and invite participation. The more people know about your cause, the more potential you have for volunteers and donations.
  • Share your success. After you’ve had a couple of successful projects, it will be easier to mobilize volunteers and the community around your cause. So, make sure everyone knows by posting updates on blogs and social media pages. Take lots of photos, make videos and highlight real-life stories from the people your organization has impacted.
  • Proceed with caution. Use common sense to prevent any legal issues. Don’t publicize on the Web any photos or videos of children or other vulnerable people who cannot understand their implications. Conduct volunteer screening to prevent criminals, sex offenders or others who are unsuitable to come into contact with children or vulnerable populations.

Once you create a solid volunteer program, it will be easy for your organization to give back to your community and build on its success.

How Businesses Can Become More Philanthropic and Boost Their Reputations

Friday, April 13th, 2012

volunteer screening, background check, volunteer credit checkGiving back to the community is a goal of many companies. While the reasons for doing so may vary, the fact is that philanthropy can have significant benefits that ripple throughout the organization.

First, contributing to a livable community can lead to a stronger workforce. When quality of life is high, so is the caliber of people who choose to move to or stay in a community. Eventually, that can come back to favor businesses, as they have a quality pool of employees to choose from at hiring time.

Second, surveys and studies show that employees want to work for businesses that give back to the community.

Third, the community tends to show higher regard and levels of trust for companies that are involved in their communities and support causes they care about. According to a survey by Cone, Inc., 87% of consumers will switch brands or retailers in favor of one that supports a good cause, when price and quality are the same.

So how can the average business become more charity-minded? Following these three simple steps can take any firm from the idea stage to achieving true philanthropy.

  1. Establish a plan. Decide what types of charities to support, or detail the actual non-profits that will be on the receiving end of your efforts. Research charities in your community that align with your company’s objectives. Ask employees for their input so they feel a sense of ownership in the process. When requests come from organizations outside your strict parameters, it’s easier to say “no.”
  2. Establish a giving budget. Set an annual budget that your company can comfortably handle. Determine whether it will consist of cash donations, volunteer hours, in-kind gifts, or a combination of these three. Find out if employees are interested and willing to donate their time to volunteering, and offer them the time off to do so.
  3. Manage philanthropy like any other department. Stick to your budget. Say no to requests that don’t match your objectives. Work your plan and build relationships that boost your company’s reputation in the community.

Then, sit back and enjoy the benefits that come with being a philanthropic company!

How Nonprofits Can Leverage Business Partnerships

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer backgound checkBusiness relationships can make a big difference to a non-profit organization. Whether developing partnerships for financial support, human resource (volunteer) support or product donations, nonprofits should tap into the offerings of local, regional and national businesses aiming to increase their corporate social responsibility profile and do good things.

Reaching out to corporate partners can be uncomfortable at first, but if you have a good development director, it should be a part of his or her job duties. A natural first step might be contacting local businesses, entrepreneurs and community service organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary International.

Finding avenues for business to help your nonprofit in a win-win situation is the key. While an event sponsorship might be a perfect fit for a financial institution, it might be too much for a construction company. You might ask for their help in other ways – like volunteering their employees to perform repairs on your building or to donate a crew for a day to fix up an elderly client’s home.

Another way for a business to become a valuable partner is through cause-related marketing. For example, a company donates a portion of every sale of a featured item, for a limited time, advertising their efforts and creating goodwill among the public.

Still additional avenues for businesses to get on board with a nonprofit are social enterprises and donating products or services. A social enterprise is a business venture that combines profit making with social advancement. An ice cream shop started expressly to donate all profits to a charity is one example. Another is a work training program that restores and sells used appliances, in order to fund its programs to train displaced workers in appliance repair.

For some companies, donating products or services is the easiest way to support charity work in their community. A web design firm may be able to provide your nonprofit with the new website you need—and they may do it for free or a reduced cost. Advertising, event banners, office supplies and food for events are additional ways your local business community may be willing to support your nonprofit.

