Continued from part 2 – Inside workplace giving – The importance of teamwork and the right tools

In 1998, Global Impact launched Caring@Work to exercise our own best practices for workplace giving. To date, Global Impact employees have generously pledged over $1.2 million for local, national and international charities. In 2020 alone, with a pandemic sweeping the globe, the campaign inspired a staggering 97% participation rate. We pledged 1,734 volunteer hours and raised over $47,000 for causes we believe in.

The numbers speak for themselves. Employees want to do more good, and they want to do it together.

In this final post of our three-part blog series, we will discuss how we adapted the program to meet the needs of the virtual work environment and acknowledge the difficult circumstances facing some of our employees due to COVID-19 – both of which drove us to expand the program to include volunteering opportunities.

Shifting gears – How COVID-19 made us retool our philanthropic strategy.

Early on in planning, it was hard not to discuss the challenges many of us were facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the empathy we had for colleagues and friends who might have been having an even more difficult time. How could we expect people to donate when they were facing financial challenges of their own?

By retooling Caring@Work to include a volunteering option, it allowed employees to be a part of the campaign without having to make a monetary donation during uncertain times.

Seed Programs International

As part of this year’s campaign, we partnered with Seed Programs International, a member of our Charity Alliance, to provide a unique volunteering opportunity that the whole family could get involved in from the safety and comfort of home.

Seed Programs International (SPI) is dedicated to alleviating hunger and poverty by providing access to good quality vegetable seeds, shared knowledge and local training around the world. SPI’s approach is to partner with nongovernmental organizations to distribute good quality vegetable seeds to areas in need in order to reduce malnutrition and poverty. They know that by providing people with good seeds and the needed training to grow food, they can help to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, grow livelihood with the abilities for their seed recipients to sell excess crops, help people reduce their dependency on donated food and provide lifelong skills to families and their children.

Taking part in an SPI large-scale seed packing event allows employees to participate virtually with people all over the country who are also looking to give back to people suffering from hunger around the world.

How does it work?

  • Sign up to receive a box or boxes of seeds from SPI.
  • Once the box arrives, follow the instructions to scoop, bag and pack the seeds provided.
  • Provide handwritten, inspirational notes to inspire those who will be receiving the seed packs.
  • Mail seed packs back to SPI or other partner charitable organizations.
  • Take photos and videos of your experience to share on social media and encourage others to participate in a seed packing event of their own, while sharing together in the impact.

Team building is a strong reason for adding volunteering into your workplace giving program. Seed Programs International helped the Global Impact family to participate in a single goal, even while apart. Together Global Impact pledged 52 boxes totaling 5,200 seed packets to be distributed to organizations of our choosing. This opportunity offered staff a greater connection with the most vulnerable among us and allowed us to participate together.

Finding opportunities – leveraging resources like VolunteerMatch

After deciding to give back through volunteerism, locating opportunities can be a daunting task, especially during a pandemic when we want to be able to create impact from our homes or while social distancing.

The Caring@Work team identified resources for virtual volunteer opportunities locally and across the nation including VolunteerMatch. VolunteerMatch is an effective recruiting tool to match qualified volunteers with causes across the country. Easy to use, the platform allows for multiple approaches in locating virtual opportunities, searching by skill level or cause area. For example, if you are interested in causes related to race, disabilities, refugees or hunger, there are preset categories that take you directly to opportunities that match your interests.

Building VolunteerMatch into our workplace giving strategy increased the amount of opportunities available to us and bolstered engagement. Find out how we can apply this same strategy to you and your organization!

Finding personal connections while giving back

Giving back through volunteerism allows people to learn new skills, empower others and make an impact, but it does so much more than that. It allows us to develop empathy, meet new people and learn about other cultures.

Throughout the campaign, staff were asked to share their personal stories of volunteerism and how giving back has helped shape their life. When asked why she loves to volunteer and how experiences have shaped her life, Caring@Work team member Natalie Jacobson had much to say.

“Volunteering is one of my favorite ways to give back. The beauty of volunteering lies in the opportunity: There are so few restrictions. You could be any age, anywhere in the world, possess any skill set and volunteer in countless ways. Our blessings and challenges wax and wane over the years; sometimes we may be in a position to lend a hand frequently, but other years, it could be any one of us who has the hand outreached, asking for help.

“My first experience volunteering was giving speeches to invite others to donate clothing and food, then packing boxes and sorting those items to be sent to hurricane disaster victims in a faraway country. I was 8 years old and remember the feeling of such pride and joy knowing maybe someone would have a slightly better day because of my actions.

“After college, I helped clean up debris and rebuild the country I was living abroad in, which had been devastated by a natural disaster. It was my new home, and my new neighbors needed help. And in turn, I was given the warmest welcome and words of gratitude.

“Years later, I found myself needing help on a legal case when I was a journalist seeking information on a story I was covering. I faced roadblock after roadblock, but thankfully a legal aid organization offered to represent me in court and challenge the blocks. Two years after court battles, we won the case. I could not have done so and been able to report on the information publicly without their aid.

“Volunteering comes full circle. I love being in a position to routinely support friends’ causes when they are in need of support from their community, no matter where we are in the world. And I am fortunate to have access to charitable aid should I be in a place of need. But more often than not, I can benefit from my own volunteerism – gifted with something else that is priceless: a safe, clean environment to play in, a rebuilt community to thrive in, friends whose rights are protected, an experience from which to learn, a story to tell and a hand to hold that held mine in return.”

Getting started

Now is a great time to think about implementing a virtual workplace campaign that meets your employees’ needs and aligns with your philanthropic goals. Tools like our Virtual Employee Giving Hub will help you respond to the unique challenges we currently face and house resources to help you run a successful campaign. Global Impact’s team is available to customize programs and provide guidance to create campaigns that promote engagement especially in the current landscape

Whatever your campaign needs are this season, Global Impact is here to help. Whether you wish to align giving options to reflect employee diversity and interests or you would like to expand your corporate social responsibility footprint, we are ready to deliver the tools, strategy and insights to engage employees and maximize your impact around the world. Reach out to us to start the conversation.