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Volunteering
9/3/2015 12:00 AM

New technologies are helping companies expand their employee volunteerism programs through “virtual volunteering” options.

As today’s workforce evolves to make use of cutting-edge communications technology that allows many workers to do their jobs from just about anywhere that carries an Internet connection, it makes sense that employee volunteer programs make use of the same technological advances in the name of community service.

The latest example of this is TutorMate, a service offered by Evanston, Ill.,–based nonprofit Innovations for Learning, which helps connect “virtual volunteers” with schoolchildren in need of some extra help with their studies.

According to Innovations for Learning, when a school signs up with TutorMate, the organization provides a computer, a phone line and software dedicated to online learning in the school’s classroom.

On the other end is a roster of tutors drawn from corporate partners, government agencies and other supportive groups that can each provide 10 or more people for tutoring sessions.

Far from the traditional tutor-pupil arrangement, TutorMate tutors might be sitting at a desk in their office or lounging with a laptop in their favorite coffee shop. When they dial in to the classroom on their phone, they are connected with the student, and the two can talk while both view an interactive screen on their computers that aids in demonstrative learning.

Each tutor works with the same student for a half-hour session, once each week, throughout the year, the organization said.

Scheduling is handled through an online system that allows the tutors to select a time most convenient for them.

According to Lora Phillips, director of corporate responsibility at antivirus software maker Symantec, virtual volunteering “has transformed the volunteering landscape as it now allows people to participate who may have been deterred from volunteering due to time or life constraints.”

In a post on the company’s corporate responsibility blog, Phillips described Symantec’s experience with TutorMate. A slate of 15 employees completed their first full academic year of tutoring students from Markham Elementary, near the company’s headquarters in Oakland, Calif.

“Using a phone and a computer, employees would log on to the interactive online system shared with the student and they would read electronic books or play reading games together,” Phillips wrote.

The company hosted a party for the volunteers and their mentees at the end of the school year, where the employees provided special pamphlets with information on local and national reading contests so that the students would remain engaged with reading during the long summer holiday, she said. And the volunteers spent the afternoon decorating bookmarks with their students, and brought along Symantec gift bags as parting gifts.

Though virtual volunteering has made it easier to give one’s time, it has not taken away from the social and individual benefits that volunteering can bring, Phillips said.

“The volunteers were just as excited to be a part of this opportunity as the students, and the benefits were mutually shared,” Phillips wrote.

Most notably, many volunteers remarked at how much progress their students had made, given the relatively small-time commitment required of the volunteers, she said.

And making it all the better: The volunteers were able to apply for Dollars-for-Doers grants for the time they put in via TutorMate. In all, the Symantec employees volunteered a combined 173 hours, totaling a donation of $2,598 for the school.

With technology making these types of activities ever more easy and convenient for the company’s workers, virtual volunteering is here to stay, Phillips said.

“At Symantec, virtual volunteering has become central to our corporate philanthropy strategy, and enables us to tap the passion of our 21,500 employees in over 50 countries worldwide,” she said.

For more information on TutorMate, visit www.innovationsforlearning.org.

8/10/2015 12:00 AM

Peabody Energy’s philanthropy is focused in the areas of education, community empowerment, and environmental restoration and conservation.

OVERVIEW

Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions. The company serves metallurgical and thermal coal customers in more than 25 countries on six continents. Its U.S. customers—mainly power plants—account for most of the company’s sales. In fact, Peabody coal is used to generate nearly half of all U.S. electrical power. In 2014, the company posted sales of $6.8 billion and employed some 8,300 workers.

GIVING

Peabody’s charitable giving is focused on programs that enhance the quality of life in the various communities across the country where the company has business operations. The company’s giving areas include:

  • Education. Peabody supports efforts to strengthen academic support services so that all students can become productive members of society. Focus areas include early childhood “whole-child” services, teacher training and professional development, college access and completion programs, and educator recognition.
  • The Peabody Energy Leaders in Education program honors K–12 educators from public and private schools in its communities through a competitive nomination process. Award recipients are selected throughout the school year by a committee of top educators and business leaders, and each earn a $1,000 award.

    Peabody also seeks out educational mentoring opportunities for its employees and has scholarship programs in place to encourage careers in the mining industry.

  • Empowering communities. The company invests in local nonprofit organizations that promote health and human services, foster civic affairs and economic development, deliver youth programs and strengthen arts and culture programs.
  • Environmental restoration, conservation and beautification. Across all of its operations, Peabody partners with organizations that conserve, beautify and restore the environment. The company works to engage its employees in environmental stewardship through collaborations with community groups and local schools as well.

Peabody also encourages and rewards the charity of its employees, who give both time and money to worthy causes in their communities.

Through a Dollars-for-Doers program, all part-time and full-time Peabody employees may request up to a $1,000 company donation toward an eligible nonprofit with which the employee has volunteered at least 40 hours during the calendar year.

Peabody also offers a matching gift program to bolster employees’ personal contributions to eligible nonprofits, up to $2,500 per employee per year.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

Employee Volunteerism
8/1/2015 12:00 AM

CauseWorthy.org offers companies a new and innovative way to engage their workers in volunteer service projects.

Companies looking for ways to interest their employees in volunteer service have a new and innovative option that offers multiple ways to support worthy charitable projects. Launched in early June, CauseWorthy.org offers members of the public ways to provide cash and/or volunteer support to specific on-the-ground, start-to-finish humanitarian projects, and stay engaged and informed throughout the projects’ life cycle.

