Corporate Volunteerism

One of the hottest buzzwords circulating in philanthropy today is “corporate volunteerism.” At first glance, it just sounds like another attempt for businesses to better themselves in the public eye without actually affecting any real change. However, corporate volunteerism is redefining the way we look at both nonprofit giving and the power of businesses to make a difference.

What it is.

Corporate volunteerism, also commonly known as EVPs or Employee Volunteer Programs, is a way for companies to leverage their potential when it comes to trying better the communities where they do business and in which they generally operate. Corporate volunteerism proffers corporations and employees alike the opportunity to experience the good they can do firsthand and how their efforts can impact the lives of others in their own communities. It also allows for corporations to make a difference and inspire change at a much lower cost to the business than traditional philanthropy practices of donating large sums of money. EVPs can also double as excellent team building activities to help encourage cohesion within your company or office and build relationships that will translate into more effective company practices.

Why it can help your business.

  • Corporate volunteering programs increase employee engagement.

As a company, if you want your employees to look at your business as more than just the 9 to 5 grind, you’re going to need to find a way to to engage them with the company outside of work in a way to which they’ll be responsive. Corporate volunteerism offers your employees a chance to be involved with programs and initiatives that lend a sense of meaning and purpose to their work outside of earning a paycheck. This is not only more likely to attract employees to the business, but can also help you retain valuable employees longer. Volunteering opportunities also give you, as a business manager, a platform where you can help foster an development leadership skills in your employees.  

  • The millennial generation wants to give back.

As a whole, the Millennial generation likes to make decisions and choices based on the positive impact that they will bring about. According to a Fortune article, Millennials are far more likely to voice their opinion about the importance of businesses in America to give back to society than either of the two generations preceding them. As the millennial generation fully enters the workforce, it brings the largest living generation, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers with 75.4 million, and if you want to take full advantage of the potential they bring with them, you need to engage with them in a manner to which they’ll be responsive — corporate volunteerism is a great way to achieve that goal.

The Importance of Networking

In today’s world, networking is crucial: Whether you’re looking to expand your business’s outreach, promote a project, or find a new job, one of the best tools to have in your corner is a well-developed network full of people who either have what you need or can help you find someone who does. If you’re looking to advance your career or even just want to connect with other professionals within your given industry, you need to give networking a try. Still not convinced? Check out these four reasons why networking is important.

Networking is about more than searching for a job.

While having a wide network of people is certainly helpful when you’re on the job hunt, it’s not the only time that professional connections can benefit you. Networking is a great way to learn more about your industry by interacting with and asking questions to other professionals whose pool of knowledge you’d like to tap into. Everyone has different experiences with their jobs, so asking questions and seeking advice from fellow professionals can help you determine how to handle difficult situations should they arise.

Everyone is networking.

While “everyone is doing it” may not be a good case for most things, in the case of networking it’s a good argument for it. If everyone else is out there making industry connections and linking up with people outside of their industry while you aren’t, when the time comes that having a network could strongly benefit you — looking to promote a cause, asking for industry advice, searching for a job — you’ll find that your resources are lacking what you need most in today’s market.

Networking is the act that keeps on giving.

If you’re effectively networking with people in and out of your industry, it should hold true that the more people you meet, the more opportunities you’ll have, which in turn will lead to you meeting more people and being presented with more opportunities and so on. Like many things in life, you get out of networking what you put into it, so doing it halfheartedly will result in halfhearted returns.

Networking can help you determine where you want your career to go.

Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, once famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with,” meaning you share personality traits and characteristics with the 5 closest people in your life, both personal and professional. If you want to get ahead with your career or are looking to find positive influences in  your life, networking and finding a mentor can help you plot out your future and reach your career goals.

Ted Talks: Listen, Learn…Then Lead

 

Stanley McChrystal goes into depth in this enlightening Ted Talk about the value of listening and learning in leadership. He references his former position in the military as a place in which many people of different ages and temperaments had to be brought together for a united cause. Leaders in the military were able to make great teams by listening to others and learning from mistakes. McChristal’s advice can be broadened to include all leaders.

TedTalks: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

Is your school or workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create.

