At Zovio, giving back to the community is one of our core values. Supporting and volunteering at organizations who are helping uplift the most vulnerable groups makes our communities better places to live and work. Because our organization is all about helping people achieve their ambitions, we see community service, volunteering, and corporate giving as a way to extend our mission to those least able to help themselves. Through our support – both as volunteers and through corporate giving to nonprofit organizations – we can address community issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, environmental conservation, or animal welfare. Plus, I strongly believe that when we share with others, we get back much more in return.
I don’t just say that because it sounds nice. Here are four important reasons why giving back to the community brings great benefits to us, too.
- Volunteering promotes professional development. When you volunteer, you gain new skills and experience that you may not have the opportunity to obtain at your place of work. Volunteer roles may include administrative tasks, fundraising, event planning, leadership, or other roles that look great on a resume. Having a wider range of demonstrated skills can help you look more experienced when applying for a promotion, new job, or position within a professional development group. A person’s desire to learn new skills while helping others is an attractive quality in a potential employee or group member.
- Volunteering provides opportunity to network and build bridges. Working beside someone new during a service project connects you to someone you may not meet otherwise. At Zovio, we have company-wide volunteer days. Team members from departments, levels, and roles across the entire company come out to give back. We regularly receive feedback from employees that one of their favorite parts of the events is that they meet so many new people who work in our organization. Casually striking up a conversation with a leader over a meaningful project is a great way to get noticed and form a relationship outside of a formal interview or meeting.
- Volunteering is a more effective team-building project than another happy hour or luncheon. Getting a team outside doing a park clean-up or sorting items at a food bank is a productive use of everyone’s time and the team has a great experience in the process. During the service project, volunteers often share personal stories of why the cause is important to them, which forms relationships that last longer than the surface-level conversations about daily work tasks. The benefits of group volunteering are not just for work teams, but families or friends can also bond over helping others as well. Working together gives a group of people the time to talk, find shared interests, and have fun without the distractions of work and cell phones. If you are looking for something new, fun, and meaningful to do with family or friends that can strengthen ties and improve group relationships, volunteering is a great option.
- Volunteering makes us feel good. Perhaps the most obvious reason we serve others is that we come away from serving with the good feeling that we’ve made the world around us that much better. I’ve never left a volunteer event in a bad mood or feeling like I wasted my time.
And that’s why for me personally, corporate social responsibility and community involvement is very important. I serve on the board of directors of Rady Children’s Hospital as well as volunteer at several nonprofit organizations throughout the year. I want to make sure Zovio employees all have the opportunity to give back as well. Not only do we have a community relations team coordinating volunteer events for employees, but Zovio offers sixteen hours of paid time off to volunteer per year. This benefit encourages our team members to volunteer to serve causes that are important to them. Our employees log their volunteer hours, and the person with the most at the end of the year has a $1,000 donation given in their name to the charity of their choice. This year we will also implement a Dollars for Doers program, in which each person who volunteers over one hundred hours in a year will direct a $100 donation to their favorite nonprofit organization.
Zovio also donates to nonprofit organizations in the form of corporate giving grants. In the past ten years, we have donated over $10 million in grants to make a positive impact in our communities. I encourage everyone to get involved with a cause they care about in their community, because whether the gift is in the form of volunteer work or donations, we can all do our part to make a difference—for those in need and ourselves, too!