Pamela’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: Early CRS Efforts in the ’90s

This is one of my first forays into CSR.  I have to say at a very young age I have both loved nonprofit work, as well as the forprofit sector.  You can read some of my early thoughts as I am getting involved in the sector, giving a speech at Bank of America, about Corporate Social Responsibility.

Good morning, we’re very excited to be here this morning.  We’ve come from California, and we’re thrilled to be partners with Team Bank of America in this initiative…I’ve been a Bank of America customer since I was ten years old.  So—  [applause] Does that work?  Okay, good, I’m so glad.  My father took me to review all the different banks, and I did my market analysis when I was ten and I’ve never changed.

We are a part of VolunteerMatch.  We are an internet based nonprofit organization that creates web-based services that make it easy for individuals, nonprofits and corporations to get involved in the community.  We have been around for about five years, continuing to build on these different applications, and the first one is a public service, VolunteerMatch.  This matches volunteers with nonprofits.  It’s free for the nonprofit organizations.  They simply come into our site, list their mission statement and volunteer opportunities.  And then volunteers come in, punch in their zipcode, choose from a list of criteria—could be welfare-to-work, could be homelessness, the environment—and then they can find the volunteer opportunities in their area.

To date we’ve matched more than 240,000 volunteers with nonprofits nationwide.  We feature more than 20,000 opportunities from all over the United States, and that number’s increasing as we get more and more nonprofits using this free service.  So as we talk more about this service, this is one of the areas that Team Bank of America associates can take advantage of, nonprofits you know of in utilizing this free source.

One of the things that has really helped with the success of VolunteerMatch, and then also our program for Bank of America, has been our partnerships with companies such as AOL, Snap, Yahoo, that drive traffic to our site.  We do co-branded partnerships with them that drive the people and visitors and eyeballs to our site, so that people know that VolunteerMatch is this public resource for both the nonprofits and the volunteer community.

Subsequent to that, what we decided to do, since our mission is to create these services that increase community involvement, was we took a look at the corporate space.  We saw a lot of corporations who were concerned with the visibility of the corporation within the community.  We also saw that as corporations go into each of their local communities, it’s no longer enough to simply offer jobs.  Corporations are giving financially.  They are giving of their employee time.  So to really make sure that a corporation’s presence is felt in the community, it’s no longer enough about just setting up the physical structure and offering the jobs there, so we felt we could really tailor or customize a service that really meets the corporate needs and expectations.

And in addition, what this service also does is it really helps with the whole sense of team within Team Bank of America.  All of you all are volunteering, be it individuals or in groups, and this service really helps bring everyone together.  So what is it?  It’s VolunteerMatch Corporate, and what it does is create a tailored, customized site for Team Bank of America employees.

We have a booth set up in the resource center.  You can check out Team Bank of America’s private label site, so it’s got the kind of look and feel of Team Bank of America with your logo.  And what you can do is go in, find volunteer opportunities, search by your local zipcode, choose from criteria whether you want a one-time or an ongoing event.  You can choose from over twenty different categories.  And then you click on “find” and it comes up with the opportunities in your area.  So that’s the first part of the service.

The second is a tracking capability, so that you can come into a certain area on the site, underneath Activity—and that’s underneath the yellow bar on the top, and you click on Activity.  And up there it shows you how many people have signed up this week; how many people have signed up for the whole year; what are the most popular opportunities for Team Bank of America in each of the local areas all across the U.S. and soon to be internationally.

So you can come in as an associate in your local area, and find out what are your employees getting involved in.  And you can send them an email and ask them what their experiences are, or would they like to have this sponsored as more of a larger group event.  You can email all of the group by region, so that you can talk or speak or communicate with them, and find out about their experiences in the whole local area.  And in addition, what we have—and this is more for the private reporting—is aggregated information so that you can do your reporting on all of the hours and on all of those kind of solutions.

Finally, we also have an element that allows you to feature opportunities, so that you can feature what is important in your local area and drive your employees towards those kind of opportunities.  So our whole purpose is to make this customized for you, to bring to light the important aspects of Team Bank of America, be it opportunities in welfare-to-work, environment, or any other specialized area that you choose to get involved in.

And for us, I found a lot of similarities in what we heard yesterday.  One of the key words is “ingenuity.”  If you looked at the different products, what they all had in common is they made it easier.  They made a process easier, they made it simpler.  So what we really try to do is bring all that information together on the web, make it customized for Bank of America, so that it is simple for you to use in your efforts to get involved in the community.

And finally, we are very proud to be partners with Bank of America, simply because we know that companies that promote and endorse volunteerism have a much greater level of respect internally from their employees, from customers and clients, suppliers, nonprofit organizations, and the community at large.  And so we really hope that VolunteerMatch Corporate and our partnership can really be that tool for you as you continue to exemplify those values of volunteerism, and continue to build that unique brand that you all are establishing in the community.

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