This is the third in a six part series on building better employee volunteer programs, presented by MicroEdge, the leading provider of software and services to the giving community worldwide. Follow the rest of the series here.
How a single-sign-on volunteer tracking program and other simple measures led to almost 20 times growth in volunteerism in only two years.
Kicking off a true volunteer program at Land O’Lakes
Land O’Lakes is one of America’s premier member-owned cooperatives, delivering an extensive line of supplies as well as state-of-the-art production and business services to agricultural producers. A leading marketer of dairy-based food products, the company is now the second-largest cooperative in the nation with approximately 9,000 employees, 3,200 direct producer-members and 1,000 member-cooperatives serving more than 300,000 agricultural producers.
Long committed to social responsibility, a key component of Land O’Lakes’ vision has always been to take a leadership role in the community. However, in 2003, Dollars for Doers was their only organized giving event. To move the company forward in this leadership effort, the acting CEO set a goal for greater volunteerism and encouraged more participation throughout the company. In order to jumpstart this initiative, the company kicked off a United Way Campaign with the goal of enrolling 400 volunteers.
With this objective in mind, the company’s Community Relations team realized they would need to reconsider their standard methods for signing up employees, such as hanging sign-up sheets in cafeterias. They needed a more advanced mechanism for employees to register for events and log their hours. The company began searching for a solution to help drive volunteerism locally and across the company.
Debbie Prince, Volunteer Manager, was charged with the task. She chose Microedge’s AngelPoints to manage the initiative. The entire process took less than eight weeks and the solution was in place in time to manage the United Way volunteer campaign.
What’s next? Methods for achieving consistent growth in employee involvement
After Land O’Lakes implemented the AngelPoints platform, they realized the true growth potential of their volunteering program was yet to come. They increased corporate support for company-wide volunteering events and took steps to facilitate employees’ ongoing independent volunteer efforts. The company also made a special point to use several features within AngelPoints Volunteering, such as recurring events, board participation and activity shifts.
After connecting with employees to learn about their experiences, Prince learned that she had the power to further increase levels of employee involvement – the key was in making it as easy as possible for employees to learn about and sign up for events.
For instance, employees complained that remembering login passwords was a major barrier to participation. Team members indicated that while they were interested in using AngelPoints, they had too many passwords to keep track of – and adding one more for AngelPoints felt prohibitive. AngelPoints offered an easy fix – Single Sign On (SSO) – that would give employees access to the AngelPoints platform directly from the Land O’Lakes company intranet without requiring an additional sign-on. By removing the log-in screen, they could easily access what was needed with just one click: registering for all of the events, logging volunteer hours and viewing their progress against their goals.
On top of SSO, Debbie altered her outreach approach to make accessing specific event sites simple and quick. She provided direct links to the event, instead of having employees navigate through the site on their own. This ease-of-use encouraged employees to sign up for events upon receipt of the email announcement. Follow-up email reminders ensured that interested employees kept the event top of mind. And the ability to bring family and friends along to most events was an added bonus for many employees.
Once Prince’s team spread the word about SSO and further simplified the sign-up process, there was a dramatic increase in volunteerism. Employees began signing up for events and reporting their volunteer hours regularly – without being asked. By allowing employees to simply click to register for events and log their hours instead of having to remember another password, the corporate culture shifted; employees were now embracing volunteerism, and associating it with Land O’Lakes’ company culture.
With the streamlined efficiency of the system, volunteerism efforts at Land O’Lakes took on a life of their own.
The results: A dramatic increase in volunteer hours
The implementation of SSO and change in outreach approach yielded instant results. Reported employee volunteer hours shot up dramatically – from 1,609 in 2008 to 31,452 in 2011.
The Community Relations team is now a much more efficient and effective organization, running numerous events throughout the year, including company-wide events such as Kick Hunger Day, quarterly blood drives, Minnesota Food Share, the United Way campaign, as well as sixty smaller team projects.
Whereas blood drives were previously an administrative nightmare, scheduled and managed through Excel and paper sign-up sheets, Prince is now able to get the word out through a single email, generating more than enough interest to fill the events.
And at Kick Hunger Day, an event run in conjunction with Cargill and General Mills every January at the Mall of America, Land O’Lakes has been able to get anywhere from thirty to sixty volunteers on board. And that’s with an early morning start time of 4:30am!
Sharing results keeps the ball rolling
Reporting on results is important when it comes to keeping employees involved – and obtaining buy-in from the board. Statistics such as number of volunteers, hours of community service, number of community partners and number of projects are available on the AngelPoints dashboard for all employees to see. This information is used to report the progress the company is making to senior leaders and the board.
Top brass at the organization could not be happier with the results, and have been excited to generate their CSR report and annual report for the past few years. They know that they are having a positive impact on the community – and fortifying their brand in the process. And employee morale is at an all-time high. Combine that with the fact that the community is receiving more support from Land O’ Lakes than ever before, and it’s plain to see that everyone is coming away a winner!
Established in 1985, MicroEdge, LLC is the leading provider of software and services to the giving community worldwide. MicroEdge solutions deliver a powerful, integrated, and open framework for efficient and effective charitable giving. The company is committed to providing the best technology toolset for foundations, corporations, government agencies, donors, advisors and financial institutions. Together, these tools help organizations to work with one another to raise, invest, manage and award charitable currency.