Be sure to offer publicity in exchange for a business’s good deeds. Adding a logo to a banner, blasting positive posts on your e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter and mentioning your business partners in every interview and story about your nonprofit will demonstrate your appreciation and give the company an enhanced image, which is always a good thing.

Sometimes, all it takes is an ask to start forming valuable relationships with business partners that can really make a difference to your organization’s bottom line!

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Employers: Set Up Your Own Volunteer Program

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkToday, employees are often looking for meaningful work. Younger people, especially, want to make a difference in their lives and are more likely to expect to find purpose in their employment.

In fact, a Wall Street Journal survey in 2006 reported that 70 percent of young people “want to work for a company that cares about how it affects or contributes to society.” Further, 64 percent responded, “their employer’s social and environmental activities inspire loyalty.”

So one can make the case that employees who volunteer are good for the community and for their company. Here are several ways to integrate public service into your company.

  • Pay employees to volunteer. It doesn’t have to be an every-week thing, but consider giving employees paid time to serve others in the community. A half day’s work at the food bank or VA hospital brings meaning and a sense of accomplishment to your employee, while doing a great deal of good for people who need help. Employees often return refreshed and inspired—ready to work hard and perhaps appreciate their jobs a little more!
  • If you can’t spare any employees during work hours, offer perks or financial rewards to those who volunteer on their own time. A $50 gift card to a local grocery store or restaurant, an offer to buy lunch for a week, or just letting volunteers leave a half-hour early for a week are inexpensive ways to reward community service.
  • If you can spare half your employees and run a skeleton crew once or twice a year, organize a half-staff work party. Contact an environmental group to see what outdoor projects a group of your size could help with. Or call the senior center to see if they need any painting or repair work done. Give them half your staff one day, and the other half the next. Consecutive days are not necessary, if that’s too disruptive. Do it on alternating Wednesdays—or whatever your least-busy day is.

Helping employees form stronger bonds with the community and with your company is one big advantage of implementing an employee volunteer program. Try it out and see if you don’t get more than you give!

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: Microsoft

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

volunteer screeningMicrosoft is a big, global enterprise with tens of thousands of employees. The company encourages them to develop their passion and creativity through volunteer efforts, and has several programs in place to support these efforts.

  1. Microsoft matches employees’ donations dollar for dollar when they give to charity. But they take it a step further: they also match volunteer time, and value it at $17 per hour. Through the Volunteer Time Matching program, for every hour an employee gives, Microsoft gives the organization $17, up to $12,000 per employee per year.
  2. Time-matching programs encourage employees to volunteer for causes they support—whether it’s an environmental initiative, civic improvement or health and human services organization.
  3. Microsoft focuses on its community partners, including United Way, HandsOn Network and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, mobilizing employees to support these organizations though the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program.
  4. Employees are also encouraged to step up to leadership roles by volunteering to serve on nonprofit boards and to provide business and tehnology consulting at no cost to organizations that help their communities.
  5. Disaster relief is another Microsoft focus, and during times of crisis, employees give both their expertise and their financial resources.

The results:

  • In 2010, 35,000 Microsoft employees made charitable contributions
  • 4,000 employees volunteered 350,000 hours
  • Microsoft employees, through contributing money and volunteering their time, gave a total of $96 million to 16,000 nonprofits in 2010
  • The top three recipients were the United Way of King County, WA, World Vision International and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Microsoft employees are the largest group of donors for Children’s Hospital
  • The company organized hundreds of fundraisers, including a 5K run that raised $130,000, a national poker tournament that raised $260,000 and an online auction that brought in $500,000.

As long as Microsoft continues to be profitable, charities in Washington State and around the world will continue to benefit from the company’s generosity and that of its employees.

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: The Walt Disney Company

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Disney means fun, laughter and childhood memories for millions of people around the world. Did you know it also means 1 million pledges by kids to take care of the planet? And an extra 3 million trees being planted in Brazil’s rainforest?

Walt Disney himself frequently visited children in hospitals and funneled resources to organizations that help children in need. Since then, the company has had a tradition of supporting the arts, as well, including developing artists, and encouraging the arts among youth and communities.

