Corporate Volunteering: More Essential Than Ever

By Martina Mansell

Communications & Community Relations Specialist, Comoto Holdings, Inc.

Corporate Volunteering is more important now than ever.

This year, as the coronavirus infection rate climbed and the PHL COVID-19 Fund raised millions of dollars to fight it, the region’s nonprofits saw volunteer participation drop sharply, even as they saw the need for their services increase. As a community, we heeded the call to stay home and flatten the curve, and that hurt a lot of corporate volunteer programs. How could we — in the same breath — tell people to work from home to avoid infection and ask them to go out and risk infection by volunteering in person? We at the GPCVC have always known that our employee volunteers are important to the communities where they live and work, but 2020 has highlighted the integral role volunteers can play in a region’s crisis response and recovery.

Martina Mansell (center with RevZilla T-Shirt) volunteering with New Leash On Life-USA

As we have shifted our corporate volunteer programs to virtual and socially-distant opportunities, we’ve spent time lamenting the albeit necessary changes, brainstorming new paths of engagement and reminiscing about volunteer events of years past. This summer the GPCVC changed our original programming aimed at corporate volunteerism professionals into listening sessions in which we invited nonprofits to speak to us about their challenges and COVID-19 responses.

The result: We learned how to be better partners to the nonprofits we work with. We know that this unexpected shift to digital and volunteer-from-home activities comes with a silver lining: creativity, innovation and inclusivity all flourish when we come face-to-face with a reality where the status quo is no longer practicable. One such example: as GPCVC member companies shifted to virtual volunteering, the Philadelphia Foundation’s Key Skills Hub proved invaluable. Between March and September of 2020, over 130 nonprofits benefited from over 6,700 volunteer hours, receiving more than $1.3 million in pro bono services.

This brings me to reflect on the amazing nominees our member companies submitted for the GPCVC’s inaugural Distinguished Corporate Volunteer Award. Seven extraordinary nominees collectively contributed over 6,200 hours (that’s 258 days, or about eight and a half months) of volunteer service totaling over $700,000 in fundraising and pro bono donations throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Seven people. It is humbling to know that these unassuming giants of humanity live and work next to us.

It was an incredibly difficult task for our Steering Team (minus those who recused themselves because they had nominated a colleague) to quantify and rank the importance and impact of each nominee’s volunteer service resume. The top three were chosen based on the rubric provided by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. They are: Jay Chen (Comcast), Andy Boczkowski (GSK) and Deanne Riley-Giddins (IBC). It is an honor to be able to showcase these example-setting leaders and to recognize them in conjunction with the Philadelphia Foundation and the City of Philadelphia.

The GPCVC elevates corporate volunteer service in the region by convening a community of corporate volunteerism professionals who share best practices, expand their professional networks and enhance the relationships between employees and their communities. These amazing winners are representative of the thousands of employee volunteers across the region who take their corporate volunteer programs and show us just how meaningful they can be.

The GPCVC is thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteering in recognizing a few of the amazing employee volunteers in the region who have committed extraordinary amounts of time, energy, and compassion in service to others.

Martina Mansell has been at Comoto since May 2014. She has been Co-Chair of the GPCVC since June 2019. Comoto has been a member of the GPCVC since 2016.