The Collective Power of Generosity

give a gift that counts

Pay it forward. It’s a simple idea: You may be just one person in this world, but to one person, at one time, you are the world. Imagine if we each looked for an opportunity to help others each day. Imagine the difference that would make.

During the holiday season it’s very easy to imagine and make happen. We deliberately take time to be thankful for what we have and to help others who are less fortunate.

Giving is not just an individual act of generosity it’s also a collective force of kindness in our communities and in the workplace. Providing opportunities for employees to give back is, in fact, a significant contributor to employee engagement, satisfaction and retention. But it’s not always an easy path to navigate.

There are, however, a number of ways to help ensure that workplace giving is productive, powerful and satisfying for employees and the company they work for. One of my favorite articles about giving back to the community is Forbes Making It Big – Giving It Big: The Titans of Philanthropy.

Insights from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and Steve Case made a strong impression. I encourage you to read it. It may motivate you to rethink how you and your organization give back to the community, and the role of volunteering and philanthropic giving in employee engagement.

The Forbes articles demonstrates the need and power of ‘giving’ in the larger scheme of things. It helps us to think globally while acting locally. Katherine Fulton, President of Monitor Institute, brings it even closer to home in her TED Talk, You are the Future of Philanthropy, by speaking about “the democratization of philanthropy: where collaboration and innovation allow regular people to do big things, even when money is scarce.”

While I have not yet been invited to TED and share “ideas worth spreading,” I can share my experience working with clients to design and deploy programs that engage employees while giving back.

So, what I have learned? Over the years, I’ve identified three common themes that successfully link company giving programs to increased levels of employee engagement:

1. Ask, Listen and Learn: Your employees want to give back to the community – and they want their companies to do the same. In fact, 81% of employees want their company to offer matching support programs for non-profit charitable organizations, whether locally or on a larger scale, and to provide opportunities to volunteer during work hours (Cone Cause Evolution Study and Workplace Giving Works! Make It Work For You).

2. Connect Your People With Their Passion: Many companies offer one or very limited options for volunteering their time, financial resources and receiving matching contributions. The result is low participation in volunteer activities and, in many cases, dissatisfaction with their employers. Companies that truly invite their employees to align their time and financial resources to causes that have personal meaning have higher participation rates in fund-raising and volunteer activities than those that don’t. Matching contributions to causes that employees choose themselves (that fall within company guidelines and approval processes) are the most meaningful and contribute to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. For more information, visit Volunteer Match.

3. Use Giving Back as Opportunities to Re-Connect and Re-Energize Your Teams: America’s Charities is another way to connect your employees with opportunities to give back. Whether it’s working together with Habitat For Humanity, running in The Race for the Cure, collaborating with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help children in need, or partnering with the The Clinton Foundation to bring health services to communities decimated by HIV/ADS around the world, the opportunities – the need – to help and give back to our communities are endless.

Oprah Winfrey once said: “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house what do you take? You can’t take a candle.”

Giving is personal. The logical next step is to make it personal to you…and the company you call home.

Until next time,

Connect, Collaborate and Create! ®

Ryan

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www.connectcollaboratecreate.com

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Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

RyanALS2014

Opportunities often come to us disguised as challenges.

We may not find them, much less look for them, because the pain we feel in the moment prevents us from seeing them. I know from experience. I’m guessing you do too.

I recently wrote an article Giving In the Workplace: Make It Work For Everyone. It focuses on the power of ‘giving’ and the role it plays in attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. It’s no secret that Americans are among the most charitable people in the world. We want to help…especially when we’re faced with a challenge!

So, like many of you, I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I accepted the challenge to use my voice as one way to contribute to the fight against ALS and support those living with the disease. I also had an even more personal reason: to recognize the amazing work my friend Kathy Bagby has done to raise ALS awareness in memory of her father Dennis Peiffer and others lost to the disease.

We’re making progress in the fight against ALS, but there’s still much work to be done:

  • ALS can strike anyone and knows no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year and it’s estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may be living with the disease at any given time.
  • The onset of ALS is insidious with early symptoms including muscle weakness and stiffness. As the disease progresses, ALS causes weakness, wasting and paralysis of the muscles and limbs, along with those muscles that control vital functions such as speech, swallowing and breathing.
  • Although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, the disease is variable and many people live a full life for five years or more.
  • There can be significant costs for medical care, equipment and home healthcare. It’s important to understand the details of your insurance plan as well as other programs including SSA, Medicare and Veteran Affairs benefits that may help defer costs related to treatment and care.

ALS is a disease that we can defeat if we all work together. Take a few minutes to learn more about people living with ALS. As one man put it, “I’ve made ALS part of my life…not my whole life.”

So, how can you help? ALS is just one of the challenges so many of us face. The opportunities – the need – to help and give back to our communities are endless. Here are just a few: The Walk to Defeat ALS, Habitat For Humanity, The Race for the Cure, The Hospice Foundation and The Clinton Foundation to End HIV/AIDS. For more information on other ways to give back, visit Volunteer Match.

Oprah Winfrey once said: “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house, what do you take? You can’t take a candle.”

Giving is personal. Find your passion. Accept the challenge. Make it happen. It’s your opportunity to make a difference in the life of one person…or millions!

