The CSR Scoop - 5/29/2015

May 29, 2015 5:50 PM ET
Campaign: The CSR Scoop

As we close out the hectic springtime months and look towards a (slightly) calmer summer timetable, professionals across the sectors are hoping to use the extra time to reflect on their work, hone their strategies, and refine their approaches. This week’s scoop features a number of articles to help you do just that. The theme of the week is best practices: volunteer management best practices, employee engagement best practices, CSR job-searching best practices, and more. Check out what the field’s thought leaders are advising and share some of your own tips and tricks with us as well. Happy reading and happy June!

The Scoop:

Sue Holloway, director of Pro Bono Economics, wrote an article for HR Magazine explaining the significant economic and personal benefits of skills-based volunteering, for corporate and nonprofit professionals alike. Holloway makes a compelling argument for pro bono work and provides some excellent best practices for structuring successful skills-based volunteer engagements.

The UK government recently mandated that all companies provide at least 3 days of paid volunteer time to their employees, sparking a heated debate about the critical distinction between volunteerism and “voluntoldism.” Realized Worth took a closer look at the chief criticisms of the policy and concluded that the mandate will - despite its counterarguments - ultimately translate into more volunteers and greater social impact. It will be some time before we have enough data to truly analyze the effect of this policy on Britain’s social sector. In the meantime, how do you predict the mandate will affect volunteerism in the UK?

Jennifer Woodill authored a thought-provoking Nonprofit Quarterly article, which claims that the widely accepted best practices in volunteer management – geared towards efficiency, resource development, and control – inevitably result in social exclusion. She advocates for an alternate, more fluid way of approaching volunteer management that embraces volunteerism as a tool for civic engagement, community development, and social change.

Employee volunteering has to go beyond transactional volunteering to achieve the benefits it promises.

America’s Charities shared a video from its annual Membership Assembly featuring Realized Worth Co-Founder, Chris Jarvis. In the video, Jarvis speaks passionately about the distinction between transactional and transformational volunteer experiences and explains how connecting corporate volunteers to the personal stories and social issues behind a nonprofit’s work can transform them from infrequent, disengaged workplace giving participants into passionate cause champions and lifelong volunteers.

In a testament to the growth and strength of the pro bono movement, representatives from the public sector, corporations, small businesses and nonprofits gathered yesterday at the White House for a summit entitled “Pro Bono Service: Harnessing Time and Talent for Social Good,” and hosted by Points of Light’s Billion + Change, the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Participants discussed the emerging role that corporations are playing in boosting the capacity of nonprofits and the rapidly improving pro bono ecosystem that’s enabling companies and nonprofits to better leverage pro bono service.

A few weeks ago, we shared Quantum Workplace’s rankings for the top 10 cities for employee engagement. Now we bring you: employee engagement rankings by state! We’re sending a congratulations to the most engaged states (Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico) and a rousing “let’s get to it” to those that have the furthest to go (New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Kentucky and New Jersey).

We love Causecast’s suggestion of looking into the breakdown of high and low engaged states as it relates to the percentage of volunteer and giving programs. Enabling employees to engage with their communities has been proven to significantly contribute to overall engagement, so a state-wide trend of investment in volunteer and giving programs is likely a deciding element in these rankings.

Do you think corporate responsibility isn’t relevant to your job? Christine Bader would beg to differ. She has written a great series for the Atlantic about the plentiful and diverse roles within a company that shape its sustainability and corporate responsibility practices. In her final installment, she illustrates how an integrated sustainability strategy can lift the onus off of one individual or department and distribute it amongst every role in the company, leading to a more engaged employee base and a more efficacious corporate citizenship strategy.

“The reality is that there are a limited number of corporate jobs with ‘sustainability’ or ‘citizenship’ in the job title. The good news is there are opportunities to make an impact from all roles within a company, not just from the vantage point of a dedicated department.” – Net Impact

HR departments are often painted as bastions of bureaucracy, upholders of nonsensical rules, and impediments to constructive organizational change and evolution. In an earlier installment of her Atlantic series, entitled “To Do Good in the World, Get a Better HR Department,” Christine Bader refutes this image, arguing that a smart, flexible and forward-thinking HR department will channel a company’s talent and resources to help both its bottom line and society at large.