A truly global presence, the Disney company has employees in 42 countries and resorts on three continents. Employees are encouraged to volunteer through Disney’s VoluntEARS program.

In 2008, Disney employees raised funds and headed up projects around the world. In North America alone., there were over 1,900 projects, totaling over 440,000 volunteer hours given. In addition, employees raised $1.5 million. Worldwide, nearly 500,000 volunteer hours and $1.7 million were raised.

To help employees become vital VoluntEARS, Disney supports efforts with a paid staff that organizes and manages volunteer projects. Since the inception of the VoluntEARS program 26 years ago, more than 5 million hours of service have been donated.

Other ways Disney supports staff volunteer efforts is by providing financial support for charities where employees give their time. In addition, volunteer events are used as team-building exercises and they have an annual awards program that recognizes outstanding employee volunteer service.

To celebrate the VoluntEARS program’s 25th anniversary, the entire company came together to demonstrate the power of volunteerism. In one month alone, more than 25,000 volunteers participated in 650 projects in 37 countries. Now that’s, a big impact for a better world through volunteerism!

Here are a few ways Disney employees have made the world better:

  1. In 2008, the Disney Tri-Team, a triathlon team, raised $240,000 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Since its inception seven year ago, the team has raised more than $1 million for various charities.
  2. The Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund raises money for local charities through employee donations. Disney covers the administrative costs so 100% of donations are invested in the community.
  3. In 2008, the VoluntEARS program received an Excellence in Workplace Volunteer Program award from the Points of Light/Hands On Network.
  4. Disney also received a Visionary Partner Award for work in renovating elementary school libraries and encouraging family reading from The Wonder of Reading.

It looks like Walt’s desire to provide meaningful service to communities worldwide is alive and well today through the Walt Disney Company’s corporate volunteer program !

10 Benefits of Corporate Volunteer Programs

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkAccording to recent studies, customers really respond when companies are involved in helping their communities, with a direct result to revenues. In this economy, with social funding being cut out of state and federal budgets, volunteers are more vital than ever to thousands of non-profit organizations nationwide.

Here are 10 benefits of implementing a corporate volunteer program:

  1. Employee volunteer programs allow corporations to develop more personal relationships in their communities, by sharing their human resources with non-profit organizations in need.
  2. According to a 2003 study called Good Companies, Better Employees, employees that participate in company-sponsored volunteer programs think more highly of their employers, with 63% calling it a great place to work compared to other companies.
  3. The same study reveals that 67% of employees who participate in volunteer programs are fairly or very satisfied with their jobs.
  4. These employee/volunteers also speak more highly of their employers to others, with 54% saying nice things vs. 49% of non-volunteers.
  5. Volunteer activities strengthen work teams, build employee skills and contribute to professional development.
  6. Employers see higher retention rates for employees who participate in volunteer activities. In addition, they are more likely to pursue promotion and development opportunities after volunteering.
  7. Employers can enjoy a higher level of workforce skills when employees volunteer. A 1998 study showed competency improved 14 to 17 percent as a direct result of volunteering.
  8. 51% of employees surveyed in 2007 said they believe an employee volunteer program is the greatest contribution a company can make to a non-profit organization. In contrast, only 37% named financial donations and 8% mentioned product donations as the greatest contribution.
  9. Corporate-sponsored volunteer events raise visibility in the community. Businesses benefit from positive perceptions and free publicity. Good-news stories about employee volunteers often generate greater media coverage, too.
  10. Employee volunteer programs help attract new employees. 62% of 18- to 26-year olds said in the 2007 study that they prefer to work for companies that provide opportunities for them to apply their skills to a non-profit organization’s benefit.

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: REI

Friday, November 19th, 2010

screening volunteers, background checkREI is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative. What began with 23 mountain climbing buddies has become three million members strong. REI specializes in outfitting consumers with everything they need to enjoy the outdoors, selling gear and accessories for camping, climbing, biking, skiing—and much, much more.

Since its founding in 1976 REI has given nearly $29 million to nonprofit organizations. The cooperative’s annual giving budget is about three percent of its operating profits.

