The Power of Volunteerism

In our interview process, we ask a lot of questions intended to get down to the nitty gritty of who someone really is.

  • If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?
  • What is something you’ve taught yourself lately?
  • What are things that light you up?
  • We are strangers and we meet in line at a concert. How do you get the conversation started?

We ask about music. If you’re not a fan, you might be annoyed by The Beastie Boys, Zach Brown or Anderson Paak streaming in our offices. And you might not join us at the amazing Band Together give back to community concerts, where our team volunteers. And on that note, we ask another important question: “What are your favorite nonprofits where you volunteer?” Blank stares don’t bode very well for a fit.

We have realized that great staffers and volunteers share these qualities:

  1. Optimism. They need a profound sense of hope that we can be better people and companies.
  2. Rebellion. They need to be curious and have a sense that the rules can be broken, and we can rewrite them if we want to improve things.
  3. Empathy. They need to feel the pain of others. If we do not feel that pain, things will not get better through action.  

Unfortunately, society measures a decent life by how big your home is, your fast car and your fancy-pants clothes. We spend too much time trying to gain things we think we need. Life should be measured by who we are, how we treat people, our attitudes and kindness. We need to start looking out for each other as well as ourselves.

“We sort by skin color. Gender. Disability. Nationality. Religion. Height. That’s useless. The alternatives? Kindness. Expertise. Attitude. Emotional Intelligence. Honesty. Generous persistence. Risk Taking. Loyalty. Attention span. Care. Self-awareness…”  – Seth Godin

And we can’t think of a better path to becoming better people than through volunteerism. Companies that marry their core values with causes that align with them should get the glitteriest of gold stars, especially when they are able to motivate staff to volunteer on the company dime. Purposeful volunteerism is contagious. For employee engagement. For employee’s families. For vendor partners. For customers. According to Project ROI, social responsibility programs can reduce turnover by 50%! Creating a volunteer program can be a multiplier. And remember that volunteerism can be fun, and fun is contagious too.

Here is Brand Fuel’s Corporate Giving strategy on Time, Treasure and Talent.

Volunteerism also delivers a sense of belonging and community. So, do as Hunter S. Thompson says and “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” Raise your hand high and volunteer with intent. If your organization does not have a program, create one!

Here are 8 steps to creating a Volunteer Program. (ps don’t forget the branded volunteer team gear)

75% of millennials would take a pay cut for the opportunity to work with a socially responsible company,” according to a Cone Study.

Remember to give before you take. Show before you say. Do the work of the heart. And, if you are lucky, your passions and your day job will coexist. Your efforts will positively ripple into lives of people you may never meet. And that is the stuff of legacy.

Small acts, like handing out daisies to strangers, can really make someone’s day. You never know what people are going through and how a small, thoughtful act is going to affect them. Small acts of kindness matter and they add up.

Conscious entrepreneurship is a call to action to leaders in the for-profit AND nonprofit worlds. A call to drive more purpose in their work. We must consider how businesses can positively impact society. To merge innovation with caring. Caring, after all, is a great strategic plan. Cause-marketing also offers entrepreneurs a way to serve community as well as their bottom lines. But we best navigate cause-marketing thoughtfully and transparently or we will be exposed by consumers who are watching, voting with their dollars and who are willing to expose frauds. In other words, “purpose first and profit second” is ok from time to time.

“A 2017 study, performed by Deloitte, found that 77% of respondents believe volunteerism is essential to employee well-being and that 70% thought volunteerism was more effective at boosting morale than company happy hours.  Finally, the study showed that workplace volunteerism can boost brand perception.”

We must reassess our corporate values if we are to remain relevant as entrepreneurs. Let’s do what we can to use our businesses as forces for good. Volunteer programming in your organization can be a powerful way to start.

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