C.H. Robinson Honored for Workplace Giving

April 7, 2014

chEarlier this month, MCF member C.H. Robinson received the Community Impact Award in the Workplace Giving Campaign category from Minnesota Business magazine. The honor recognizes a successful volunteer or employee-giving campaign benefiting any non-profit or other worthy organization.

This is the second year in a row that Minnesota Business has recognized C.H. Robinson in the Workplace Giving Campaign category in recognition of various employee volunteer campaigns that the company facilitates. This year, C.H. Robinson was presented the award for the company’s 14 years of support and dedication to the MinnDakotas chapter of JDRF, the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes research.

Each year, C.H. Robinson’s employees gather at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN to participate in the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes. What began as a small group of employees who participated in the Walk in 2001, has now grown to 645 Team Robinson walkers who participated in this year’s walk.

“We are proud of the work our employees do to make C.H. Robinson a great company,” said Angie Freeman, vice president of human resources at C.H. Robinson. “Awards like this are a reminder that giving back is embedded in our company culture and that the same ingenuity and hard work that help us succeed as a company, also help make our communities better places to live and work.”

Learn More About Corporate Giving

Corporate giving often extends beyond giving grants. Noncash charitable contributions include employee volunteer time such as this and donated goods and services. To learn more about Minnesota’s corporate giving landscape, see our January blog post, and our Giving in Minnesota and Grantmaker Rankings research.

Congratulations to C.H. Robinson!


Young or Old, Mentoring Matters

January 28, 2014

mentoringworks_logoSometimes a little moral support can make all the difference.

January is National Mentoring Month. And evidence shows that mentoring is definitely worth celebrating and promoting.

No matter your age or your goals, support from others can help you overcome barriers to success, navigate unfamiliar cultures, and reach new heights.

Many examples of mentoring’s power have popped up in my reading this month. They’ve run the gamut – from reduction in juvenile crime for at-risk youth in national mentoring programs, to greater interest and confidence among mentored girls and young women pursuing STEM studies and careers, to patients having greater success controlling their diabetes when paired with a peer mentor than when taking medication.

Career Growth in Philanthropy
Of course, social support is important at work, too. Local peer networks are popular resources for MCF members. And national networks and affinity groups are valuable repositories of information for professional development and job effectiveness.

MCF has even launched its own version of a mentoring program. Four inaugural MCF Philanthropy Fellows have joined the Bush Foundation to grow professionally and infuse new ideas and energy into the sector.  Read about the MCF Philanthropy Fellows in our Philanthropy Potluck Blog post, and while you’re at it, check out our announcement about EPIP’s new Leadership Institute.

Mentoring in Minnesota
While Minnesota grantmakers are building their own skills, they’re also providing financial support to local, national and global mentoring programs. Not surprisingly, 86 percent of our state’s grant dollars dedicated to mentoring benefit children and youth, according to MCF’s latest Giving in Minnesota research.

Leading Minnesota funders for youth development mentoring include: Federated Insurance Foundation; Greater Twin Cities United Way; Carlson Family Foundation; Cargill Foundation and Cargill, Inc.; and Otto Bremer Foundation. The McKnight Foundation has also been a major youth development grantmaker and was instrumental in founding Youthprise.

According to MCF research, leading nonprofit recipients of private, community/public and corporate grants include: Big Brothers/Big Sisters in St. Paul and throughout the state; Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM); Bolder Options and BestPrep.

Last year MPM honored the Carlson Family Foundation with the Bob Dayton Quality Mentoring Award as a leading investor and champion for high-quality youth mentoring – long-term, trusting relationships between children and caring adults.

According to MPM:

Mentoring is an active ingredient in helping young people perform better in school, develop aspirations to go to college and choose a career, make responsible decisions, model good behavior, and become more productive and engaged citizens – all key factors in building stronger communities.

Join the Conversation
Check out the National Mentoring Month resources and let us know what resonates with you. What positive outcomes have you experienced as a mentee or mentor? What mentoring programs do you know of that are achieving exceptional results for individuals of varying ages?

- Wendy Wehr, MCF v.p. of communications and information services


Blue Cross Aligns for Better Health

September 6, 2013
Here, Blue Cross employees volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, just one way they help in the community.

Blue Cross employees volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, just one way they help in the community.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has adopted a cohesive strategy that addresses individual and community health issues across a wide spectrum.

The organization’s foundation, community relations department and the Center for Prevention each play a unique role.  Together, they align to help Blue Cross “make a healthy difference in people’s lives.”