REI can also brag it’s been on Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since they began it in 1998. One reason people like to work for REI could be the cooperative’s commitment to stewardship, both social and environmental.

Here are a few ways REI employees give back through volunteerism:

  • Employees identify local programs that need help and that can qualify for over $1 million in grants. REI’s grants program is focused on communities where the co-op is located, where the employees live and where they volunteer.
  • In 2008, that support tallied up to $3.7 million, and over 250,000 individuals donating over 2 million hours of volunteer service.
  • REI employees volunteer thousands of hours each year in service projects to increase accessibility to public parks, trails and waterways. In 2008, they groomed, improved and maintained 14,481 acres of land and 6,500 miles of trails.
  • In 2008, REI’s Charitable Action Campaign raised $1.25 million for nonprofit organizations around the world by matching every dollar (up to $1,000) donated by an employee to non profit. 1350 employees participated, donating $677,000 of their own funds to local, national and global organizations. REI’s contribution of $582,000 took the fund to a record high—even in a tough economic environment.
  • Perhaps the most unusual way REI gives back to the communities that surround its stores while creating future outdoorspeople is through programs that support recreation access and help kids become more active. REI’s Passport to Adventure Program strives to make it easier for children to experience nature and become more healthy for life. The program is growing, with nearly 24,000 kids participating by registering and picking up adventure journals at their local REI store—this is an increase of 71 percent over 2007. Kids can draw pictures, play games and write about hikes and bike rides that REI employees help them plan.

For REI employees, giving back to local nonprofit organizations, helping keep the outdoors accessible, and giving kids opportunities to be outside lines up perfectly with the co-op’s mission and values.

Featured Corporate Volunteer Program: Starbucks

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Starbucks is a global company with a real dedication to the communities it serves. Since its founding in 1971, the firm has expanded its corporate responsibility umbrella to include Diversity, Community, Environment Wellness and Ethical Resourcing.

Under its Community initiatives, the company has a created a program to motivate partners (employees), customers and young people to come together for the greater good.

Starbucks’ stated goal is to encourage employees and customers to contribute more than 1 million hour of community service per year by 2015. With an employee base of 150,000 worldwide, they have a built-in volunteer force ready to be mobilized for change.

One way Starbucks helps is by providing Youth Action Grants to inspire young people to take action and find solutions to problems in their neighborhoods and communities. The company is working toward a goal of engaging 50,000 youth to innovate and create action in their communities by 2015. Starbucks makes grants to organizations that provide training to young people to help them develop skills and knowledge to identify community needs, create and execute action plans, evaluate outcomes against goals, build ongoing leadership skills and communicate success stories.

One grant recipient was an Argentina-based program called Strengthening the Youth for Health Network, which trains young people to produce and communicate prevention messages to their peers through theater, film and other artistic genres.

The Starbucks Foundation, first started to fund literacy programs in the U.S. and Canada, now works around the world to help support the communities in which their coffee and tea is grown. Funds from the foundation also help finance sustainable water-access programs, foster education in China, and rebuild the Gulf Coast of the U.S. after the devastation of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

Starbucks involves its customers through initiatives like (STARBUCKS) RED, a program that allows customers to choose to buy products like a special African coffee blend or pay for their usual coffee drinks and other Starbucks items with a RED card. So far, they have funneled enough money to help purchase 14 million days of medicine for HIV-positive people in Africa.

Examples of Starbucks’ commitment to community:

  • Number of employees who helped rebuilding efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina: 9,000
  • Number of employee volunteer hours in New Orleans: 36,000
  • Total employee and customer volunteer hours in 2009: 186,000
  • Total Youth Action Grants awarded in 2009: $2 million
  • Number of youth engaged in community activities through grants: 20,000
  • Total cash and in-kind contributions toward community-building programs in 2009: $17 million

Not only does Starbucks increase awareness of the need for community building worldwide, the company also provides the means for people to get involved and make a difference themselves—working in communities to provide a hand up, not a hand out. For Starbucks, it’s all about sustainability and creating partnerships that last.