The New Era of Corporate Volunteering - Points of Light

July 15, 2022

Ben (00:03): Hi, everybody. Welcome to thenew era of corporate volunteering. Thank you so much for joining this points oflight session. My name is Ben Sampson. I'm one of the co-founders of WeHero. Wehope you get a lot out of this session. This session is very much focused onmaking sure we understand the new formats of volunteering that are taking thecorporate force by storm and engaging more volunteers at scale and creatingmore impact than ever before. We're super excited to walk through all thesedifferent formats and all the levers that you can pull right now in your owncompanies to make sure you're making lasting change and adjusting for thesetimes as volunteer formats, continue to shift and change just the same way thatour businesses are today. So before we get started, I always like to joke thatwe want to make sure you're in the right classroom with our time together.
Ben (00:49): We're going to talk about a fewkey things first and foremost, how and why to adjust existing volunteerexperiences. We have a lot of data that we've been looking at over the past twoto three years in regards to why creating new volunteer experiences and formatsis so important to increase engagement in this day and age, then we're going tobe talking about new and exciting volunteer formats for you to explore at yourown company levers for volunteer execution that you can pull today to increasethat scale, increase that impact right now, and how to build the corporatevolunteer program of tomorrow. We're going to go big picture with theseprograms, help you understand what you can do and what you can think about. Sowe building the volunteer programs of tomorrow. Now a quick disclaimer, thatthis is not a prescriptive session. This is an idea generating session.
Ben (01:36): We are just going to scratchthe surface of all the different formats that are out there today. All thedifferent things that could be done, increase impact and scale when it comes toour volunteer programs. But what we really want to highlight here are the keythings that we are noticing right now that are fairly easy to implement today.And also we hope that this generates a lot of ideas for your existing programs.Every company has different goals, different challenges. And so we hope we cantake this as a framework and bring this into your company to make your programsincreasingly more successful. Now, why are we the experts in corporatevolunteering? Why should you listen to us at WeHero? We plan and executecorporate volunteer programs that scale, and that make a huge amount of impact.And that are very unique experiences. Our job is to make sure that folks thatare in corporate social responsibility, ESG, so on and so forth, the peoplethat are responsible for engaging employees and creating impact withvolunteerism.
Ben (02:29): Our job is to make sure thatthey're successful. And so we constantly are creating and building newvolunteer experiences, launching new formats to enable this, to enable thisscale, to enable this impact through volunteerism. And we have a lot of data tolook at. We've been working with hundreds of companies that are in the fortune500, along with a number of small, medium sized businesses that are launchingvolunteer programs, some of them for the very first time. And so when we lookacross the data for all these large companies, medium size and smallbusinesses, we're able to understand what really works, what is generatingscale generating impact, and also what is creating a huge amount of employeeengagement in a very successful way. And so we've brought this in for you andwe hope this information is really helpful to bring it to your program movingforward.
Ben (03:12): So before we dive in, I want tosay that this is about the long game. You're going to hear me talk about a fewdifferent things during this presentation. And one of those being activationsfirst volunteering, I think we have a huge opportunity when it comes tovolunteerism. And I often call activations because our big goal when we workwith companies is that we take a first time volunteer and we can get them to bea long term volunteer, because the amount of impact that can be created, anengagement that can be created by converting someone from what I call a levelone, volunteer to a level three volunteer is immensely helpful. We'll talkabout why that's so important. So again, y'all is talking about, you know, howdo we activate employees rather than thinking about just volunteerism. We alsoare going to talk a lot about long term versus short term impact.
Ben (03:58): I think it's really easy tofall into the trap of doing what's easy when it comes to volunteerism, makingsure that we're just feeling good and making a little bit of impact here andthere, but there's things that we can do to consider to make huge amounts ofimpact in the long term for some really big nonprofits that need support outthere or small nonprofits for that matter. And then the other thing we'll talkabout is the big picture, the culture of volunteerism that we're trying toestablish within our companies, almost all of us that are probably watchingthis. We're trying to establish this flywheel, this culture of volunteers andwhere people are excited to volunteer are eager to be engaged and they keepcoming back over and over again because they're having incredible experienceswithin their companies when it comes to volunteer efforts.
Ben (04:38): What we want to start with younow is building the corporate volunteer program of tomorrow and what that lookslike now to give us a really good visual of what this can look like and how wecan structure our programs. We created something called that. We hear aflywheel now, as you can see in this flywheel, there are a couple keycomponents. First off in the flywheel, we want to talk about activatingemployees at the earliest opportunity level one. So we think about newemployees that are getting hired into the company intern volunteer experiences,so on and so forth. As we think about that big, broad volunteer culture thatwe're trying to create, we want to start by taking the new employees that arecoming into the company, because that's some of the low hanging fruit alongwith the employees that have never experienced volunteering from our companiesbefore now we call these level one volunteers.
