How to Make a Positive Impact Without Quitting Your Day Job

Mark Horoszowski

 A guest post from Causecast founder and CEO, Ryan Scott.

Volunteering employees

The other day, we received an interesting email from a young employee who wants to leave her job because her company did not offer a volunteering program. So she emailed us asking for a list of every company that uses Causecast so that she could narrow her employer search.

One of the most important qualities that this woman is looking for in her next company is something we see as an increasing priority for many job seekers, particularly millennials: a robust international corporate volunteer and giving program. This woman wants to be able to use her job to make a difference in the world – however small – from the perch of her office. And she’s not alone.

She reasoned that any organization taking their volunteering program seriously enough to make the investment in Causecast is a company she wants to explore working for.

This inquiry is another reminder that employees aren’t just interested in working for companies that give back – they’re walking away from companies that don’t. Across the world, businesses that hope to attract and retain top talent are being forced to respond to this groundswell of interest in corporate philanthropy.

One study by America’s Charities revealed that

  • 68% of employers report their employees expect them to support volunteerism
  • 50% of employers are moving to year-round engagement with their workplace giving programs
  • 80% offer employees the ability to contribute to nonprofits via automatic payroll deductions
  • 70% offer matching gifts as a component of their volunteering and giving program
  • 60% are incorporating contests and events as a way to make workplace giving programs more fun and vibrant

According to another report, Snapshot 2014: A Rising Tide of Expectations–Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Social Impact, employees expect their companies to provide effective giving, volunteer, and matching gift programs.

All that said, there are still plenty of companies that haven’t gotten the memo that volunteering matters to their employees, or the leaders at these businesses just don’t know how to implement a volunteering and giving program.

So here’s my message to employees that may be chafing at their company’s charitable cluelessness: If your workplace isn’t keeping philanthropic pace with the times, there are several steps you can take before turning in your notice or sinking into the employee disengagement that plagues much of Corporate America.

1. Talk to HR

Make sure your company doesn’t already have a volunteer and giving program in place. If there is one, then why are you in the dark? Strong communications around volunteer programs is essential, and program managers are often under-resourced to get the word out. If this is the case, volunteer to be a community lead who can help engage employees in your company’s volunteering efforts.

Read more about how the most effective programs deputize community leaders: There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Your Employees

If your company doesn’t already have a volunteer program in place, make the case for getting one off the ground. Your HR leader surely has this on her “to-do” list; these days it’s impossible to ignore the flood of information linking a strong volunteer program to increased employee engagement. Convey how passionate you are about the idea of giving back at work and how you would love to engage your co-workers, but without support you have no way to organize these efforts, nor ensure that your company can benefit from this enthusiasm. Keep in mind that volunteering on programs like this can even help you get promoted.

2. Email your CEO

The strongest volunteer and giving programs are championed at the top, so you need senior management to lead the charge. Let your CEO know that you’ve already communicated your request to HR and that this is an important priority for you and other employees. Remind your CEO of the bottom line benefits of volunteering; competitors that have prioritized corporate volunteering are enjoying improvements in recruiting and retention, employee satisfaction, leadership and skill development, brand value, innovation, and community relationships just to name a few. Let him/her know that doing good for the world is good for business.

At minimum, your CEO will respect your proactiveness. At best, your message will motivate him or her to consider how your company can best step up to the plate, align itself with the philanthropic passions and skills of its employees, and create a volunteer program that serves its community and corporate mission at the same time. You can use the email template below to start a conversation, and also check out this guide about how to gain executive support.

SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO YOUR CEO

Dear [CEO],

I wanted to thank you for your recent [announcement/accomplishment]. I work on the [team], and we have been discussing ways we could start an impactful volunteer initiative in our community that also serves as an employee benefit at [company].

I was inspired to start a program after reading this article about 7 Proven Reasons Why Doing Good is Good For Business.

Would you be open to an official proposal from our team that details our strategy for creating and measuring impact through a [company] community engagement program? Also, if there are any cause efforts within the company that we might not know about, can you please connect me to similar thinkers / stakeholders?

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you!

3.  Get the ball rolling

You don’t necessarily have to wait for approval from on high to light a flame of inspiration (and sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.) Social enterprise firm MovingWorlds.org, which helps match employee skills to global volunteer opportunities, suggests several simple steps that employees can take to show initiative and activate their companies to step up to the world stage:

  1. Source a specific issue to support, and be able to articulate how this program will deliver measurable progress against it.
  2. Look at published case studies to help suggest a specific program and do research on its feasibility at your company.
  3. Identify strategic industry partners, such as MovingWorlds and Causecast, which can help implement these programs.

4. Suggest a roadmap

One excellent report by Points of Light Institute offers a comprehensive action plan for creating a volunteer program. This includes:

  • Creating a plan that outlines the vision and ideal impact of your program
  • Designing a program around employees’ skills, corporate assets, and your company’s core competencies
  • Securing support from the C-Suite and executive-level managers, as well as middle management
  • Cultivating long-term partnerships and opportunities for multiple volunteer projects
  • Integrating volunteering into employee recruitment, orientation activities and supporting materials, and into team-building and social activities at work
  • Collecting data from both volunteers and nonprofits that have received volunteer services so you can measure your impact
  • Communicating with employees and all stakeholders so that you can report on your own impact and share learnings

 

My hat is off to employees – like the woman who emailed us – who let their feet do the talking when it comes to giving back at work. If their companies won’t prioritize their role as corporate citizens, some employees get restless to invest their careers elsewhere. We all want to feel a sense of purpose with our work, so before serving your notice, try serving up some motivation to get your company’s international volunteer program in motion.


Ryan Scott profile causecastThis blog post was written by Ryan Scott, the founder & CEO of Causecast. Causecast is a modern cause engagement solution that helps companies of all sizes manage their volunteer and giving programs and amplify their community impact. This sophisticated platform offers workforce matching donations, volunteering including dollars for doers, disaster response and custom campaigns which leverage social media and automation.


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