Learning Series | Days & Weeks of Service

July 28, 2022

Andy (00:03): Ben welcome back to the WeHero Learn podcast, excited to have you have you here today.
Ben (00:09): I feel like you and I had a, a little sabbatical from doing this and now we're, we're getting back after it with some new topics that we need to discuss.
Andy (00:15): Exactly. And I think great topic today is very fitting because we're in the summer right now, which is obviously a wall for a lot of companies, you know, a lot of employees on vacation and it's really halfway through the year. But what we think about it this time of year is the holiday season. And what typically comes up in the holidays are a lot of weeks of service and days of service. And so I'd love to, to hear from you about why companies do days of service, how do you define these weeks of service and when you're really building solutions for clients, you know, how are you modeling and thinking about them?
Ben (00:49): Yeah, no, I'm glad we're talking about this because we help companies with a lot of different formats. And I think recently I've been working with a lot of companies on days or weeks or sometimes months of service. And I think just, you know, we've been pulling in kind of like that data exhaust, if you will, of like this working incredibly well from an engagement standpoint, from an impact standpoint. And I think, you know, some companies have considered it, but I think if we can share some of the findings that we're having right now with these days, weeks, and months of service that we've been planning and executing for companies, it might be helpful. And just some tips and tricks on like how to best execute these because they are big programs. There's a lot that goes into 'em, but there's a lot of benefits that come with that.
Ben (01:31): And so Andy, I'm happy to jump in with just some like high level thoughts and we can dive into some detail here. That's perfect. Let's just do the, the, the days, weeks and months of service for dummies version, which is what is a day, week or month of service. And this is typically a dedicated day or week, a dedicated timeframe that the company has really donated to volunteering and giving back. And it's almost like a corporate holiday if you will. And so it's on people's calendars for a very long period of time. They know it's coming and it's a celebration almost more than anything. So people get excited about there's so much buildup leading into it and there's typically multiple volunteer and giving opportunities throughout the day throughout the week or again, whatever the timeframe is for that day, week or month of service.
Ben (02:17): And, you know, it's been exciting to see because there's so much buildup and forethought that goes into these experiences that engagement's super high. That is something that we've noticed. And we know that engagement numbers have really struggled with participation rates for volunteering, for a lot of companies. And so this is a great way to alleviate that because it is that big celebration that people are getting excited about. We've also noticed the impact be quite substantial because people are packing in so many volunteer opportunities. So is somebody giving opportunities that the impact's quite high because they have that high participation, they have a lot of opportunities. And the average employees like volunteering in like four to six different opportunities in that day or week of service, which I think is like pretty incredible in that timeframe. And so just to give people a sense of like what these look like and what they are that's what, what it is and you know, pretty simple.
Ben (03:08): And I think some of the pros of this is that I've noticed brands and companies really use this as a huge statement, time period for their company and their culture. It, they're using it in like the recruitment, for example, like, Hey, we have a dedicated week of service that we have for our employees. You know, they're using it to convey the amount of impact that they're creating. I think what's really cool for CSR teams that have big goals is that I'm working with a company right now. They're going to accomplish their entire volunteer hours goal in this one week of service for the entire year, which is amazing. The rest is just gravy. And so I'm happy to dive into all these little nooks and crannies and ways to execute this, but I'm going to pause for a second and see if you have any thoughts on this, Andy, I get really excited about it, but something that we we're seeing is really successful for companies. And I'm glad we're talking about it.
Andy (03:59): Yeah. I think you hit on a lot of the major things of why companies should be doing this. I think some of the benefits are obvious, you know, instead of trying to market a lot of smaller volunteer initiatives and events throughout the year, if you can funnel a lot of the excitement hype and really senior leadership involvement into this weekday month of service, that is really easy, because so much is happening. And there's so much folks on that. So you have almost have more advertising. I think the other thing is, you know, so much impact is happening. Like you said, it's a lot easy to market based on the impact and build a goal for the employees saying, Hey, we have seven days of volunteering when our week of service, we are trying to help 10,000 people, are you going to help do make that happen?
