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America’s Big Companies Make Big Difference

America’s large corporations are leading the way when it comes to employee volunteer programs (EVP).  Even though they are from different sectors of the business world, many of their EVP strategies are similar.  From a logistical standpoint, they have capitalized on their strengths and put them to work in their community.  From a public relations perspective, they have put an emphasis on branding and created unforgettable names for their programs.  In general, most offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and concentrate on improving the lives of individuals in their employees local areas.  The following are just a few of many outstanding EVP programs.

The UPS Neighbor to Neighbor Program

As a truly global organization, United Parcel Service (UPS) has the ability to change the world — one community at a time.  Its Neighbor to Neighbor program was founded in 1993 and consists of UPS employees and their families and is managed by the company’s philanthropic arm, the UPS Foundation.  In 2004 alone, members of the program logged neighbors_helping_neighborsalmost 345,000 hours.  Although the program is worldwide, needs are assessed and focused at the local level.  Employees who interact with the community are encouraged to bring their insight as to what projects are most needed in each geographic area.  Volunteer activities range from mentoring at-risk youth and serving in soup kitchens to Habitat for Humanity building projects and Special Olympic event coordination.

For the past three years the grand finale of the company’s volunteer efforts has been its Global Volunteer Week.  During the seven-day span, thousands of employees in over 45 countries have given back to their communities by painting schools, refurbishing shelters, and staffing food banks, among other tasks.  In its inaugural year of 2005, over 20,000 employees around the world took part in at least one volunteer opportunity.

The Neighbor to Neighbor program is able to maintain its local focus because it is administered through each districts coordinator.  This UPS employee is responsible for matching employees interests, abilities, and schedules with available volunteer activities.

Honda of America Manufacturing’s Hero Program and Dollars for Doers Grants

One person can make a difference, one hour can change a lifetime, one act of kindness can impact a life forever, and one community can touch the world. This is Honda of America Manufacturing’s philosophy on volunteerism.  The company encourages employees and their family members, as well as retirees, to donate their time and talents through the Honda Hero Program.  Since 1995, more than 1,900 individuals have donated over 420,000 hours of their personal time to organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Salvation Army, and Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops.

Honda highlights the work of their Heroes by acknowledging their efforts through company-produced media, such as their internal TV network, newsletter publications, and a special reward program called Dollars for Doers.  Heroes who contribute a total of 50 hours to one eligible organization in a years time can then apply for a Dollars for Doers grant.  The funds are then given directly to the charity.  Since its inception, Heroes have granted over $850,000 to nonprofit organizations in their communities.

Walt Disney’s VoluntEARS Program

Disney has been making children’s wishes come true in more ways than one.  Since the company’s start in 1923, volunteerism has been at the forefront.  Last year alone, company VoluntEARS gave over 442,000 hours of their personal time in volunteer activities, most of them focusing on children or families.

Each region has some degree of autonomy and identity of its own.  Take for instance, Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort.  Its program is administrated by a 45-member Leadership Council and overseen by the Manager of Disney VoluntEARS and Cast Initiatives from Community Relations.  Some of last years highlights include:

  • Over 103,000 volunteer hours donated to the community
  • 103 VoluntEARS projects offered
  • More than 1,000 pints of blood donated to the American Red Cross
  • Over 12,000 toys donated to Toys for Tots
  • Ninety-one families, 69 children, and 162 seniors adopted in their holiday adopt-a-family program

Disney’s locations not only include their resorts in California, Florida, and Hong Kong, but also media partners ABC, ESPN, Buena Vista (among others) in New York City, and Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles.  Other initiatives include Disney character visits to childrens hospitals, backpack drives, and Secret Santa, just to name a few.

Home Depot’s Team Depot

Home Depot’s volunteer arm, Team Depot, centers on what the company knows and does best.  It focuses on building and refurbishing homes and playgrounds.

The company’s most natural fit, of course, is with Habitat for Humanity.  Team Depot has contributed to the construction of over 160 new homes and has assisted in the renovationconstruction_volunteers of over 20,000 houses for the elderly and disabled.  Their efforts have improved over 230 communities in conjunction with their Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April.

For over ten years, Home Depot has also partnered withKaBOOM!, an organization dedicated to providing playgrounds for children throughout the country.  This partnership has resulted in the completion of over 400 playgrounds for children in underprivileged communities.  Recently the two organizations have announced a bold new plan to build or recondition 1,000 play areas in 1,000 days in North America.  The Home Depot will donate $25 million and almost one million hours of volunteer time to help meet this goal.

Not only does Home Depot recognize the importance of promoting volunteerism within their organization, but the corporation is also striving to increase the number of volunteers throughout the country.  Partnering with other businesses and organizations, the goal is to garner an additional 6.4 million new volunteers and increase local volunteerism by ten percent over the next two years.

A Blueprint for Success

Although the companies mentioned here employ thousands, the same principles used in their EVPs can be implemented in any organization, regardless of size.  The most important factor is to balance your company’s strengths with your community’s needs.  This will allow both your company and your community to shine.

Headshot of Christine Litch

About Christine Litch

Christine Litch has over a decade of experience working in the nonprofit industry, specializing in helping nonprofits do more with technology.

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