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Corporate Philanthropy & Volunteering Blog

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A Fallen Hero's Legacy Endures Through Corporate Philanthropy

Stephen Robinson

The other day, I received the terrible news that Steve Robinson, a leading advocate for veterans and a friend of Causecast, had suddenly passed away.  He died at the age of 51, while working at his desk at Prudential, laboring to the very end to improve the lives of veterans.  

Steve’s work at Prudential was a remarkable example of just how creative and effective corporate philanthropy can be.  As Prudential’s Vice President of External Veterans Affairs, Steve was charged with strengthening and building relationships with military and veteran service organizations and related government agencies, all in the service of helping Prudential be a corporate champion for veterans.  In this capacity, Steve interfaced regularly with his peers in the Fortune 500 and the highest levels of government, including the White House, Congress, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor and the Veterans Administration.

It was a dream job for Steve, granting him the generous philanthropic resources of a company committed to backing his vision for supporting veterans, particularly in the area of employment and in helping returning veterans fully integrate back into society.  The role afforded Steve an ideal opportunity that he never imagined could exist in Corporate America.  

What was amazing is that so much of Steve’s work for Prudential didn’t directly benefit Prudential at all.  As I wrote about a couple of years ago when I interviewed Steve, one of his key responsibilities was to help Prudential develop best practices with regards to veterans employment issues and ensure that the company is a welcoming place for veterans transitioning to the workforce.  But his duties didn’t stop at Prudential’s door; he was also charged with sharing these best practices with other corporate leaders to widen the national support net for veterans.   

Businesses Backing Vets: How Starbucks Created an Army of Support

Businesswoman welcoming veteran

Part of Causecast's ongoing series examining how Corporate America is finding innovative ways to help veterans through its employee engagement programs.  This post was featured in

Memorial Day may be over, but the issues facing veterans continue every day.  With that in mind, I’ve been taking inventory of Corporate America to find out which companies are standouts when it comes to veteran friendly practices. I’m particularly concerned, as we should all be, about the sky-high unemployment rate amongst recent veterans - a rate much higher than that of the civilian population.

That’s why businesses which are addressing this issue hold a special place in my heart.  But savvy companies aren’t hiring vets out of any sense of charity; they understand that by helping veterans they're making a wise business decision.  Vets who have served in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, who have been members of disciplined teams with complex missions, who have done their jobs despite physically and emotionally challenging conditions can, unsurprisingly, become excellent employees in civilian workplaces.  Indeed, the level of skill, leadership and composure our veterans bring to the table is tough to match.

Businesses Backing Vets: Skills-Based Volunteering Helps Wounded Warriors

Servicemen rescue a wounded warrior

Part of Causecast's Memorial Day series examining how Corporate America is finding innovative ways to help veterans through its employee engagement programs.  This post was featured in The Huffington Post.

If you want to get your blood boiling, consider this: many of our country’s servicemen and women who have bravely fought for us in Iraq or Afghanistan must fight for their own disability and medical benefits after they return home.  Between 2003 and 2008, the U.S. military involuntarily discharged thousands of men and women with post traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) related to their service abroad, and denied them the disability and medical benefits to which they were legally entitled.  

Because these veterans were denied the correct disability rating, they did not receive thousands of dollars in monthly disability benefits, could not access military commissaries or post exchanges, and most importantly, lost health care coverage for themselves, their spouses and children.  Many of the veterans impacted had young families, and the loss of health care coverage for their spouses and children was particularly devastating.

When Volunteers Become Voluntold

A corporate volunteer who feels voluntold

This post was featured in The Huffington Post.

Corporate volunteer programs offer such a multitude of benefits that they sometimes seem beyond reproach.  When these programs are executed well, employees get to participate in meaningful work outside of the office that is recognized and supported by their employers; companies earn the appreciation of their employees and communities; and nonprofits benefit from added manpower - especially if it comes in the form of skills-based volunteering.

But as corporate volunteerism becomes commonplace in workplaces across the world, there’s one word that no one wants to hear: voluntold. 

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