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Corporate Philanthropy & Volunteering Blog

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5 Ways to Summerize Corporate Philanthropy

tropical vacation packages

It’s not just your imagination: summer is getting in the way of getting things done at work.  To the tune of a 20 percent drop in workplace productivity, according to a Captivate Network study, with projects taking 13 percent longer to complete and workers becoming a whopping 45 percent more distracted.

Holy guacamole! (Preferably served poolside, with extra chips, thank you).  Should we all just surrender to the sunshine and rendezvous back in September?

If only.  But how to corral all those wandering minds and keep them focused on work during the lazy days of summer?  

Community Impact Keeps the Doctor Away


This blog was featured in the Huffington Post.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away...and, it turns out, so does volunteering.  

According to a study from UnitedHealth Group, the country’s most diversified healthcare company, volunteering is closely linked to improved health and in some cases even helps people manage chronic conditions. What’s more, the study also found compelling evidence that employee volunteer programs can help businesses in key areas, such as productivity, engagement and synergy.   

Priceless: PwC Volunteers Bring Financial Literacy to the Masses

Financial literacy

This blog was featured in

Financial know-how is one of our nation’s most pressing issues. Efforts to support financial literacy already exist — including programs from banks, brokerage houses, technology firms, professional services companies and from at least 13 states which require personal finance coursework as a high school graduation requirement. Despite these efforts, however, only 35 percent of teens know how to manage a credit card and only 20 percent of teachers feel prepared to teach the subject. 

To help combat this critical social gap, corporate philanthropy initiatives of all shapes and sizes have been created.  Leading companies are working to empower people across the country (and world, in some instances) by putting their core financial literacy competencies to work. 

Professionalizing Pro Bono Volunteering

Powered by Pro Bono

This blog was featured in

I'll volunteer that I’m a big fan of the Taproot Foundation, an organization that's been an instrumental player in the pro bono movement in 2001 and has been steering the way ever since (matter of fact, I’m a new board member of the organization).  Through award-winning programs, groundbreaking thought leadership and partnerships with companies to develop and scale corporate pro bono programs, Taproot works to engage the nation’s millions of business professionals in applying not just their time, but their skills, in the service of the nation’s nonprofit community.

Now I’ve got another reason to salute my friends at Taproot; they’ve just announced the launch of a new platform that will serve as a one-stop shop for nonprofits and businesses engaged in pro bono work. 

“Scale Is Sexy:" Global Conglomerates and Corporate Social Impact

global good

This post was featured in

With more than 300,000 employees in over 90 countries, HP is a large company by anyone’s standards. This size and scale allows them to make an impact in a way that smaller organizations cannot. 

“Scale is sexy,” says Caroline Barlerin, director of global community involvement in HP’s Office of Global Sustainability & Social Innovation, who points out if all HP employees took advantage of the four hours of paid time off to volunteer the company offers every month, it would equate to more service than the Peace Corps. While she doesn’t believe the company will single-handedly change the world, Barlerin is cognizant of the impact a company as large as HP can make through sheer numbers alone, as well as how it can lead the overall dialogue around shared value.

Stepping Away from the Rat Race to Create Community Impact...for a Year

iStock 000021465952XSmall

This post was featured in The Huffington Post.

Employee volunteer programs are one thing, but what about centering your entire enterprise around service? It might sound like a pipe dream, but San Francisco-based Fuse Corps is making it happen.

Fuse Corps is dedicated to helping entrepreneurial professionals spend a year supporting governors, mayors and community leaders across the country to drive meaningful social change.  The company identifies local projects that serve a national need (such as education, economic development or health care), then recruits and deploys highly-skilled professionals and entrepreneurs to help develop and implement innovative solutions.  