Andy (04:45): And I think that's one. I also think, you know, the ultimate goal is to have every employee at a company be, you know, a volunteer promoter and there's no better way to involve employees who haven't historically been involved than with a big week, month of service where the company sets apart a significant amount of time for an employee to do this. It almost makes it a requirement as part of a team mm-hmm <affirmative> because if you can then take that one time volunteer and convert them to a recurring volunteer, that's really what you want to help increase the impact and overall engagement of your employees. So I think it there's so much benefit to it. And obviously I think what you're seeing it might be curious to, to hear is just, there's some challenges with doing this, you know, it's, you're planning a massive massive thing. And so it'd be great to hear how you're working with companies once they recognize the benefit of it.
Ben (05:34): Yeah. some things that I've noticed over the years is that the first day or week or however long it is, you know, week of service, you do, it's the hardest one. It gets so much easier in regards to gaining participation. After that first one, the first one's a big awareness campaign, if you will. So I was working with the company they did their first one last year with us and it was quite successful engagement. Wasn't quite where we wanted it to be. But now that employees, you know, were activated about it and they saw it happening again, and that the company committed to doing this at the same time, every single year after that first one participation rate's already substantially higher than it was in that first year. So I think, I always want to tell folks like, Hey, just getting through that first, one's really important and, and sticking to your guns and being consistent really helps with participation is something to think about.
Ben (06:25): I think the other thing in regards to just planning and setting these up successfully leadership, buyin critical and leadership giving people the opportunity to take the time needed to volunteer or give during that time of service that the company has dedicated to. If leadership isn't involved, we're working with one right now and it's been tough, because leadership hasn't been involved. And you can tell that there's like some confusion regards to like, are people going to have this half day off to go and do these things? Are they not? And vice first we have another company where leadership's having a dedicated event to kick off the week of service and then everybody's going to volunteer after leadership broadcasts their like dedicated day of service that they're doing, which I think makes an absolute statement and gets people really excited about actually taking the time to volunteer and give back. Yeah. And then, oh, go ahead, Andy, jump in here.
Andy (07:15): I was just going to say, I mean, that, that is so significant for me. And one of the benefits of this week of service, you know, we've talked in previous learn videos about, you know, how to have a strong volunteer program, right? It's incentives, it's leadership buy, and there are a number of key factors, but the challenging thing is trying to do that all year. If you can really just focus your efforts on just this five days or even one day and make sure all those things happen in the one day, it's a lot easier to do than trying to do it throughout the entire year. And so it's a great way to kickstart it and set it up correctly.
Ben (07:46): Yeah. And then the other big thing I have was just like the planning piece of it. Yeah. I, I have like two good contrasts right now with the companies we're working with. We had a company that's planning this two months in advance, really tough. <Laugh>, you know, getting that in folks' calendars, getting people to dedicate the time to it. Vice versa. We've had another comment we've been working with almost like six months, like on a week of service, like it's been in employees' calendars, like the promotional materials have gone out numerous times. Like people are excited about it. People have these employees, they have blocks on their calendars, so they make sure they're not, you know, booking over like those volunteer experiences that are going to take place. And so planning as far in advance as you can for that week of service so that your employees and your team members can and can plan into advance is really critical for that, that kind of participation. So just a quick tip there and pretty obvious one as well.
Andy (08:35): <Laugh> yeah. Yeah. And obviously we help a lot of companies that are in different situations. And so we have seen what works well and what doesn't work well, if you have less time, more time to plan because the more time you have, obviously the more intricate you can, you can do one, one question I have for you, Ben is let's pick a, a technology, a company in the, the technology space. How do you recommend they actually structure the volunteering for the week? Is it focused on things around their mission? Is it based on what their employees want? How do you think about building the actual plan for the week?
Ben (09:07): Oh, cool. I, I have I have three high level outline points to this. One is kick off your week or your day or how, whatever the time period is about the social impact goals of the company and why this is so important. Like having that message and an opportunity to convey to all your team members, why you're dedicating this time for the company to give back and make an impact is so important and absolutely critical. And employees want to hear that people want to hear about why their company is giving a why purpose driven. And so I think leading off your time is a great way to do that focused on the company and the goals. Once the goals are set, then it's like, okay, it's time to get to work. And I think there's, there's two pieces. I, I really love about this.
Ben (09:49): And I love it when for a week of service, for example, the company does like a volunteer exercise that involves the entire company, but then regions get to break off and do their own volunteer experiences as well. So we're doing one right now where like the first day of the week of service, the entire company's coming together and doing this huge volunteer project focused on education. After that during the rest of the week, the regions are all over the country, all over the globe, sorry, are breaking off, doing their own volunteer experiences, focused on their local communities. And I think that's a really cool balance and sense of we're going to do a global cause area that our entire company gets to participate in. Then we're going to break out into our regional area, support our local communities. We're going to collect all that impact, come back.