Until next time,

Connect, Collaborate and Create! ®

Ryan

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www.connectcollaboratecreate.com

‘Tis the Season For Giving…and Re-Energizing Your Employees

Now that Halloween is over, it’s official:  the holiday season has begun, complete with the on-set of colorful lights, the whimsy of holiday music and the guilty pleasure of gingerbread latte.  Beyond the music, treats and holiday celebrations, it’s the overwhelming gratitude and giving that always catches my attention.

My early holiday gift last year was the October 8, 2012 issue Forbes Making It Big – Giving It Big: The Titans of Philanthropy.  The insights from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and Steve Case will give you pause – and the motivation to re-think how you and your company give back to the community and the role of philanthropic giving in employee engagement.

There are multiple aspects of employee acquisition and engagement that best-in-class companies use to acquire and retain the best and brightest:  competitive pay, telecommuting, excellent health benefits, and on-site amenities such as child-care, catered lunches, banking, dry cleaning, and gyms, to name a few.  An often overlooked aspect of the employee proposition (why the best come to you and why they stay) involves what and how your company gives back to the community and those in need.

Over the years, I’ve bench-marked, interviewed and met with leaders across industries and here are three common themes that successfully link company giving programs to increased levels of employee engagement.

  • Ask, Listen and Learn:  Your employees want to give back to the community – and they want their company to do the same.  In fact, 81% of employees want their company to offer matching support programs for non-profit charitable organizations, whether locally or on a larger scale (source: 2011 Cone Cause Evolution Study, and The 2010 Report:  “Workplace Giving Works:  Make It Work For You”).
  • Connect Your People With Their Passion: Many companies offer one or very limited options for volunteering their time, financial resources and receiving matching contributions.  The result is low participation in volunteer activities and, in many cases, dissatisfaction with their employers.  Companies that truly invite their employees to align their time and financial resources to causes that have personal meaning have higher participation rates in fund-raising and volunteer activities than those that don’t. Matching contributions to causes that employees choose themselves (that fall within company guidelines and approval processes) are the most meaningful and contribute to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement.  For more information, visit Volunteer Match.
  • Use Giving Back as Opportunities to Re-Connect and Re-Energize Your Teams: Whether it’s working together with Habitat For Humanity, walking or running in The Race for the Cure, volunteering to help individuals and families coping with terminal illness through The Hospice Foundation or by partnering with the The Clinton Foundation to bring health services to communities decimated by HIV/ADS around the world, the opportunities – the need – to help and give back to our communities are endless.

During this season of giving and gratitude, it’s easy to overlook what’s right in front of us:  that Americans, even in the most challenging of times, are also the most giving people in the world.

Oprah Winfrey once said:  “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house, what do you take? You can’t take a candle.”  Giving is personal.  The logical next step is to make it personal to you – and the company you call home.

Until next time:  connect, collaborate and create!

Ryan

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Diversity and Inclusion: World AIDS Day 2012

“We ALL are living with AIDS…”

This sentiment shared by award winning actress Judith Light has always been my introduction to the topic of HIV/AIDS.  To many, it may seem that AIDS is a distant disease, impacting people very different than you and in places far, far away.  Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS is still here.  We all are, in fact, living with this disease.

The mission of Word AIDS Day 2012 is “Getting to Zero.”  We are making progress, but HIV/AIDS is still a critical health crises AND relevant to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  It’s highly likely that a family member, friend or workplace colleague regardless of gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, is infected with HIV and possibly living with AIDS.

My work with HIV/AIDS began with the AIDS Walk, The AIDS Ride, and as the employee educator of the Viacom/MVT Networks “Know HIV/AIDS” campaign. Working with partners across the cable, healthcare, and non-profit industries I had the privilege to work with many celebrity AIDS ambassadors including Common and Ashley Judd.

YOU  too can make a difference.  It’s  been my work in the community that has made the biggest impact on my life and and on others.  All of us, through our personal actions and collaboration can make an impact:  by knowing the facts, acting in support of those living with HIV/AIDS, and volunteering your time and helping to educate others.

Those most at risk are, in fact, the core of our workforce:  young people under the age of  24.  Diversity and inclusion is not just about gender, race, veteran status, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or economic status.  It also includes compassion and support related to personal health, including HIV/AIDS.

Please join me in remembering those lost to this disease.  Work with me and others to support those living with HIV/AIDS, and working to prevent new HIV infections.

After all, we all are living with AIDS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  http://aids.gov/index.htm

Until next time:  connect, collaborate and create.

The Connector,

Ryan

KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT HIV/AIDS:

In 2011:

  • 34 million [31.4 million – 35.9 million] people globally were living with HIV
  • 2.5 million [2.2 million – 2.8 million] people became newly infected with HIV
  • 1.7 million [1.5 million – 1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses
  • There are approximately 3-4 million AIDS “orphans” living in Africa – both parents lost to AIDS

-Declining new HIV infections in children:  The area where perhaps most progress is being made is in reducing new HIV infections in children. Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children.

-Fewer AIDS-related deaths:  Anti-retroviral therapy has emerged as a powerful force for saving lives. In the last 24 months the number of people accessing treatment has increased by 63% globally.

-More investments:  Countries are increasing investments in the AIDS response despite a difficult economic climate. The global gap in resources needed annually by 2015 is now at 30%. In 2011, US$ 16.8 billion was available and the need for 2015 is between US$ 22-24 billion.

World AIDS Day 2012