Fuse Corps sponsors this change to the tune of $90,000 per annual stipend, allowing selected “fellows” to make a difference at the state and local level in a high impact/high profile project.  While $90,000 sounds like a lot of money -- and it is -- this actually represents a pay cut for many of the people working with Fuse Corps.  But these funds are sufficient to allow Fuse Corps to attract top talent, giving its fellows a year to do nothing but improve their communities.  

A Pro Bono Revolutionary: Taproot’s Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst

This blog originally appeared in

A taproot is the core root of a plant that gathers nutrients from lateral roots and delivers them to the plant so it can flourish.  Which makes it the perfect name for an organization that sees itself as a taproot for the nonprofit sector, drawing nutrients from the business community and delivering them to nonprofits so they can thrive.  

Aaron Hurst launched Taproot in 2001 as a way to make pro-bono service a part of every business.  The company divides its focus amongst three programs: the Service Grant Program, which operates in five cities and engages professionals in pro-bono services; advisory services, which support companies in developing their own customized pro-bono programs; and advocacy, in which Taproot partners with leading foundations, universities and other organizations to innovate new solutions for pro-bono services.  In 2008, Taproot became the leading national advocate for pro-bono service and partnered with the White House to launch A Billion Plus Change, a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars of pro-bono and skills-based volunteering by 2013 to address core issues our communities face across the country and around the world.

Taproot is reinventing corporate philanthropy by changing the way businesses impact their communities through skills-based volunteering.  I had the chance to sit down with Aaron Hurst to learn more about his remarkable organization.

In a Tough Economy, Pro-Bono Volunteering Takes on New Importance


This post was featured in The Huffington Post.

The grim jobs report in May has riveted the nation like a slow-motion train wreck, confirming our darkest fears about a sputtering economy that may be stuck in a stall or, worse, falling. We’re a country of Chicken Littles now, squawking about a double dip recession while wringing our hands and blotting our brows.  Whether or not fears of a fiscal cliff-dive are overwrought or prescient, no one denies that tough times are sticking to us like tar.

So, now is, of course, the worst time to be thinking about “extras” like pro-bono volunteering, also known as skills-based volunteering.  Surely, logic would dictate that the business community stick to its knitting, wait until the recessionary dust settles and then get back to the relative luxury of employee-centered philanthropy.  Charitable efforts like these are clearly best left to flush times, aren’t they?

Pro-Bono Volunteering Provides a Competitive Corporate Advantage

pro-bono attorney volunteering

This post was featured in

I’m a big fan of A Billion Plus Change, a national campaign designed to encourage an ethic of corporate volunteerism in every industry in the country.  This group has already managed to convince more than 140 leading companies to mobilize billions of dollars of pro-bono and skills-based volunteer services by 2013, and they’re not stopping anytime soon.

If corporate volunteering becomes the new normal in workplaces everywhere, imagine what we might achieve together.  I decided to get a sense for the possibilities by reaching out to pro-bono service advocates across different industries.

Take, for example, the legal profession, which has varying requirements for a baseline amount of pro-bono services.  Jeff Haidet, chairman of international law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, as well as a board member for Billion + Change sponsor Points of Light, articulated his position on the importance of pro-bono work with such elegance that I thought his sentiments deserved to be quoted in full rather than paraphrased.

Employee Engagement Ideas and Activities You Haven't Thought Of Yet

An engaged employee

This post was featured in The Sustainable Business Forum.

With summer upon us and sunshine beaming into cubicles everywhere, employees are feeling antsy.  Daydreams of sandy beaches and pina coladas occupy brain real estate once reserved for work logistics; it’s impossible to stop the mind from wandering off to Hawaii, and don’t even pretend you’re not packing your mental bags just like the rest of us.  But worry not - there’s plenty you can do to avoid total employee mental breakdown.

That’s where employee engagement activities become so useful.  As attention spans wane, interactive activities centered around employee volunteer programs can help snap employees back to the present.  These sort of do-gooder activities can unite the team around a common cause while giving staff something to look forward to during the work day, all of which improves employee retention.

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