March 17, 2009

Putting Employees to Work

Ever since Google.Org announced its reorganization last month, I've been thinking about the types of resources that companies give away. Basically, companies mostly give away cash, products, or employee resources. Employee resources can be subdivided into time (labor) and talent (expertise). There are a few exceptions (including several detailed in this article that I wrote for onPhilanthropy a few years ago), but most corporate philanthropy (broadly defined) fits into these categories.

Google.Org, in the announcement cited above, suggested that, while it has been pleased with its efforts to support its philanthropic goals via cash donations, it has had the biggest impact when it has donated employee talent. As such, it plans to increase its focus on delivering impact via "engineers and technical talent".

This got me thinking about other companies that really get behind employee engagement as a key part of their philanthropic strategies. Of course, most companies (at least large ones) have volunteerism programs and most make at least some cash donations. However, which companies seek to make a social impact primarily via their employees' skills? What have been the results of these programs?

Thanks so much for your insights!


  1. Jessica,

    That's one area we hope to track on Zoosa ( when we launch in a few weeks. I think it would be great to have a central location where companies can showcase the impact of their employees who volunteer. Stay tuned!


  2. Elisabeth AndersonMarch 18, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    There are numerous examples, but one of my all-time favorites (and only partly because I've had the chance to work with them!) is The McGraw-Hill Companies. Their Writers to the Rescue Program is the gold standard of skills-based volunteerism. The company's cadre of expert writers, editors, and general communicators put their talents to work by helping nonprofits shape their promotional materials, website content, annual reports, edit grant applications, etc. The company won TapRoot's 2006 Pro Bono Award for this, and the overall employee volunteer program was recognized by Points of Light as a Corporate Engagement Award for Excellence winner in 2007.