“Employee perks like errand runners, monogrammed cupcakes, and free puppies must be nice, and no doubt they create a fun recruiting experience; but these days people want more. They want the opportunity to do better and to work for a company with a purpose beyond just frosting. An opportunity to connect with something larger -- and maybe even help make the world a better place.”

Yet despite this evident appetite for social responsibility at work, many corporate programs are still facing stagnated levels of participation and suffer from a misalignment with employee values and desires. WeSpire is here to help; they provide some great tips on how to close the intent-to-action gap and how to build a culture aligned with employee values through ‘employee-led corporate philanthropy.’

Businesses today are facing a tall order. They must attract and retain young, purpose-seeking talent, drive engagement, and strengthen the community – all while turning a profit and appeasing their fiscally-driven shareholders. Companies are responding to this challenge with a variety of tactics, skills-based volunteering being one of the most effective. Another option that’s caused a lot of buzz of late is B Corp Certification. Check out the Financial Post’s article about how B Corp qualities attract millennial hires and read about how Etsy, the second public B-Corp organization, has managed to align “doing good” with “doing well” by making business ethics a core part of their company’s value proposition.

Many companies are integrating the culture of philanthropy into all levels of their organization. And a few, like Infinite Computer, are taking this integration to the next level, by asking their employees to design, own, and execute the company’s entire CSR strategy and engagement plan. Read more about this innovative bottom-up approach to corporate citizenship and let us know what you think about the experimental model.  

Marcus Chung shared some superb advice for professionals looking to start or transition into a career in CSR. The good news? CSR is an area in which companies are investing more and more resources, so opportunities in the CSR field are becoming more numerous by the day!

GhanaWeb released an article urging Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) not to view Corporate Social Responsibility as a preserve of big businesses and corporations, but rather as an accessible and important way to appeal to the values of both customers and employees.

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship released an instructive blog post for companies working to build accurate and transparent corporate citizenship rating and ranking systems.

We often speak of skills-based volunteering as a great way for corporate professionals to develop new workplace skills, network with their colleagues and supervisors, and advance their careers. But it can also serve as a strategic way to break into the competitive nonprofit sector, as demonstrated in Nonprofit Quarterly’s article about volunteering as an entry point to a nonprofit career.

San Diego nonprofit, the Braille Institute organization published a nice piece highlighting how it uses strategic volunteer placement, training, and engagement methods to attract, leverage, and retain top-notch volunteers that, in turn, form the backbone of the organization.  We found Braille’s tips about finding the right fit, providing customized training, and thanking volunteers for their dedication to be particularly on-point.

"Many of our volunteers are extremely high-skilled; they are educated and have PhDs. We want to find the right fit for them, placing them in an area that is fulfilling to them and also beneficial to the organization. We believe they should enjoy a meaningful experience giving back, and also enjoy sharing their skills and capacity."


Join Common Impact at the Massachusetts Service Alliance Conference this Monday to explore ways to effectively leverage volunteers and their contributions, examine leading models in the field, and share best practices. This special day of learning, networking and inspiration will build organizations’ capacity to engage diverse volunteers from all generations in meaningful, mission-driven service.
June 1, Framingham, MA

The forging of strong partnerships is essential for any nonprofit that hopes to maximize its impact in the community and its base of supporters. Join the Foundation Center and the Association of Nonprofit Specialists for How to Build Partnerships That Last, a special workshop on how organizations can utilize relationship-building strategies to extend their networks, identify new potential partners, and strengthen existing collaborative relationships.
June 10, New York, NY

In today's glass door era where corporate decisions are exposed and debated publicly, employee engagement and culture have emerged as foundational business issues, not simply HR problems. Deloitte’s Dbriefs Webcast brings you Employee Engagement and Culture: The Naked Organization, a webinar about why engagement and culture are acute, systemic problems for organizations worldwide and how organizations can utilize new technologies to engage today’s multi-generational workforce.
June 10, Online

Early-bird registration is now open for Points of Light’s 2015 Conference on Volunteering and Service, the largest convening of volunteer, national service and civic leaders in the world. The 2015 Conference will examine how the next generation of change-makers are creating new pathways for direct action and unleashing power to make a difference in the world. 
October 19-21, Houston, TX