In MCF’s summer issue of Giving Forum on corporate philanthropy, read more about: how the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation focuses on social and economic determinants of health; how its Center for Prevention addresses root causes of disease; and how the company’s community relations department spearheads food drives, blood drives and much more.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Corporate Volunteers = Community and Corporate Assets

August 13, 2013
HBFullerWillow Lake Bridging (16)

During H.B. Fuller’s “Make a Difference” campaign, employee volunteers assemble dressers at Bridging.

The recent recession seems to have strengthened — rather than dampened — corporate volunteerism. And today, companies report a new employee energy around volunteering, including:

  • more creative initiatives that respond to the basic needs of vulnerable people,
  • an increased interest in putting professional skills to work at nonprofits and
  • a greater focus on strategic volunteering to leverage other corporate contributions.

Proving the return on investment of a business’s community relations activities and showing the many benefits of employee volunteer programs is critical to the success and continuation of the initiatives.

Read “Corporate Volunteers: Community and Corporate Assets” in the summer issue of Giving Forum to learn more about the positive returns  for all involved when corporate volunteers get involved in our communities.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Skills-based Volunteering Is on the Rise

July 30, 2013
ToroMN Zoo

This spring, corporate employees and equipment from The Toro Company helped the Minnesota Zoo prepare its new dinosaur exhibit.

Giving in Numbers: 2012 Edition says the three most successful employee-volunteer programs in 2011 were dollars for doers, company-wide day of service and paid-release time.

However, employers are also pursuing new ways to encourage employee volunteering, leading to a growth in pro bono or skills-based service hours, where employees use core job skills to help others.

Since 2001, Taproot Foundation has helped professionals — on an individual or corporate basis — put skills to work for nonprofits. Last week, Taproot Foundation and the national Foundation Center announced a partnership that seeks to expand knowledge-sharing resources and support for the nonprofit sector.

Don’t miss an upcoming local opportunity to learn more at Hands-On Twin Cities’ Skills-based Volunteering Summit on Thursday, August 8, at the Mall of America. The event brings together corporate partners with nonprofits, schools and government agencies for a day filled with learning and sharing of best practices. It’s a great opportunity for any nonprofit professional, board member, or volunteer!

Read more about how Minnesota’s corporate volunteers are helping build community in the summer issue of MCF’s Giving Forum. There you’ll find articles on unique collaborations and award-winning volunteer initiatives.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Employee Volunteers — Using Brains and Brawn

April 26, 2013

brainsThis week is National Volunteer Week, something many of you are already aware of. If you read my colleague’s post yesterday, you know Minnesota ranks #4 among the 50 states for volunteerism and the Twin Cities ranks #1 among the 51 largest metropolitan areas in the country.

As a past coordinator of large special events, I tend to think of volunteering in terms of brawn.

But during the last year, I’ve learned more about skills-based or pro-bono volunteering, which is primarily about brain. I’ve heard about some interesting ways that companies are encouraging their employees to share their time and their talents with nonprofits in the communities where they work. Here are just a few:

  • Employees from General Mills, Cargill and Supervalu packaged and distributed 600,000 lbs. of sweet corn to food shelves in 2012. This is produce that otherwise would’ve rotted in farm fields.
  • General Mills employees share expertise and technology with African farmers and food producers. Projects in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia link employees from research and development, nutrition, engineering, marketing, finance and beyond.
  • United Health Group uses online micro-volunteering to enable employees (22% of whom are telecommuters) to complete short volunteer assignments without leaving home. Nonprofits have entered 500 projects in an online database which employees can peruse and commit to completing. For example, an employee might offer to set up a spreadsheet or proof a brochure.
  • Employees at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota created a garden (PDF) where they grew and donated 1,350 lbs. of produce in 2012.
  • Xcel Energy’s employees provide energy-saving audits and programs for nonprofits, helping organizations stretch their budgets and be good stewards of resources.
  • U.S. Bank donated the time of one of its iPhone app designers to create an app for The Salvation Army to recruit bell ringers for one-hour slots at 400 kettles across the Twin Cities.

I know this is a short list of large companies located in the Twin Cities. I’d love to hear more about unique things your company — small or large, urban or rural — is doing to encourage employees to better the communities where we live and work.

The summer issue of Giving Forum will focus on corporate philanthropy, so please send story ideas and pictures!

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from many you!

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Image cc Hey Paul Studios


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