B Corps Doing Business Better: Building Community and Camaraderie Through Employee Volunteer Days
March 9, 2021
By Providing Paid Time Off for Volunteering and Workplace Opportunities to Donate, B Corps Give Back to Their Communities
When the COVID-19 pandemic shifted many employees from offices to work-at-home setups, it also disrupted workplace culture and team activities. One way that Certified B Corporations build connections between employees and community is by volunteering time or organizing charitable giving efforts — which meant B Corps had to get creative to continue these give-back activities during the last year.
Because B Corps hold community as one of their valued stakeholders, giving back to the people and organizations around them is a strong component of being better businesses. It’s also an important component of B Corp Certification: The B Impact Assessment evaluates B Corps on the strength of their community focus and encourages them to increase and amplify these efforts.
As the pandemic continues and its ripple effects expand, many communities are seeing continued or growing needs for assistance. To learn how B Corps are stepping up to fill gaps in their communities, B The Change reached out to companies on the B Hive, an online communications site for B Corps. Here’s a sampling of how B Corps are helping others around them — and how other businesses can do the same.
Stakeholder Capitalism: The Systemic Change Our Economy Needs
A new impact economy is being built, one where businesses prioritize and consider their impact on all the stakeholders they impact — including communities, workers, customers, and the environment. Download this free report to learn how the stakeholder model as practiced by B Corps is gaining global traction and validation.
Spreading the Good by Spreading the Word
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zelfstroom had to cancel the community days it had planned to volunteer as a group in 2020. Instead, colleagues at the Netherlands solar panel company continue to inspire each other to volunteer individually in their local communities — by sharing examples through internal communication channels such as Microsoft Teams, weekly online stand-ups, or monthly online town hall meetings.
Eva van der Veer of Zelfstroom says sharing volunteer stories has helped to motivate the team through an unusual year. “On the one hand I think it’s a shame we haven’t been able to do more as a company in the last year,” she says. “On the other hand, it’s amazing to see how colleagues keep inspiring each other and initiatives rise from the bottom up.”
Zelfstroom also looks to motivate customers and other stakeholders to volunteer through external communications, like it did for World Cleanup Day in 2020 by sharing on social media how one manager volunteered locally. In another social media post, a colleague provided inspiration for other companies to donate used hardware to a foundation.
Building Community and Camaraderie Through Volunteer Days
At The Myers-Briggs Company, employees get two paid days every year to volunteer for charities. They have the flexibility to choose the charity they want to support and can volunteer individually or in teams. In 2019, to significantly increase the number of employees using their volunteer hours, the B Corp made it a corporate target —and saw the employee interest grow to more than 1,500 hours. Sharing the volunteering experiences in weekly internal newsletters and during company-wide meetings helped engage other employees and encourage them to join in, says Helen Denny of The Myers-Briggs Company.
By providing volunteer days for all employees, The Myers-Briggs Company incorporates community into its culture — and employees say they also benefit and learn from this time spent helping others. Here are a few testimonials from The Myers-Briggs Company employees (aka MBers):
- “I enjoyed volunteering with MBers from other departments at Sunnyvale Community Services. Not only did it provide a connection to our local community, but it was fun to get to work side by side with people I don’t normally get to work with.” — Thad Stephens, Vice President
- “I volunteer for a nonprofit called Freely in Hope. I love supporting this nonprofit because their mission is to help survivors of sexual violence from Kenya and Zambia through holistic education and leadership platforms. Volunteering with this nonprofit has opened my eyes to a global perspective and has helped me become a better advocate and ally with survivors.” — Jen Ng, Marketing Specialist
- “For a few years now, I have been volunteering as a driver with the Chico Food Project, picking up donations from participating households. It is a gratifyingly hands-on way to reduce food insecurity in my community, and I’m always amazed at the generosity of our donors. Weather permitting, I proudly wear my company sweatshirt on our route, representing both The Myers-Briggs Company and the B Corp movement.” — Emily Vanneman, Intellectual Property Agent
- “With so many families in our city having been financially impacted by the pandemic, I have been volunteering as part of one of the local church’s efforts to distribute food baskets to families in need. I’m glad to be part of providing well-needed necessities to families in our community.” — Andrei Anderson, Senior Project and Portfolio Manager
Opportunities to Give Time or Money, IRL or Virtually
Ad Victoriam Solutions, a Georgia-based B Corp that provides Salesforce and data consulting, has shifted to outdoor volunteer opportunities that allow employees to be masked and distanced. Employees helped at an urban farm, and in the spring can join roadside cleanups.
Nathan Stuck of Ad Victoriam Solutions says the B Corp plans monthly themes for its volunteer opportunities to give employees new options. May will be virtual volunteer month, and he suggests using the VolunteerMatch site to find opportunities.
For employees who prefer to give money over time, the B Corp offers fundraisers throughout the year. “We raised $375 through Super Bowl Squares and another $300 through a Fantasy Bachelor league — think fantasy football, but for The Bachelor,” Stuck says. “We’ll also do Fantasy Football, a charity employee poker tournament, March Madness brackets, and a Thanksgiving/Holiday fundraiser with a company match.”
The Future of Work Is Now
The community of Certified B Corporations knows that profits don’t have to come at the expense of other stakeholders. Learn more in this downloadable report.
Preserving Our Essential Environment
Through its environmentally friendly body care products, All Good aims to prove that humans and nature can live in harmony. The B Corp expands on that commitment through practices that enhance the planet as well as people and profit, including several focused on community service.
All Good has reinforced its ties to the environment through its role for the last seven years as a sponsor and host of the Backcountry Film Festival (BCFF), which supports the nonprofit Winter Wildlands Alliance.
“The BCFF is a collection of films highlighting the beauty, wild spaces, and human-powered feats that make backcountry spaces so essential,” says Lindsey Bolton of All Good. “Through hosting we’ve been able to provide volunteer opportunities for the All Good team and raise money through ticket sales, raffle prizes, and auction items, for a local nonprofit organization, Outside Now, that provides nature connection programs for kids and teens.”
As a 1% for the Planet member, All Good also created an Employee Donation Fund that provides each of its 28 team members $100 for them to donate to a 1% for the Planet approved nonprofit of their choice — giving them a say in their company’s contributions.
Coastal Cleanups for the Community
At Hippie Snacks and parent company Left Coast Naturals, all employees receive three paid volunteer days a year. The British Columbia-based organization is proud of its many firsts that have changed the Canadian food landscape for the better: It’s the first distributor in North America to implement a formal non-GMO food policy, as well as being a founding Canadian B Corp.
The company organizes company volunteer days — such as trail or beach cleanups or food bank days — that everyone can join, or team members can choose their own volunteer options.
“Volunteering has always been an important part of my life and working for a B Corp like Left Coast Naturals means that I have been able to participate in so many impactful events while working for them,” says Shelagh Kathleen, Marketing Specialist. “This includes repacking food for those in need at Quest Food Exchange, doing team shoreline cleanups or other community events.”
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