Ben (05:24): Now this level one throughlevel three, these steps we got this idea from Chris Jarvis who's from RealizedWorth. They do a lot of thinking in regards to how to get the most out of yourvolunteers in your culture and how to build really successful programs. Thislevel one volunteer is someone that's probably never volunteered in their lifeor they probably haven't volunteered at their company. Our goal here again isnot so much the volunteer efforts that taking place, but what we callactivation activating these employees around volunteering, activating themaround the cause and why it's so important and activating them so they cancontinue supporting and continue volunteering after the volunteer experiencetakes place. And that goes in that step two of our flywheel and that'scompany-wide activations. This is so important. We need to be constantlycreating opportunities and new formats for our team members to experiencevolunteering for our company.
Ben (06:17): So this again is creating newand engaging volunteer experiences and really focusing on things that getpeople excited about volunteering and that's storytelling internally andexternally. And this is what we really like to see for converting those levelone volunteers into level twos, giving them those opportunities, creating newexperiences and getting them to volunteer a few times with the company. Andwhat we love to see come out of this is especially in larger organizations isvolunteer champions. And that's what we think of as a level three volunteer.And this is how we see a lot of scale become generated within these companiesis we have those level ones and level twos we'll have a handful or a largenumber of them become so excited about the programming that they become levelthrees and they're championing for the organization. They're creating volunteerexperiences themselves. They're engaging more employees throughout the cultureand throughout the company.
Ben (07:09): And that's what we see as athriving volunteer culture. When the employees themselves have the toolkit andthe opportunities to continue volunteering and supporting nonprofits in new andunique ways. And so we hope you all take this flywheel and use it. And I thinkI want to point out as well, that to have success in the flywheel, we'relooking at constant data capture and constant reinvention. What makes theflywheel continue spinning is that we're constantly analyzing where there'smomentum and where there's not momentum. And we're analyzing where we need tobring in new experiences and how we get employees excited about the volunteerexperiences. In a moment, I'm going to talk about the importance of creatingnew formats and offering new curated volunteer experiences for employees tokeep this flywheel spinning with a lot of momentum throughout the year andthroughout the culture of the company.
Ben (07:59): Now, again, with this slide, Ijust want to highlight finding success in the flywheel. Again, constant datacapture really important if we're not measuring the impact of what's actuallytaking place, the employees that are being engaged, we cannot manage this andwe cannot make sure that we're making the flywheel successful. Constantreinvention. Again, we want to make sure we're reinventing these programs,making them excited. So we build more energy in that flywheel. We need to leanheavily on company resources to accelerate that scale again, that's, I'mtalking about getting those level two level one, volunteers to a level threewhen level three volunteers step up and we see the company resources, thetalent pool that you have in your company. Step up to create volunteerexperiences and engage more employees. We see a massive amount of scale takeplace throughout the company and a creating a beacon of success.
Ben (08:48): I haven't touched on this yet,but I think it's so important that we create a bullseye for employees and forthe entire company culture to shoot. After in regards to the kind of impactwe're trying to create as an organization, having a social impact missionstatement is really a great example of something that can work incredibly wellfor companies that are trying to make a huge amount of impact and giveemployees something to target. When we give folks that beacon for success, wegive them something to work after a goal post. And we see a lot of employees bemotivated by that maybe for your company. That's, we're going to give 1 millionclean water by the end of 2025. Maybe it's, we're going to support 200,000 kidsthat are underserved in the community. There's so many different goalposts thatyou can set based on the goals that you have as a company and the goals thatyour employees have and what gets them really excited about your volunteerprogram.
Ben (09:37): Now, one of the things I talkedabout in the flywheel was this reinvention of programs and this launching ofnew volunteer experiences. And I know some companies out there they've beendoing the same volunteer experiences and supporting the same nonprofits for avery long time. And that's amazing. But if you see volunteer engagement numbersin decline, reinvention could be a really key lever to pull, to make sure thatthat engagement's going up. And we have a lot of data that shows that this is areally powerful lever to pull. One of the things that we've been looking atlately over the pandemic and throughout 2020 and 2021 is why we're seeingdownturns in engagement, across volunteer experiences. So we actually looked atemployee engagement throughout 190 companies that we had been working with. Andthese were a mix of large companies, small companies, and we noticed some keythings during the beginning of the pandemic, as you can see, you know, Januarythrough March of 2020 into that April timeframe, we saw numbers plummet becausethe existing formats for volunteering weren't working, we couldn't get togetherin person.