For companies looking to launch or expand employee volunteer programs, the site makes it easy for workers to lend their support in ways that best align with their skills, abilities and level of interest, said Emily Harris, co-founder of CauseWorthy.org, while also providing a level of transparency that many would-be donors and volunteers are craving.

“Many nonprofits need help getting the word out to larger audiences about their projects,” she said. “Meanwhile, there are many individuals who want to give to a cause or project but aren’t sure where exactly the money goes. This site addresses both of those problems.”

According to Harris and co-founder Paul George, the site was based on the cornerstone belief that everyone has something to give.

“We’re trying to create a community where everyone can contribute something—whether it’s money, skills or promoting and advocating through their networks,” George said.

According to Harris, the group works directly with corporations to garner sponsorships for the various projects featured on the site. Companies can use their sponsorships as a way to promote skills-based volunteer opportunities for their employees, and in return they get their logos and other pertinent information displayed directly on the project page, giving them the “benefit of branding to their customers and potential customers, showcasing their commitment to giving back,” the group said.

Many companies, if not most, will likely find something on the site that aligns with their giving areas and resonates with their employees. CauseWorthy.org funds projects in several areas, including education, health care, clean water, hunger relief, disaster relief and anti–human trafficking.

For each project featured on the site, users can view a list of the specific resources sought by the nonprofit—whether that’s cash donations, in-kind services like marketing and communications support, or hands-on construction skills to be put to use on the ground. Any resources raised through the site are provided in phases and documented via field reports to ensure they are indeed being used as intended.

According to Harris, the vetting process is extensive and aimed at providing accountability from beginning to end. When considering a project to feature on the site, the group looks at things like:

  • Whether the nonprofit’s budget for the past three years is transparent and publicly available.
  • The nonprofit’s relationship with the end user of funds.
  • What the resources will be used for, specifically and down to the dollar.
  • If any funds have been raised for the project so far and, if so, how much and through what channels.
  • What percentage of funds goes toward project costs versus labor.
  • Whether the organization has completed any similar projects in the past, and what were the outcomes.
  • How the project would improve the lives and health of the people being served by the organization.
  • And whether the organization is capable of, and agreed to, provide video reports and updates, both during and upon completion of the project, to be featured on the CauseWorthy.org site.

The field reports serve several purposes, George said. Primarily, they provide proof to supporters that their contributions are leading to real and measurable progress in the humanitarian cause they are championing. But they also serve to raise awareness and reinforce an emotional connection to the project for even those who are not yet invested but have shown an interest via the site. Anyone that has pledged any resources to a project receives updates, as do those who have promoted the project through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, which is easy to do from the homepage.

“Everyone involved gets a front-row seat to see the project taking shape,” George said.

Importantly, the site does not allow for the solicitation of funding and resources to cover organizational overhead—all donations are given directly to support the project itself, whether it’s digging a well to provide fresh drinking water, expanding a vaccination program in Africa or restoring deforested areas in South America. Projects must have a clearly defined beginning and end, yielding a measurable result that benefits a defined group of people.

According to the organization, this offers employees some assurance that their support is having a real and tangible impact on people’s lives—or just contributing generically to a cause.

For more information, visit www.causeworthy.org.

News Briefs
8/25/2015 12:00 AM

The Home Depot Foundation has pledged more than $1.6 million in new grants to Volunteers of America to address the critical housing needs of former service members.

The Home Depot Foundation has pledged more than $1.6 million in new grants to Volunteers of America to address the critical housing needs of former service members. The grant will support 10 Volunteers of America homeless veterans programs in seven states, the foundation said. All told, these grants will help refurbish or build 354 units of housing for veterans, including 79 earmarked specifically for women veterans. Since beginning its partnership with Volunteers of America in 2011, the foundation has given nearly $10 million to the organization to improve housing solutions for homeless veterans and their families. The partnership between the two organizations has funded more than 73 veterans’ housing projects, providing more than 2,500 units for veterans, including more than 400 units specifically for women veterans and their families.

News Briefs
8/21/2015 12:00 AM

State Street Corp. has launched a new initiative aimed at preparing Boston youth for 21st-century careers.

State Street Corp. and its charitable arm, the State Street Foundation, have launched the Boston Workforce Investment Network (Boston WINs), an initiative that will align the work of five local and national nonprofits with a shared goal of preparing more Boston youth for 21st-century careers, expanding Boston’s young, thriving talent pool and promoting economic mobility. Boston WINs is based on the concept of venture philanthropy, which applies long-term funding, measurement and direct involvement to philanthropic programs to expand their effectiveness. The State Street Foundation will provide an investment of $20 million over four years to Bottom Line, the Boston Private Industry Council, the College Advising Corps, uAspire and Year Up. This financial support will enable each organization to significantly scale their respective programs and together create better outcomes for Boston youth. Collectively, the organizations project that they will increase the number of youth served by approximately 60 percent. Meanwhile, State Street has committed to hiring 1,000 Boston students that will have been served by one or more of the Boston WINs organizations over the next four years.

News Briefs
8/13/2015 12:00 AM

The UPS Foundation has pledged over $10 million in grants aimed at increasing community safety around the world.

The UPS Foundation announced it will donate over $10 million to nonprofit, nongovernmental and United Nations organizations in 2015 for the purpose of increasing community safety around the world. Focus areas for donations include emergency preparedness, disaster relief response/recovery and road safety. In 2015, the UPS Humanitarian Relief & Resilience Program will provide global relief partners with funds, in-kind support and supply-chain expertise to support preparedness, emergency response and recovery capabilities, the foundation said. Among the key initiatives that will be supported this year are the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the World Food Program and the GAVI Alliance.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King
    Editor

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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