TedTalks: Alexa von Tobel and Personal Finance

Alexa von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com which she has been developing and growing since 2006. LearnVest is the leading personal finance and lifestyle website that brings financial literacy to women. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely quoted as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur in top tier business and consumer publications including: New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, BusinessWeek, Shape, Fast Company, Marie Claire, ForbesWoman, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, among many others

In this TedTalk segment, Alexa discusses how you as a young professional can assume the necessary control of your personal finances through her five principles.

TedTalks: Simon Sinek, Why Good Leaders make you feel Safe

What makes a great leader? Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests, it’s someone who makes their employees feel secure, who draws staffers into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility.

To learn more, please refer to the video above.

What Great Leadership can do at the Workplace

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Many people equate leadership with a specific position or job title. But, at the end of the day, you need more than just the fancy title on the door to be the transformative change at your workplace.

When it comes to defining leadership, the definition in itself is incredibly difficult to summarize in just one sentence. The reason why is that leadership is often subjective. Every business owner, CEO, and rising star wants to personify the necessary characteristics of a strong and transformative leader. But how can you be a good leader without a centralized definition?

The answer is simple. Leadership does not have a one size fit all definition. Instead it encompasses a variety of ideas, concepts, examples, and character traits that personify the essence that many professional individuals try to achieve each and every day. While at times, this can be confusing, understanding these various concepts will allow us to grow and develop within our professional industries.

So what is true leadership? How do I become that game changer at my workplace?

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When we identify leadership, we need to understand that leadership is more than just a title or longevity at a workplace. Instead, leadership is the ability to influence people to achieve a better result for an organization or group. It is the power to ignite action and creativity within your workers. But most importantly, it is the modesty of adapting ones style and communication when circumstances require them to do so. For this to happen, a leader must first understand their strengths, weaknesses, and goals through self-reflection.

While many people find internal reflection as a new age concept, the overall idea has actually been around for years. Through reflection, professional individuals are actually able to clarify their professional strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their professional futures. By conceptualizing these three big categories, an individual is able to effectively create and communicate positive and tangible steps to help motivate and alter their work to be the best that it can be. In addition, that sense of clarity allows that individual to take risk at opportunities that go beyond his or her title. This exhibition of drive and self-confidence of their work and personality eventually becomes infectious to those around them. Now, while some individuals can leverage that position to climb and build their name, true leaders use this time to inspire and drive action.

            Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Once you are able to articulate and resonate your goals and work ethics internally, you are now able to empower others through action and direction. Yes, a part of this deals with making difficult decisions. But in any position of power, you need to recognize the influence you are able to make in a grander scale.  Now this will never be easy. At times, you will be asked to utilize your position of power that best meets the productions needs. Think of this as micromanagement. Before any sense of autonomy is given, you want to make sure that your workers are able to do the task at a specific standard. This will require more of an authoritative approach because of the specific guidelines and expectations you want them meeting. While this starting approach will not make you the most popular individual, it will gain you the necessary support in establishing yourself at your workplace. Also, in reality, you cannot be seen as the ‘fun’ boss every time. Like it or not, you will be asked to make some unfavorable decisions and that will require you to accept that everything is your fault. The only way to help change that is to refine your weakest links and optimize that flaw to its fullest.

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Once you are able to establish that authority, now you will be able to build that personal relationship needed to motivate your employees each and every day. In the pop-culture show Suits, Mike Ross always says this one line: “If I read something, I understand it. Once I understand it, I never forget it.” To take that a step further, once you are able to establish the internal understanding of your vision and goals with your workers, you are able to cultivate a more organic and positive work culture. At the end of the day, your employees at your workplace want to know that their work provides a purpose. Your job is to show them that. Begin by inspiring them to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. As a leader, it is your job to identify the standard bar and create a higher one so that they can be bigger than themselves. This type of challenge is something that personifies the true action and mentality of a strong leader. For this to happen, you of course need to be honest and transparent with your workers.

Being transparent often times can be perceived as something negative. While it may be difficult to give that type of feedback, having a strong line of communication with your employees will help aid them in improving their abilities, skills, and style that meets the workplace demands. To help alleviate the intensity of this talk and inspire action above anything, restate and remind your values, beliefs, and management philosophy with your workers. Show them not what you want, but what they are looking to accomplish. Once you are able to listen and understand their goals will you be able to align their views with yours and your company. This in turn will help you unlock their potential in becoming the person they dared to be.