Ben (10:41): We couldn't go to nonprofitlocations. And so what we needed to do and what companies need to do isreinvent how employees volunteer and how we get them engaged and continuemaking impact in a really scalable way. They can reach folks at home. And thishappened and we saw this huge spike in engagement, along with just how manyfolks wanted to help. Now we saw those numbers drop off again. After we hadthat reinvention and volunteer experiences really need to be reinvented again.Then what happened is coming into the new year of 2021. People had this lightof, Hey, maybe we'll get back together in person a little bit. Maybe we'll dosome more hybrid experiences. Then we had another strand of COVID 19, comethrough everything, shut down. And we go through this dip in engagement and a constantamount of reinvention that needs to take place.
Ben (11:28): New skills-based programs cameout skills-based light programs were employees didn't need to volunteer fordays or weeks at a time. We could volunteer for just a few short hours and makea huge amount of impact. We'll talk about self-guided volunteer experienceswhere employees are receiving volunteer experiences at their doorstep. We'lltalk about some of those examples. Again, we see a dip of engagement throughoutthe year of 2021, definitely in the summertime, which we noticed at the end of2021 climbing engagement numbers, the old models of volunteering were comingback in person was taking place yet again. And then we had this huge dip againinto employee engagement because a new strand of COVID 19 came through and weconstantly see this reinvention. Now, one of the things I want to highlight isCOVID does play a role in this. But what we notice is that after the wave ofCOVID comes through and we see the decline in employee engagement, it takessome time for engagement numbers to climb back up.
Ben (12:21): And we notice a very strongcorrelation of reinvention, of volunteer formats and experiences and newemployees jumping on, ready to engage with those new and exciting formats. Wesurvey a lot of employees and we know now that they don't want to do the samething over and over again, these employees, they want new experiences. Theirtime is incredibly valuable. They want something that's going to excite them,get them engaged and usually work within a fairly short timeframe. And so we'relooking to create more of those opportunities and more of those formats foremployees. So this is just some of the data that we look at. There's a numberof other data sets out there that support this, but more so just for you toconsider why is this so important in your company and why it's so important toreinvent the flywheel, reinvent these experiences so we can continue engagingas many of these employees as possible.
Ben (13:09): Now, the, how is the bigquestion here? It's really easy to go, oh, we need to reinvent volunteeringconstantly. But the how is the really important piece here and how we do this.As folks that are trying to create very successful social impact programs,storytelling and empathy is one of the key things that we can bring into place.We see a lot of volunteer programs that get set up and they are very standardin the sense of here's the nonprofit, here's the volunteer experience, get itdone, we'll measure some impact, but we're missing a huge piece of this, whichis again, that activation piece. We want employees to get excited about thiscause and continue supporting afterwards. Storytelling is a huge vehicle fordoing that. We want to make sure that people have empathy through thesestories, that they can understand why this is so important and why their timeis so important.
Ben (13:58): That's a missing piece in manyprograms. And we're seeing that when we input that storytelling empathy piece,we see a lot of success in the programs. Engagement technology has been huge,especially as our world becomes more and more virtual. I'll show you some toolsthat we've used in the past for engaging employees through. We hear ofvolunteer experiences as an example, and these tools are immensely helpful formaking sure we're creating unique experiences where employees can engage fromanywhere in the world and partake at the comfort level. That makes sense forthem. So engagement technology is amazing. It's only getting better. We'll talkabout the use of web three and things that we can do there. Virtual realityexperiences where people can really empathize with what's actually happening onthe ground when a natural disaster takes place or when people are getting cleanwater for the very first time, we can talk about how to engage audiences acrossthe globe, through technology like net to meter and others for a live pollingand make sure we're understanding how people are feeling through an experienceand how they feel like they're actually making an impact with the time thatthey're donating new, fresh formats.
Ben (15:00): Again, is something that wereally lean into for this how component we're going to talk about fresh formatsthat you could consider in your company. And then again, this activation versusvolunteerism. So let's dive in to some of these very new and exciting volunteerformats. And again, we're just scratching this surface here. There's so manynew formats that are getting created every single week, but these are some ofthe key formats we want you to consider when executing your volunteer programstoday. Now in doing this there's three big trends that we're noticing for whywe are adjusting these formats and trying to make them better. First andforemost, employees want to be more educated about causes. This is a big pieceof feedback. Again, kind of aligns with that storytelling and empathy piece.People don't want to just volunteer. They want to know the why they want toknow why this is so important.