Ben (10:34): And the last thing I'll say is I love it when companies celebrate at the end of the week or the day or however long, it is like everyone comes back, they do a virtual or hybrid happy hour, if you will. And they talk about the impact that was created and why that week or that day, or that month was like so powerful. And I think that's a really good way to wrap that up. So employees really get to go like, wow, like I didn't know what our office in south America did, but that's like absolutely incredible, like the stories that they're sharing and what they did and seeing the impact that all of us together made in that very constrained timeframe was pretty impressive. And so in regards to just your question on what's a good timeline look like those are my personal favorites. They changed based on what the company goals are, of course. But those are some of the things that I love to see.
Andy (11:18): Yeah. I think the other thing, I mean, we're seeing a ton of data now on, you know, the challenges of having remote dispersed workforces as it relates to volunteering. There's, there's clear benefits for, for a lot of different things, but when you think about bringing companies together to volunteer, that's one of the key challenges and doing these weeks of service actually brings everyone together in a great way and connects them rather than, you know, individual volunteering on their own. Even if they're joining via screen or whatever it may be. It still brings them and connects them to the company, which I think is great.
Ben (11:50): Yeah.
Andy (11:51): Are one other thing you touched on was the benefit of marketing purposes really for what we believe is employee engagement and, and retention and, and hiring new employees. Do you see a lot of companies bringing in, you know, media teams to be recording all of this, designing it? What do you, what do you recommend for companies depending on what their goals are?
Ben (12:10): I think the, as much as possible telling the story of why you're doing this and capturing that impact and a story format's huge. So I'll give an example. We're working with their company now that they're doing they, they have offices in four different countries. And so we have media teams going in for every single one of those volunteer programs. And they're going to pull together a media package at the end that tells the story of that entire week of service and about the impact that's being made at the local community level and at the global level across the company. And just why it's so important to this company to give back in this way every single year. And then they're using it on their careers page. They're putting it like all over their social media channels. They're using it in their investor relations deck and, and like, so I think the they've created this, they're creating right now, this asset that will be really powerful. And they want it to be at the forefront of what they do and what they stand for as a company, which I think is like really special. So that's what I recommend is telling the story as best as you can, maybe it's not through video or a photo, but doing everything you can to like tell that story whether it's press release a blog impact report or photo and video and pulling that together in the way that's makes sense for your company.
Andy (13:23): Yeah. Regardless of the media type, ensuring that you tell the story and how it's impacting the right people is, is really what draws out the emotion that people care about.
Ben (13:31): Yeah. do we have time for one more metric,
Andy (13:34): One more metric? I'd love to hear it.
Ben (13:36): Okay. Promise just one more. I another thing that I'm excited about with days or weeks of service like this is I, what did I put in our slack channel to the we hero team today? I'm just going to read it. It's no, I didn't. I tweeted about it. It's <laugh> gimme
Andy (13:54): A second. If you don't follow Ben on Twitter, follow him. Now
Ben (13:57): I tweeted about it. I promise. Here we go. 70% of volunteers also donate volunteers donate two times more on average than non volunteers. And so I love this for social impact days and we can service, right, because there's also a lot of giving components that are packed into that. So matching donations and stuff like that, if we're activating employees and having them volunteer, they're much more likely to give. And they're much more likely to give a lot, two times more on average, which is pretty impressive. So again, just bundling that all together, I think makes a ton of sense. That's my last metric. I know we're at time. So I'll wrap a promise.
Andy (14:35): <Laugh> no, it's, it's all good. I think what you brought out is really clear. I mean, companies should be thinking about creating a day, week of service. They don't already have one. And if they, if they want to brainstorm, feel free to reach out with us, we've seen what works, what doesn't work very well and can share our tips and tricks to make it highly impactful and engaging for, for the teams. So, so feel free to give us a call and you can chat with Ben about his his ideas and, and learning about more metrics that we don't have time to talk about today.
Ben (15:02): Yeah. more time than, than 15 minutes to jam out on this stuff.
Andy (15:06): <Laugh> exactly. Exactly. Well, awesome. Ben, thank you for the quick time and look forward to the next one.
Ben (15:12): Thanks everybody. Talk to you soon.

Your Hosts

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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