This month True Impact welcomed a new account director to our team. Susan Pollara formerly managed the corporate volunteer product for the JK Group as director of volunteer and community programs. In that role, she provided strategic direction to her Fortune 500 clients to improve participation rates, programs, and communication strategies for their employee volunteer programs.
We asked her a few questions about improving employee volunteer programs, the necessity of measuring community work, and her passion for saving the world.
What excites you most about joining the True Impact team?
I often joke that my career goal has been to save the world, or to help others do the saving. I also love to provide solutions for people’s challenges. Joining True Impact satisfies both. It’s a huge challenge for corporations to measure the impact of their CSR programs. Our tools and services simplify the process to prove the value and impact of CSR programs – so True Impact is solving a problem for our clients. Our tools give really concrete and measurable ways to improve programs, which result in more world-saving.
You've guided employee volunteer managers and programs for nearly 8 years. What advice can you give to managers who want to improve the value of employee volunteerism?
Start small. Don’t try to do everything at once. Make it authentic. For example, if you measure the impact of your programs and identify areas across the spectrum (social to financial) and across constituents (employees, beneficiaries) and find four areas you’d like to improve – pick one or two. Then, find authentic ways to move the dial on those two areas. Tweak and refine. Then measure again. Then refine and see how you can replicate the successes to grow the value in other areas.
We know that volunteerism, pro bono, and board service provide nonprofits essential resources to reach their mission. What's the point of measuring employee volunteerism when it's all 'good work'?
Because, frankly, it could be “better work.” Sometimes employee volunteerism gets a free pass because it’s all “good” work, or because companies don’t think volunteerism affects the bottom line. The fact that the Volunteerism ROI Tracker results are so varied is proof that some volunteerism generates more value, and that everyone could be doing better work - for their employees, customers, and communities.
What are the biggest obstacles for private companies working for the public good? How can they overcome those challenges?
Private companies still need to worry about the bottom line. Often, CSR programs are the first to lose resources when times get tough for a private company. By having hard data to show that volunteer programs are having a positive impact on a company’s bottom line, a CSR manager can help solidify program resources.
I also think that today’s employees are quite stretched. Between work responsibilities and juggling work/life balance, employees are under a great deal of pressure. Asking employees to exceed in their jobs, as well as fully participate in a CSR program, can be a lot. That’s why making sure a CSR program is meaningful for the employees as well as impactful on the community and the corporation are key ingredients for success.
To hear more about our ROI Tracker offerings, get in touch.