Ben (15:46): Why this water filter we'rebuilding is going to save so many lives and how the technology works, why thisnonprofit exists and what they've done in the past to make a huge amount ofimpact. We really want to do everything we can to educate employees. Nonprofitsare working to scale volunteerism with ease. Corporate volunteering is anamazing avenue for nonprofits to build relationships with companies. But asmany of you know, nonprofits are incredibly understaffed. It's reallychallenging for them to serve employees, to serve companies and also continue runningtheir programs within their nonprofit organizations. They're looking foropportunities to scale their nonprofit programs, to engage more volunteers. Andthey're looking to do this in a way that doesn't compromise impact and helpsthem hold onto those relationships. So something for us to consider in ourformats as well, employees want to volunteer in experiences rather than events.
Ben (16:37): Again, just double clicking onthis. Cause we talked about it earlier. We see a lot of employees want to havean experience when they volunteer, not just the standard volunteer events. Soanything we can do to make these really unique and really special, the betterwe did a volunteer experience recently with the company where we went to alake, rented kayaks, had the nonprofit come out and do an educational keynote.And then all the employees had a kayak around the lake. There was an app madeby UC Davis to identify invasive algae species that were flooding the lake. Theemployees were able to kayak around, identify these species catalog. They wereable to survey and manage so that we can remove that invasive algae withdiverse and get that lake cleaned out. That's the kind of unique impact we wantto see from many experiences and what employees really remember walking awayfrom.
Ben (17:26): And so again, that's a, maybean extreme example, but just to give you an example of some of the things thatcan happen and how you can make these experiences incredibly unique andspecial. So to dive into the first format, that's new, we want people toconsider its simulations. Now simulations are really powerful from the empathyand storytelling components. Real stories, real situations, simulations aretechnology that we're using to actually have people walk in the shoes assomeone that's being challenged with a certain scenario, perhaps it's a naturaldisaster. Perhaps it's someone that's been struggling with homelessness. Wewant people to really empathize with folks that are going through thosechallenges and help them realize that these people shouldn't be identified bythe challenges that they're going through. Homelessness, for example, it's justa situation. It's not a person. We want people to understand the decisions thatare being made every single hour and have them make those decisions andunderstand the consequences of those decisions as they're making them again,technology has been immensely helpful in making these SI simulations so realand so impactful for the person participating in them.
Ben (18:35): And again, these are realdecisions when we are putting simulations like this together, these are realpeople that have gone through these challenges that have had to make thesedecisions. And when we have that real component come to the volunteer and theyexperience that in the weight of those decisions, it's a really powerfulexperience. And it creates again, this empathy and this emotionalunderstanding. We see employees walk away with this huge understanding of, ohmy gosh, I understand that what that challenge actually looks like. I have anew perspective on this, and I also am armed with ways to continue supportingthe cause after this experience. And that's are my point here, a path togenerating long term impact when we activate employees through a simulation andwe give them that massive amount of empathy and understanding they're able tothen be armed with the resources to go out and make an impact on their own withtheir own time.
Ben (19:25): And that's the goal of this thatwe can activate employees. They can be inspired by the cause, have a deepunderstanding of why it's so needed and go out and do things like skills based.Volunteering do things like volunteer in their local community with nonprofitssupporting that sector that they experienced was focused on. They can do thatnow and create long-term impact and these experiences should have resources forthem to go all afterwards and support those causes. And you know, the benefitsagain of simulations. One is just the empathy and the storytelling component.So huge. Like you can't create a more powerful experience in my opinion, thanthrough a simulation experience where people actually have to make thosedecisions. The other thing is long term impact. These are really powerfulactivations that generate a lot of long term impact in our data supports that.
Ben (20:10): And last but not least, it's agreat way for global engagement. We have people that can jump on virtually fromacross the globe, go through these simulations. And I think what's reallypowerful is that we have volunteers from different countries, all of a suddenhave an understanding of the challenges that are being faced in India, perhapsor in South Africa or in Australia or in the us. And when employees in a globalcompany have that understanding, it's amazing to see them come together, haveempathy and a big aha moment and go like let's work together to solve some ofthese challenges in these countries spread out across the globe. And so again,a lot of big pros here and a lot of excitement around simulations. I hope yourcompany considers trying one of these in the future. We're here to help dothat. If anybody needs some support in trying this on for the very first time,the other format that we want to talk about that is not super new, butcontinues to become more exciting is shipping and logistics.
