Continue the Learning: Business with Purpose Themes from the 2020 Points of Light Conference Online Experience

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There is a great energy, a spirit of optimism and a sense of renewal when thousands of people convene with the same purpose. During the Points of Light Conference, leaders from the corporate and social sectors gathered for fellowship, education and inspiration. Although, this year, we “gathered” around our computers for the first ever online experience.

Business with Purpose workshops, designed specifically for professionals responsible for engaging their fellow employees in their communities, explored how companies are leading with their values and collaborating with nonprofits and other stakeholders to bring their resources, time, talent and voice to bear to be a powerful force for good – especially now.

Four themes emerged throughout the three-days of learning:

1) Going Digital. Due to COVID-19, many leaders are quickly adopting digital solutions for their employee engagement needs. With more employees working remotely, virtual volunteering becomes a way to continue their involvement in social issues. However, all nonprofits are ready to accept virtual volunteers and provide them a meaningful experience.

Virtual volunteering may also be harder to track, which can impact your ability to report results to leadership. No matter how you’re engaging employees in their communities at this time, a digital platform that helps you manage, communicate and track results is a cornerstone of a successful social impact strategy.

2) Setting Strategic Intentions. Several workshops elevated the need to be planful with your engagement programs. Whether they provided a straight-forward framework to follow or showcased the intentional planning that goes into programs once strategy is developed, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of a company’s journey from “scatter-shot to strategic.”

Two workshops flipped the strategy conversation on its head and demonstrated how employee volunteer engagement can be used as a strategy itself to bring together disparate corporate cultures and ensure the well-being of your workforce. All very important proof points to share with company leadership as they look for solutions to these internal challenges or when you are advocating for more resources.

3) Uplifting Cross-sector Collaboration. Without strong collaboration, your giving and volunteering efforts may not elicit shared value. We heard from two organizations that have built deeply aligned partnerships for program design and delivery while working to solve complex global challenges.

It is, in fact, these strong collaborations that have enabled many organizations to pivot during the pandemic. Starting from a place of shared understanding while also acknowledging and appreciating similarities and differences will feed collaboration and ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

4) Leading Through Crisis: Unprecedented times bring unprecedented opportunities. In a world facing natural and human-made disasters to the current health and social justice crises, how should a company respond? How can they balance their annual commitments with pressing community needs as they spontaneously arise? And, how can they support the increase in employee activism and shift in consumer expectations due to these crises?

It’s imperative for businesses to plan for the unexpected. Workshops provided tips that resonate broadly no matter the type of crisis you might face such as leaving some room in your budget for emergencies, tapping into partners’ expertise, refraining from knee-jerk reactions and diverting all resources to one need, and having a ready of inventory of upcoming priorities so you can quickly make decisions. And, of course, communicating transparently and acting authentically are true when balancing emergent needs and when those needs give rise to powerful voices internal and external to your company.

We invite you to check out recordings from all of our 2020 Business with Purpose workshops and connect to research, learn frameworks, and discover new ideas to inspire and renew your efforts to accelerate the impact of your company’s social impact strategy. These recordings are available on Points of Light’s newest digital platform, the Community for Employee Civic Engagement. Through CECE, you’ll be able to ask questions and get answers from experts, as well as stay up to date with the latest industry news and explore ideas central to maximizing the impact of corporate social responsibility.

For unlimited access to everything CECE has to offer, sign up for a complimentary 14-day trial.

Katy Elder

Vice President, Business Innovation, Points of Light

A member of the Points of Light team since November 2012, Katy serves as Vice President, Business Innovation. She brings with her nearly 20 years of experience in employee volunteerism, community affairs and internal communications. After leading Points of Light’s corporate consulting practice for six years, she is now responsible for developing content and innovative learning opportunities to advance the corporate citizenship sector.
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