Now all of this may sound difficult, but that is what it takes to be a true game changer within the workplace. It is about understanding, educating, and leading those around you in order to get the best from your people. For many people, this is daunting. But if you are looking to be great, do not be afraid to challenge the status quo. Raise your voice and the voices of others so that you can build a standard beyond the normal limitations.

Improving Company Culture

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Regardless of what industry you are in, building a strong and engaging company culture within a team is the cornerstone of any business’s success. To do this, we must first understand and conceptualize the definition for an efficient and effective work culture. By definition, company culture is the organizational cultural representation of a corporation’s collective values, beliefs, and principles. To put it in simpler terms, it is the personality and character of a business. The various social norms, style, language, and operational habits of a company represent how an individual should act and perform each and every day. While it may not be easy in establishing this type of fluid and cohesive culture, it will be absolutely vital for your company’s health to do so.

Below, you will find four fundamental steps that you can enhance to improve your company’s culture. Remember, a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. As a business, your job is not just to lead your workers to your goals, but also to inspire and empower their passion and drive so that they can grow personally and professionally within their positions.

1. Be Transparent

You probably heard this word thrown around the office. When it comes down to office culture, you want to ingrain a sense of honesty and transparency in every aspect of the day. Whether you are working with a client or with a coworker, having a sense of transparency will make all the difference when streamlining your communication. To do this effectively, try and give everyone at your company access to as much information as possible. Even if it is bad information, you want your workers to be well aware of the roles they will need to assume for the future. This will establish a sense of trust and belief of the direction and expectation of the company as a whole.

2. Enhance Strong and Communicative Collaboration

You have heard the saying ‘two heads are better than one,’ well the same goes for at the office. To establish an enriching and motivational work culture, you need to make sure that there is a strong sense of collaboration between various parties and departments. One of the most frustrating points an employee can say about a company is the lack of communication and support they are getting from their team or their managers. To avoid this negative mentality, establish that strong line of communication. Enhance the logistics within the departments themselves so that information can be streamlined from one place to the next as efficiently as possible. Last but not least, encourage group collaboration. The best people your employees can learn from are from their own peers and coworkers.

3. Inspire Holistic Thinking

One of the biggest assets you have at your company is simply the people there. For many thriving businesses, executives and managers constantly look to their employees for innovative strategies and new-age thinking. By opening your company to this new style of thinking, you will be able to reflect and revamp any existing weaknesses or flaws that can better grow your company in the future.

4. Establish a Sense of Autonomy

There will be times where you will need to micromanage your group. But unlike the antiquated mentality of authoritative leadership, you want to make sure that you are providing your employees with the opportunity to assume responsibility and ownership of their work. Remember, good leaders manage their workers to complete their objectives; great leaders look to push, inspire, and drive their employees to be better than who they are.

Network Like A Pro

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You probably have heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In today’s interconnected society, it is hard not to believe this simple phrase. Most people attend networking events to gain something.  Whether it is a job, a lead, a referral, or even an unpaid opportunity, networking events provide eager professionals with the community, exposure, and hope in making their professional dreams into a reality.

Over the past few years, I have seen two types of people. Those who walk away from these events disappointed and disheartened by the lack of job prospects and those who are ecstatic and inspired for the future. Now I know what you are thinking, it is not the event that led to this difference. Rather it was the mentality of the individual. For those who leave these events content and enthusiastic about their professional future, they come in simply with a goal in mind. That goal is what allows them to plan, act, and talk in a particular way. It gives them the inspiration to find new professional avenues and the determination in completing each and every task. This type of true network occurs because, at the end of the day, they are looking for something out of these people.

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Now with networking, the goal cannot be to simply get a job. That simplistic goal is oftentimes seen as too broad for it to be beneficial to you. Instead, think of your goal for the day. How many people do you want to talk to? What type of people do you want to talk to? Which field are you interested in? By answering these overarching holistic questions, you will be able to centralize your professional goals to something that goes beyond the job. In fact, by doing this, you will be able to communicate in your purest professional form. Instead of worrying about whether or not you are going to get a job, you will be able to enjoy your conversations with other people and communicate your own passion that can oftentimes catch the eyes of your future employer. Remember, the key fact of networking is to gain a stronger insight on the company (organization or job).

