We gathered in a meeting room on the 41st floor of the Morgan Stanley building in Manhattan. Around us were a hundred representatives of Fortune 100 companies, collected here to fuel the momentum of a powerful service initiative called A Billion+Change.
Senator Mark Warner stepped to the podium.
We face some real challenges in this country, he said.
The government can't fix these problems.
Nonprofits can, if we help them build capacity.
Nonprofits are there, on the ground, in the right position to do it, he said.*
It was the opening to one of the most fascinating days of my career, spent in the company of corporate giants and nonprofit leaders with the desire (and position) to go about the business of changing the world. We spent the day talking about the ways these corporations—early pioneers in skills-based pro bono services—are creating global CSR programs, providing opportunities for employees to be engaged in them, developing systems for managing them, identifying meaningful ways to measure them, and more.
At the heart of it all is A Billion + Change, a movement that has already engaged nearly 100 companies with pledges that total $1.5 billion in skills-based pro bono service. It marks a sea change, really: corporations leveraging the talents of employees throughout an organization in service to nonprofits. And it's not just hands-on service. It's volunteer service based on the professional skills of the individual. By matching the workforce skills with the needs of these nonprofits, powerful connections are made.
Think what happens when UPS employees volunteer their expertise to improve the logistical challenge of getting supplies to a region ravaged by an earthquake. Or HP—the world's largest technology company— collaborates with a national educator's resource center to improve digital communication and distribution of materials.
It's a new way of thinking about corporate pro bono service that not only values but also encourages coordinated participation in socially responsible efforts, all on "company" time.
Riggs Partners is proud to be standing there alongside Starbucks, Target, Microsoft, Walmart, Kraft, Capital One, Deloitte, Dow Chemical, GE, IBM, Intel, PepsiCo, and more, as a founding pledge company in the A Billion+Change movement. In fact, our CreateAthon pro bono program, through which we develop branding and marketing materials for nonprofits during a 24-hour marathon, was showcased at the Billion + launch event in Washington, DC early this winter. With a collective impact of nearly $15 million in our 15th CreateAThon year, we believe our program is a powerful example of the most effective kind of Corporate Social Responsibility program:
- Aligned with the company's brand;
- Leverages the prized commodity of the talents and skills of its employees;
- Boosts morale;
- Makes a difference to those nonprofits being served.
In a post titled The Best Job In America, Jenny Lawson, executive director of A Billion + Change, writes, "Together, we are seeking to make A Billion + Change the biggest pledge of corporate service in history."
I think it will happen. I believe the A Billion + Change movement will catch fire as companies—large and small—realize the profound impact that comes from stepping up, making a commitment to service, and working together to do what needs to be done.
It has certainly changed our company for the better.
*The sentiments, if not the exact words, expressed by Senator Mark Warner, honorary chair of the A Billion+ Movement. I hasten to add that while I may be a bit biased—I am a native Virginian, after all—I found Senator Warner to be both refreshingly candid and delightfully charming.
**A special thanks to the leaders of the A Billion + Change movement: Honorary Chairman Senator Mark Warner, Points of Light, the Case Foundation, Deloitte, HP, IBM and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
***Photos graciously provided by A Billion + Change