Ben (21:02): Now a lot of you probablyexperienced the shipping of volunteer experiences during the pandemic. And someof you may have experienced it before then we're taking these volunteerexperiences that used to be done in person and we're meeting the employeeswhere they're at making it easier for them to volunteer. So box, for example,may show up at an employee's doorstep with 15 different components to build awater filter during a live experience. They'll log on, they'll learn about thenonprofit. They'll hear stories about the people that are being impacted, andthen they'll build that water filter. And one of those water filters will give 12people clean water for 10 years, pretty huge amount of impact. And so we'veseen a lot of this take place with the shipping of volunteer experiences tooffices and to homes. Now there are definitely some negatives when it comes toshipping volunteer experiences and we want to call those out.
Ben (21:49): One of them being waste.Another con is the carbon footprint. We really incentivize people to offsettheir ship, to make sure that they're doing everything in as carbon neutral ofa way as possible disconnected. Sometimes employees that aren't broughttogether in a live experience, they feel disconnected, which connection is ahuge part of many of these volunteer experiences, the team building aspects, ahuge piece of these volunteer experiences. And so if a not done correctly, wecan see that disconnection take place and then lost packages is another bigone. You know, shipping's hard. It's the wild west of shipping today for theforeseeable future. It will be. And so lost packages, people feeling left outthe experience. Those are all kinds that can take place. If things aren'tmanaged accordingly. Now there are some huge positives when it comes toshipping these volunteer experiences, especially as our corporate world becomesmore and more remote, one is hands on while virtual.
Ben (22:44): We like to think of all thesensations we as humans have when we're going through an experience. One ofthem is sight. One of them is sent. One of them is touch. And Touche is areally big one that we like to focus on. Employees feel a strong connectionwhen they can make an impact with something physical. It enables that othersensation that doesn't get enabled through some other volunteer experiences. Sohands on and really touching the product that you're creating like that waterfilter, for example, and understanding the technology of how the filter thatyou are building is going to give 12 people clean water for 10 years. That'spowerful. And so that physical touch is really, really important. Scale is anotherbig thing. Having the ability to ship thousands of packages across the globe toreach employees in any location that they're at is a really, really big pro ofhaving these shipping experiences to enable that hands on component as well. Sowe can reach a lot of employees that way. We also see the ability to volunteeranywhere. Anytime we're going to talk about self-guided formats in a moment butemployees can now volunteer from the
Ben (23:44): Comfort of their home, withtheir families and with their friends, and also get them bought into the causeas well and what their company's doing, which we see is a huge pro throughdoing this family and friends involved. We touched on that and also we maintainan impact when this is done well, when we're doing carbon offsets with theshipments, we're sourcing the right kind of packaging and we're making surewe're shipping things and enabling volunteers that are going to actually makean impact. That's really important here. And when done successfully like withwater filters, for example, this works really, really well. So there are prosand there are cons of obviously shipping volunteer experiences. And this reallyleads us to be conscious of your ship. There's a lot of things that could bedone to make sure we're doing everything we can to maximize impact andeliminate those downsides when it comes to shipping and volunteer experiences.
Ben (24:32): There's a lot of sustainableoptions out there. Thankfully eco packaging is one of them. There's recycledpackaging and there's also fully compostable packaging as well today. A greatvendor that we like to use at we hero is eco and close so much so that theyeven do algae based inks just to minimize that environmental impact thatpackaging can have. So again, eco and close is a great vendor. There's plentyof others out there that do amazing job using recycled packaging or fullycompostable packaging that we highly recommend. Another thing is offset yourshipping. It is so easy and so cost effective today to do the carbon offsetsfor your shipping. You can even make it. So it's a carbon negative experienceand pay a little bit more to make sure that we're making these experiences asimpactful as possible. So lots of vendors out there very easy to do.
Ben (25:19): If you want to just increasethe positives through every single piece of the logistics pipeline that yourevent has plant some trees or do something else for every box that's shippedfor some of our larger boxes, we plant five trees for every one of those boxes.It's a really easy way to maximize impact through every stage of the shippingand volunteer experience process. And again, just maximizes that impact acrossthe board. And that leads us to, you know, making sure that for every negativewe're creating a much bigger, positive, some volunteer experiences. It doesn'tmake sense to ship them because the impact is too low. We want to make surethat we're doing everything we can throughout that volunteer experience to makesure we're maximizing the positive and that it greatly outweighs the negativeconsequences of doing so. So we want to have that multiplier when it comes toimpact, we want to make sure we're using that leverage of shipping to create ahuge amount of impact and engage employees at scale to maximize that impact.
