How does a culture of giving back strengthen our work and mission?

Ever been torn between wanting to volunteer for a great cause and having to clock in for your 9 to 5? Foundation Center has always placed high value on a good employee benefit package, from a generous leave policy to contributing to retirement accounts without requiring employee contributions. This year, we made it easier for our employees to give back to their communities by adding a new benefit: a paid day of volunteer time off.

Inspired by our colleagues who were already dedicating many hours to volunteering each year, our human resources team wanted to make it more accessible for all employees to be able to use their time and talents to give back. We’re thrilled to report that the new policy went into effect in October 2017, resulting in nearly 80 hours of service by our staff supporting important causes before the end of the year. Their contributions ranged from working at a soup kitchen to developing a social media strategy for a local nonprofit.

Nick Opinsky, development specialist, shares, “Foundation Center’s volunteer time off policy allowed me to give back to the urban sustainability nonprofit I used to work for by helping them during their annual gala. It was really special to have the opportunity to promote a cause I’m passionate about and support my former colleagues, whilst being recognized by my new organization.”

A volunteer time off policy not only encourages staff to further causes that they care about, but also creates an opportunity for them to work together in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t have and build relationships with their colleagues from across departments. Seven of our staff members did just that when they volunteered for 48in48’s 2017 New York City Hackathon as Team Foundation Center.

There were a number of corporate volunteer teams but Team Foundation Center was one of only three nonprofit teams volunteering!

48in48 is a nonprofit that brings together volunteers to build 48 websites for 48 local nonprofits in 48 hours. Team Foundation Center consisted of staff from across Social Sector Outreach, Knowledge Services, Financial Strategy, Data and Technology, and Development. Building websites requires a lot of minds: creative thinkers to help with design and layout, tech savvy web developers to produce the wireframes and build the core of the site, content managers to ensure the content is accurate and conveys the message of each nonprofit, project managers to make sure everything runs smoothly, and general volunteers to help with everything in between. With a tight deadline looming, and lots of work still to be done, team members trained one another in skills such as photo editing and web design to get us to the finish line in time.

Learn more about 48in48 >

The skills, relationships, and user-centered perspective Team Foundation Center and staff who participated in other volunteer activities gained during their volunteer time has come full circle. It brought new ideas and energy into their projects back at the office and enabled them to use their diverse skills to help local nonprofits thrive. Shares Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement,

“We keep uncovering new layers of perspective and insight from staff who participated in 48in48 and other volunteer efforts. Their experiences build Foundation Center’s expertise, and encourage leadership on projects and in conversation with our audiences.”

Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement