Points of Light and the HandsOn Network business member program recently released a new series on employee volunteer program (EVP) best practices. The first report - Trends of Excellence in Employee Volunteering Series: Basic Infrastructure – delves into the elements of basic support companies should provide their EVPs to help them excel. The report culls data and observations on the 29 corporate finalists for Points of Light Institute’s Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence in 2010.
Here are three key lessons learned:
Excellent EVPs can be housed anywhere (across functional areas and within internally- or externally-facing groups) – EVPs do not necessarily ‘belong’ to CSR, HR or Community affairs, they belong where there is the most dedication and care.
Excellent EVPs invest an average of $179 per employee (whether they volunteer or not) and $416 per employee volunteer – Robust EVPs cover salary, travel, website/internal communications, project supplies, and recognition items. Community grants and dollars-for-doers are not included in this figure.
Excellent EVPs average one full-time staff person for every 28,000 employees – this is usually achieved by many individual employees sharing a portion of the EVP responsibilities. The figure likely underrepresents the full staff dedication to running an Excellent EVP.
What does this mean for your company?
Your company has a unique culture and resource pool that will shape your employee volunteer program. The rules of thumb above provide guidelines for what is needed at a basic level to create a robust EVP, but they must be tailored to your company. The best resource for helping you shape a compelling and popular community engagement practice is your employee base! Find your most passionate employee volunteers and tap them to lead the EVP effort and help recruit others to participate. Then create a way for all employees to share stories of their volunteer experiences, social impact results and ideas to improve the EVP overall. EVPs are all about employee engagement – so engage them!
You can read the full report here. Be on the lookout for future reports in this series on EVP topics such as dollars-for-doers grants.
As usual, Joe Waters of SelfishGiving.com has zeroed in on the crux of cause marketing and targeted our attention on what matters most. His recent post
“Want to be More Successful? Stop Focusing on Cause Marketing” is a must read for any cause-minded marketers.
His bottom line is that technology is not a magic bullet for cause marketing. Just making it easier to get resources from consumers to nonprofits won’t necessarily result in lasting social impact and miracle bottom line results. This insight is reminiscent of the often overlooked reality that social media is not a marketing strategy; rather it constitutes a set of tools to engage people on marketing content. Technology and tools can only enhance the heart and soul of your cause marketing initiative, it can’t be the heart and soul – unless you’re a robot! You have to do the hard work to create something of value, then technology can help you unleash it.
As Joe asserts, “We need to set aside our tools and focus on what will truly build our success. Only then can we choose the right tool for the work ahead.”
Here are five ways (summarized from SelfishGiving.com) to help us all focus on the important stuff:
1. Start with what you know – your business – and keep those basics top of mind. Cause marketing should reaffirm your core business, not lead you into uncharted territory. Do what you do best, just with a cause-related element.
2. Make your brand central to your work. If the brand doesn’t stand on its own, a cause marketing effort won’t prop it up, and could even look like ‘green/pink/white-washing’
3. Analyze your assets and what value you have to offer a cause partnership or campaign. Then focus on translating that to lasting impact for the business and the cause.
4. Set measurable and tangible goals so you know you’re on the right track. And these should be relevant regardless of what technology you have at your disposal.
5. Design the partnership or campaign with storytelling in mind. Cause marketing provides an opportunity to enhance customer relationships around collectively doing good. The halo effect for your brand and warm fuzzy helper’s high for your customers results from an emotional connection to achieving the social impact goal. The emotional connection requires good storytelling.
Companies & Causes: The Official Blog of the Cause Marketing Forum is featuring great content from the 2011 conference. In a workshop on cause marketing geared for nonprofits, Stevan Miller and Clark discussed 10 non-negotiables for cause marketing partnerships. While the content is from the nonprofit perspective, it’s valuable for corporate partners looking to create thoughtful relationships and drive real impact.
The most important non-negotiable is to develop measurable goals and outcomes. After all, you won’t know if the partnership was a success unless you can measure impact – for both the business and the nonprofit partner. Below are a few tips to help partners communicate effectively, have the best mindset and set the most appropriate expectations.
Prepare for A Moving Target: have a flexible mindset to adapt to changing priorities as the campaign evolves. This may be more applicable to nonprofit partners, but any good corporate partner should take time to set the right priorities from the outset. Campaign mission creep doesn’t do anyone any good.
Be Proactive: maintain open communication among partners and don’t wait until the campaign is over to talk about what went right and what went wrong. Address issues and celebrate milestones along the way so no one is surprised at the end.
Have the Right Attitude: as Miller and Sweat advise, nonprofits should ditch the “We’re just so grateful that you’ve chosen us!” attitude and assert their rightful place in the partnership. Likewise, corporate partners shouldn’t assume that nonprofit partners will be willing to bend over backwards to meet their needs. Cause marketing is at its best when the partnerships are balanced and committed to both positive business and social impact outcomes.
You can read the full post here.
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