When the Boston Globe headline read “Volunteers unwanted” above the fold on the front page on Wednesday 3/25/15, I had to respond in case people got the wrong impression, since volunteers are very much needed in the nonprofit sector, and this is the premise of PMD’s business model.
Yet the subhead “Nonprofits often fear what corporations want to give” had some truth to it.
So I wrote a Letter to the Editor that was published today*, adjacent to a nice letter by Community Servings’ CEO David Waters, who reminds us that contributed services are a valuable resource that can greatly expand charity impact when done right.
Another critical part of PMD’s business model is that we rigorously plan and prepare for PMD service projects, making site visits, mobilizing expertise, and buying, transporting, preparing materials, and setting up the tools and materials so that volunteers can become productive quickly AND learn about the context of their contributions. It can sometimes take 40 manhours of preparation in order for 50 volunteers to help out together for one hour; luckily when we repeat service projects like assembling Lego science kits, we can reuse the training slides we’ve carefully developed and refined over the years.
One last plug about PMD corporate partnership projects: our partners (Novartis, EMC, VMware, etc.) donate to PMD to ensure that everything is ready to go for their private groups, “much the way some organizations have an event planner orchestrate their holiday party.” PMD is currently planning summer and autumn service projects, so call me to learn about options for your business.
*Due to space limitations the only thing that was left out of my letter was my specific example, so I’ll share that part:
Now planning its fifth year, exemplary Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) makes $5,000 grants to its 40+, vetted charity partners to pay for materials and staffing, fosters communication/clear mutual expectations during a four-month planning period, as well as assigns its own staff to make site visits in advance and help lead 3,000+ employee volunteers participate in its annual, company-wide Service Day: One Community. One Blue.
Note: PMD was a BCBSMA charity partner with the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, assembling protein science kits in September, and we have applied to expand this project in 2015.)