Ben (26:12): So again, something to considerwhen you go into shipping your volunteer experiences, and we really encouragecompanies consider the hands on piece, because there's a lot of benefits to it.There's a lot of physical connection. There's a lot of tangible connection thatpeople have when they're doing these volunteer experiences. We, again andagain, in our surveys understand now that employees really want to have thattangible impact that hands on impact. Again, I use the water filter example,but there are so many others and people really crave that sensation. Again,hands on volunteering is a great opportunity for employee activation. It can bejust the starting point for future volunteer efforts down the road. Again,taking someone from a level, one volunteer, that's volunteering for their veryfirst time going through an activation like this and then getting them to be alevel two and level three volunteer.
Ben (26:57): And again, this is amazing forfamilies and friends that can learn about what your company is supporting andabout the positive impact that your company is making involving those familiesinvolving those friends is really special. And it also allows volunteers attimes to complete the volunteer experience at a time and in a place that makessense for them. So it just engages more employees by making it easier tovolunteer at a location that makes sense for them. Now the next format we're goingto take a look at is not a new one. It's skills based volunteering. Many of youare likely very familiar with skills based volunteering, but there's a lot ofnew formats that we want to consider to make these programs more successful andmore exciting for the volunteer today. There are some challenges. Employeeshave to make an effort to source skills based volunteer opportunities.
Ben (27:42): Right now there's a lot ofmarketplaces and platforms where nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities.Then employees can go and apply for those opportunities. It can be quitecumbersome though. And a lot of time can be consumed and applying for theseprograms. And also there's a lot of, a lot of quality checks to make sure thatthe experience is going to be a really good one. We have a lot of stories ofemployees going into this experience, not having the experience they expect andnot feeling like they made a ton of impact and being discouraged to volunteerin the future. And so that's something we want to consider. The other thing isthat there's 619,000 virtual volunteer opportunities out there today, siftingthrough that to identify volunteer opportunities that meet the timerequirements that you have, that support the causes that you want to supportand that your company wants to support.
Ben (28:27): And to make sure that's anexperience that you will enjoy and that you feel like you're actually makingimpact in. It's really hard to narrow down and find those experiences. Sothere's challenges there. There's also a threat of busy work time and time.Again, we have employees that go, Ugh, I went through the volunteer experience.It just felt like busy work. We need to do everything we can to eliminate that.because we run a huge risk of having a level two volunteer someone that's beenvery excited about volunteering for the company, go down to a level one, viceversa. We could have a level one volunteer doing this for their very first timeand not have a very good experience and never want to come back and engage withthe company and volunteer experience ever again. So things we need to considerand challenges that companies are currently facing.
Ben (29:07): Now, there are some things thatare really exciting us right now with skill spaced. And one of the thingsthat's exciting us is companies that are actually flipping the model around.And what we mean by that is again, going back to the standard marketplace wherenonprofits would post volunteer opportunities. There are platforms out therethat are allowing employees to post their skill sets as an opportunity. Thennonprofits, as they have projects can go and invite those employees toparticipate in a skills based program with them. It's much more time effectivefor the employees and the experiences are much better because nonprofits arecreating programs and creating projects that can actually fit the skillsetsthat the employees have in doing that matchmaking process. It's also increasingthe amount impact being generated as well. With that formula, a company that'swonderful at this is Revere software. They do a great job at flipping thismodel around highly recommend, taking a look at the work that they're doing andwhy that adjustment in the model has been so successful for companies that areworking in that capacity.
Ben (30:04): Another area that's reallyexciting us right now is curated volunteer projects. Again, there's 600,000plus virtual volunteer experiences out there. So sifting through that noise canbe really challenging. And so having curation be done in advance beforeemployees go to a volunteer for those opportunities is really healthy. We canmake sure that the volunteer opportunities are aligning with the goals that thecompany has aligning with the cause areas that the company has and making surealso that it's an experience that's acceptable for the company's standards. Andwhat I mean by that is that the experience is going to be really powerful andbeneficial and high impact for the volunteer that's doing that. The other thingwe want to do is make sure we're vetting the nonprofits in advance to make surethey're really good nonprofits. And this is all in an effort to make sure theseemployees are going to have really good experiences.
Ben (30:51): They're going to maximizeimpact and they're going to come back for future engagements. So everyopportunity they have when they're volunteering, it's an opportunity for themto have a good experience and come back and keep making that impact increaseand increase that level from level one to level two, to level threevolunteerism and last but not least when it comes to that curation is justmaking sure that there's a massive impact when we're curating theseopportunities. We can make sure that the impact is at such a level that itmakes sense for the company. It makes sense for the employee and the time thatthey're about to donate to that cause area. So something we want to considerand something that gets us very excited right now about curating projects likethis, the next area, or the next four matches say that's really exciting us isself-guided volunteer experiences.