So beyond planning for a goal, what else do I need to know for networking?

When it comes to networking, it is never too early to start, even before you need it. For networking, seasoned networkers are able to see the desperation from individuals from a mile away. Many times this is triggered by a person’s eagerness or panicked looked as they brim through their resume. Instead of seeking an employer, look to build a professional relationship with an individual, even if it doesn’t benefit you in the present time.  This type of professional relationship can lead to new and exciting opportunities later on down the road and can help you develop your career through their particular guidance.

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Now beyond building a professional relationship with these individuals, you also want to come in with an overall plan. While this maybe similar to the concept of ‘establishing your goals’ as stated above, having a plan requires you to do your homework. Your goals maybe something like attending business school or networking with one of the biggest consulting companies. But when creating a plan, this research requires you to learn more about the ins-and-outs of an organization. Before attending any networking event, get a clear idea on the background, strengths, and goals for each company and organization. In addition, create a list of questions that allows you to dig deeper about the company. This type of homework will allow you to map out your overall conversation with the individual before you even speak to them.

Once you have done your homework and established your own personal agenda, you are ready for the show! One tip to keep in mind is to never dismiss anyone as unimportant. At the end of the day, you are there for a reason. Same goes for those individuals representing their companies or organizations. Make it your mission to discover the value in each person you talk to. Leverage what you know and drive out more information that can possibly interest or impact your future. Remember, you never know what impact a person may have later on down the line.

How to Strengthen Your Communication

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Whether you are working in the nonprofit organization or a private sector, communication is absolutely vital to your success. When we think of communication, especially one that deals with a high level of division of labor, you need to understand that your goals and objectives can only be accomplished by a strong and communicative input. This can oftentimes be challenging especially when that input deals with a large channel of people. But, if you are successfully able to micromanage a logistical system for workplace and customer communication, you and your company will be able to thrive each and every day.

Below you will find four areas in which you can improve your communication. Depending on the state of your nonprofit’s brand, you may need to embark on a larger initiative that can reach a variety of channels such as social media or web designing. By targeting these improvements, you will be able to optimize, strengthen, and extend a stronger outreach to a new market and sell your vision and beliefs there.

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Think of a Brand Strategy

This is something we constantly see each and every day. Every company has a specific brand or logo that represents their goals, beliefs, and products. If your organization has never committed itself to a brand strategy engagement, begin by understanding the value a brand can have for your mission. Try to focus on one that highlights and sharpens your image, while also communicating your beliefs and goals. Take for example Nike’s “swoosh” logo. The brand itself is to represent the wing of the statue, Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace. The underlining meaning of the swoosh is to show action and victory in everything that they produce. Similar to Nike, your brand needs to be one that is representational of your foundation.

Communicate with Your Audience

The best way to improve your fundraising is by communicating with the audience. Try and gain a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. At times, people find that the message or issues are too complex for their understanding. If this is something you are seeing at your fundraiser, try and find a way to communicate your vision and goals at a more abridged manner.

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Refine Your Website

Let’s face it. Today we are living in a technologically savvy era where a majority of the public accesses information through the computer or on a mobile device. Because of this, it is imperative to your cause that you have an easy, informative, and well-designed site that can direct your donors in understanding the why, what, where, and how questions they will need to know before making that commitment with your organization. I don’t know how many times where I have seen an incredible cause, but because of their site or lack thereof, many people deterred and eventually change their minds about donating. Make this investment. Yes it will take time and funding, but it is something that will play a large role to the public later on down the road.

SEO Practices

Back in the 90s, SEO and SEO analytics did not exist. Today, we are seeing countless amount of attention in various social media platforms where organizations and companies can reach out to a mass amount of people. Because of its reach, you want to make sure you are optimizing these sites to the best of your abilities. This consists of creating back-links, consistent monthly positing, and online branding so that you can get the best and most organic search performance for your cause.