Win-Win-Win Employee Volunteerism

By Brielle Nalence and Lia Jones, Capital One

At the start of 2016, part of the Capital One Community Affairs associate engagement team was faced with a few challenging questions: How can we best utilize our associates’ skills and passion for volunteering, and encourage them to support the company’s philanthropic partners? How can we meet the needs of our nonprofit partners, a majority of whom are in the workforce development space, and want more interaction between our company and their clients? Finally, how can we create more ways for our associates to support the company's volunteer and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) goals, that doesn’t involve leaving the office?

Looking to create a win-win-win, our team evaluated our current resources, feedback we had received from associates regarding volunteerism, feedback from our nonprofit partners, and input from some of our senior leaders. These empathy efforts led to the design and launch of Capital One’s Future Edge @Lunch series - a bite-sized workforce development event wherein the clients (or students) of our nonprofit partners come to our offices for a two-hour session over lunch. This session includes a speed networking activity for clients to meet with Capital One associates, a financial education workshop that is tailored to what that group is most interested in learning, as well as head shots for any interested attendee. Other iterations of the event also included a session for resume reviews, using LinkedIn for job searches, and mock interviews. The event also includes a pre-event training for all Capital One associates, wherein they are introduced to the nonprofit partner to learn more about the specific clients they will be interacting with, as well as an overview of best practices for networking and workshop facilitation.

Recognizing that our Community Affairs team is an expert in many areas (but not all!), we made sure to include our business partners in the program planning and implementation. For example, we included leaders from our Human Resources line of business to facilitate the portions of the event involving resume and interview instruction, while we included leaders from our Retail line of business to facilitate the financial education workshops. Including these other lines of business also helped ensure that the Capital One volunteers in the room were diverse in background and skill set.

Hosting this event on-site and including associates from various lines of business and levels in the room also created a space for associates to learn more about our Community Affairs team and philanthropic strategy, and for our team to interact with those who may not regularly seek out company-sponsored volunteer events. The event series also created an opportunity for associates to learn more about our nonprofit partners, and to identify other ways they could personally or professionally work with these partners. For example, one HR professional discussed wanting to include some of the clients she met in her current recruitment process, while another professional from the Commercial line of business planned to reach out after the event to a young person he met whom he thought he may be able to mentor.
“I believe that Capital One has a responsibility to share its talents and resources with those in the local communities we serve, particularly those who have faced challenges in life. The Future Edge @ Lunch event was an opportunity for Capital One associates to give back to the Washington DC community by offering insights and career advice to ambitious and talented participants in the Year Up and Per Scholas program. I was impressed and inspired by the many Year Up and Per Scholas participants I interacted with and look forward to continuing the mentoring relationships I made as a result of the event.” Vice President, Capital One
“One of our clients was really excited to go home and work on her personal budget. Another client said, ‘It was cool to hear from professionals who had different career paths and maybe I could have a good career path like that one day.’ And another client said, ‘It was really nice for these people to take time out of their day to spend with us and talk to us about networking and answer our questions.’ We appreciate all the staff who volunteered their time to this opportunity.” Staff member, Capital One grantee
As we look to 2019, our team is now strategizing which volunteer and nonprofit engagements to prioritize for the new year. Future Edge @Lunch has risen to the top of our list as the event series has achieved the win-win-win we originally set out for. However, it required continuous testing and learning - a process that will continue through the new year and beyond. It is possible to create a win-win-win engagement opportunity for your associates and nonprofit partners. These steps are key to doing so:

1. Consider the needs and interests of your associates, nonprofit partners, business and senior leaders, and philanthropic strategy

2. Evaluate the commonalities between these stakeholder groups, your resources, and determine what you are best positioned to help facilitate

3. Include other stakeholders in the planning and implementation process

4. Launch a single pilot activity, solicit feedback, and make adjustments for your next pilot event

5. Continue to test and learn, and to adapt to the changing needs and interests of your stakeholders