Ben (31:33): Now, what does this look like?Self-Guided volunteer experiences is really masterclass meeting volunteering.So it has a shipping or fully virtual component to it. But let's take theshipping component as an example, and let's take our water filter example. Abox shows up at somebody's doorstep. It has all the water filter components,but rather than that employee jumping on for a live experience, there's a QRcode in the box. They scan it and there's a set of chapters and videos and theyget to learn at their own pace about the cause. Hear stories about people thatare receiving the filters that they are creating. And they get to do that at atime that works best for them and in a place that works best for them. Theywant to involve their friends and their family. They can absolutely do so.Self-Guided volunteer. Formats are great because it allows us to get a lot ofengagement, allows employees to do this at a time that's convenient for them,especially in a fast paced company where time is really valuable and hard toget a hold of.
Ben (32:26): And it really makes it so thatit's a curity experience and not a purely VTO experience. VTO. It's tough. Wehave a lot of employees that say it's just tough for us to take the initiativeand find time to dedicate a half day or full day to go out and volunteer.Self-Guided volunteer experiences really solve that. And today with the contentthat's being created with nonprofits or by partners that are helping thosenonprofits to capture those stories and help people understand why thenonprofit is so powerful and impactful in the world of day is really special.And having people be able to go on watch 15 minutes and participate for 15minutes in a volunteer experience, take a pause, come back the next day andfinish. It has been really successful, especially for companies that have avery tough time getting employees to engage at the same time on the same day.
Ben (33:14): And so again, self-guided hasbeen a form that we've seen rise in popularity. It's become really successfulagain for a lot of companies for that flexibility for maximizing the impact andgetting lots of employees engaged. It's also really powerful and successful foremployees that are a little bit reluctant to volunteer. Frankly, thoseemployees that I don't have the time to volunteer. I, you know, I volunteered alot in the past. I don't have time to do it in the corporate environment. It'sa really good setup for a level one volunteer where they can easily do it, havethat hands on experience and then go, okay. That was actually took me not a lotof time, made a huge amount of impact in the amount of time that I spent onthat experience. And I might do another one and we see that time and time againalso worth noting.
Ben (33:56): There's purely virtualself-guided experiences out there as well. So again, self-guided as a format,very popular and can be very successful for a lot of companies that are lookingto increase engagement out there and do volunteerism at scale. Now, at thistime we want to take a big picture step. And again, this is not a prescriptivesession. Like we said at the beginning, this is a brain jamming idea generatingsession. So again, there's so many other formats that exist out there. We hopethose are some formats that piqued your interest. And we think they're lowhanging fruit in the sense of a lot of companies could do this right now, butat this stage of the session, we really want to take a big picture view andthink about what our volunteer programs can look like five years from now. So Ichallenge all of you right now to take a moment and reflect and think about whatdo you want your volunteer program to look like in five years?
Ben (34:44): What's the impact that you'recreating? How are you going to get there? What are the experiences look like?And what are the technologies and formats that you can use? And two predictionsthat we have five years from now that we're already seeing become more popularis the rise of self-guided experiences. Again, that masterclass being blendedwith volunteerism. And again, I talked about the beginning, employees arecraving experiences, more than events in our business environment. Ouremployees are craving more consumer-like experiences rather than business-likeexperiences the experiences and the content that's created today and the thingsand the choice that we have today's world, the bar is so high. And so we haveto recreate that in an exciting way in the world of volunteering and have thesame level of engagement and part participation that we're looking for from ourcorporate groups and from our employees when it comes to volunteerism.
Ben (35:37): And so self-guided does that ina really great way, because the content can be really powerful. And when it'sdone correctly and employees have the flexibility to do it at their own time.So again, big prediction of more popular experiences that are to come.Self-Guided being a really big part of that format. The other thing that wethink about a lot is how web three and the metaverse and simulations are goingto play a role in volunteerism. We talked a lot about how storytelling andempathy are so important for creating very powerful experiences for ourvolunteers, web three, and the metaverse are already getting to add to that,the use of VR and the use of immersing people and experiences. They canactually understand the choices that have to be made a difficult circumstances.What's actually happening to our planet when it comes to climate change, what'shappening to our oceans right now because of plastic waste.
Ben (36:23): The more we can do to immersepeople in those experiences and help them fully understand the challenges thatare being faced, the more they'll be able to do. And the more inspired theywill be to go out and respond in a way with their company through volunteerism.And so web three will be really powerful and it's already happening in thisnext video. I'm going to show you a snapshot of getting water every day. Forexample, this is a video that was done by Heffer international and incrediblenonprofit focused on supporting people across the globe and alleviating themfrom poverty. And so again, you can see this 360 video, we're actually able toimmerse ourselves in these situations where people are doing on a day to daybasis. And for this case, it's, it's getting water and what that actually lookslike and actually feels like, and the goal here is that that storytelling andthat empathy piece is so much more powerful than it has been in the past.
