2020: Corporate volunteering is NOT cancelled.
Guest blog by Johanna Krogh, Senior Social Impact & Engagement Specialist at Health Carousel LLC
So, I have to just say this right now, 2020 is a #noexcuses kind of year. If you think that corporate volunteering is cancelled, that is false. With hundreds of (finger quotes) normal in-person fundraising events cancelled, volunteering and donations are needed more than ever! Plus, you can still make it fun AND safe for your employees!
Rewind a little bit to March of this year when the pandemic first hit, within the first 48 hours of the safer-at-home orders, many workplaces had transitioned to mostly, if not fully, remote work to ensure the health and safety of their employees and families. Many of us thought it was going to be 2 weeks or a month, tops. Cut to eight months later, and we are still here.
In the midst of a global pandemic, incredible social movements, and a presidential election year, the need for community support is higher than ever. There is also a need for resources that are quickly decreasing. So, as leaders ensuring that our companies are responsible corporate citizens, what CAN we do?
The benefits of corporate volunteering during COVID
At Health Carousel, we doubled down on our commitment to rise to the challenge and reach for excellence by increasing our ability to give back. We wanted to make it easier for our employees and community members, to give back when, where, and how they are able and passionate.
This spring, as the pandemic was just ramping up, we were thrilled to announce our investment in women-founded and owned POINT app for volunteering and donations! Health Carousel’s decision to provide the POINT app to our employees and community partners came when we asked: how can we apply the concept of our Digital Vision to our Social Impact strategy? This allowed us to not only provide employees with the best digital resources but also to have an even bigger impact on our communities.
Health Carousel’s approach to community engagement is as unique as our employees, who are passionate about giving back to the communities in which they live, work, and play. The only effect COVID-19 has had on our efforts is that they have gone almost all virtual! (To be totally honest, our employees are incredibly sad we can’t be in person for most things.)
Turns out… our leaders and employees have completely embraced the digital universe. Our team curated some seriously high-impact virtual experiences towards our higher purpose of improving lives and making healthcare work better.
Corporate volunteering initiatives keep employees engaged
For example, September kicked off our new Fighting Cancer in the Fall initiative. Each week we shared education, resources, ways to make an impact, and our Ray of Light stories. The aim was to spread awareness, support, and connect with our employees. We believe that sharing and hearing personal stories is one way to become better together. As an organization, we listen to our employee’s stories and provide opportunities for deeper employee connections and awareness.
We focused on supporting three main organizations this fall – the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The American Cancer Society, and NoShaveNovember with the Matthew Hill Foundation. We had a virtual paint night, virtual Go Pink Day, virtual walk, and virtual happy hour. (Did you notice the theme? Virtual!)
The icing on the cake of our virtual journey was our Virtual Raffle. Employees and leaders donated different (virtual) experiences or goods that were highly personalized to each individual. Some of the amazing auction items were a virtual 1:1 bourbon mixology session with a VP, a golf outing with the CEO, a custom doggie treat basket, a wine basket, custom-made earrings, and so much more!
Our employees had SO MUCH FUN. We had employees across the U.S. – Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Dallas, Cleveland, Denver, and Atlanta hang out on a Wednesday night over a Microsoft Teams video call. Throughout the night, we pulled names from the 4800 raffle tickets and selected 50 winners of our prizes. The text chat was LIT! (Get it? Light the Night…LIT?)
Did we mention this was all done VIRTUALLY?
The most powerful part of this week of events was not just about the money – although that is incredible!!! We learned that we’re not that far apart. Despite social distancing and being in remote cities, we can still come together and have meaningful connections while doing good. And we can have a lot of fun doing it!
How to create successful virtual corporate volunteering experiences
- Step into the 21st century – don’t fear the distance created by remote work or view technology as “cold” and disconnected. Close that distance by using the incredible digital tools at your fingertips like the POINT app, free survey tools, virtual experiences, Microsoft Teams, and so many more to simplify and bring people together.
- Know your employees – by knowing what personally motivates and connects your employees and trying to reach out to recognize and elevate someone’s story of hope, you can build a meaningful shared experience. The experience will have a lasting impact on you and your employees.
- Have fun! – Revolutionary, I know. The fact is, remote work makes employee engagement different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard. Shift your perspective and remember that we all like to kick back and have a little fun. The more fun and meaningful the experience, the greater the impact it will on the community and your employees.
Johanna Krogh is the Senior Social Impact & Engagement Specialist with Cincinnati-based healthcare staffing company Health Carousel LLC, managing their award-winning social impact strategy. Growing up in a family who cared for foster babies gave her a different outlook on life and a more powerful meaning behind “it takes a village.” As a passionate believer in giving what, where, how, and when you are able, Johanna is constantly looking for innovative and impactful ways to engage with employees and the community to do more good. When she’s not working, Johanna serves on the American Heart Association Cincinnati Heart Mini Leader Cabinet. Her favorite way to give back is by participating in nonprofit walks with her dog, Dory.