Ben (37:15): Now we covered a lot ofinformation today, a lot about volunteering, a lot of different formats and youknow, it can be a lot. And again, this is just a brainstorming session. We hopethat people have new ideas that are coming out of this. And we're only able toscratch the surface with the time that we had here today. But there are a fewlevers for execution, a few things that you could do to make your life easy andthings that we're seeing that are very successful right now. One is that whenit comes to engagement, there's an easy way to get higher engagement numbers.And that's just understanding that volunteering is very seasonal. When we lookat the hundreds of companies that we partner with, for example there are keypoints in the year where volunteering is in high demand versus other times ofyear.
Ben (37:55): And just by timing, yourexperiences that are curated you can have it at huge bump in engagement. And soI always try to encourage folks let's roll the build Boulder down the hillinstead of pushing the Boulder uphill. So doing volunteer experiences duringearth day during giving Tuesday during other social impact days throughout theyear where people are already excited about the cause area is a huge one and ahuge lever that you can pull at WEHI has a social impact calendar. You can takea look at and it's free on our website and you can see social impact days thatwe know employees care about. And we know they're going to be wanting toparticipate at higher rates than they would be on just a traditional Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday during the work week. Self-Guided format mats are enablingscale self-guided is a really easy transition to make for a lot of companies.
Ben (38:42): And so it can be a huge enablerin increasing engagement, especially for companies that are struggling withengagement right now can really help you reach those numbers and those goalsthat you're looking for and help activate more employees getting them from thatlevel one to that level two and three volunteer that we're all looking to getto testing constantly and launching new formats. We talked about how importantit is to launch new formats and keep things exciting. We really encourage folksjust as an easy lever to test every company's a little different. The goals area little different, the culture's different. And so testing and figuring outwhat formats are successful and which ones are not, is going to be reallybeneficial. So we encourage you throughout the year and every year to test newexperiences here and there, see what employees really gravitate towards andthen move on from there with your investments to make sure that your'rebuilding volunteer programs that your team members and your employees reallycare about and skills space continues to boom.
Ben (39:35): We have a lot of employees thatare becoming more and more educated about skills space, which is very exciting.So thinking about the formats of skills space that you can do that can scalereally nicely and you can make sure you're maximizing impact and giving folks areally good experience. So again, going back to those format changes that we'reseeing in skill space that are working really, really well is a really easylever to pull a really easy switch, to make and can make a huge amount ofimpact in the long run. And last but not least is just building mission andpurpose into everything you're doing. I think a lot of companies, they are,they don't have that, that goal post that we were talking about earlier, theydon't have that mission for employees to go after that tangible number, thattangible goal, whatever it is, and having a mission, a social impact missionfor your company.
Ben (40:19): And that statement of what thatlooks like is really beneficial and gives that goal post and that beacon foremployees to chase after and help them understand why our company is sopassionate about this. We see a lot of companies where volunteers arevolunteering, supporting causes all over the place, which is awesome. It's socool to see that hundreds of nonprofits being supported by thousands ofemployees. But I think a mix is really beneficial where there are some curatedvolunteer experiences that are dedicated to supporting specific cause areas andspecific goals for the mission that the company has set in regards to whatthey're going to do in regards to social impact. And that's a clear messagethat translates to E translates into everything that the company does, why wework here, why employees want to work here, what our brand sentiment lookslike. All of that can be translated through a mission driven impact statement.
Ben (41:06): And so something to think aboutas you're doing all, this is having that goal post, making sure that mission'sreally clear and understanding what your big goal is for the work that you're goingto be doing at your company. So I think you all so much for listening to thispresentation again, we were just able to scratch the surface of whatvolunteerism is doing today. There are so many new formats and there are somany changes happening out there. Even right now, we're seeing new things comeout that are so exciting. And so we hope this was just an idea generatingsession for you. It's not a prescription session. We don't want to tell you todo this, do this because every company's goals and every culture and what theemployees want to do is so different every single time. So we hope this gaveyou some wonderful ideas. We're here to support with anybody that's looking tomake these changes or try new formats or find more success in their volunteerprograms. I've provided my contact information on our website here on the thankyou slide. So please feel free to reach out, happy to support folks in any waythey need. So thank you again. We hope you have a wonderful rest of this pointof light conference. And again, if you have any questions, please reach out.We're here to help.

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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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