Sunday, May 20, 2012
Posted on Tue, May. 15, 2012By DEE DEPASSStar Tribune (Minneapolis)Dianna Hamilton has five children and works as a data analyst for UnitedHealth Group, so she doesn't have muchtime to volunteer.Now she doesn't need much.Last year she was asked to take part in a pilot program in which the Minnetonka-based company's employeesbecome "micro-volunteers." Working online in intervals as short as 15 minutes, they use their job skills to helpnon-profits brainstorm marketing ideas, design logos, proofread brochures, build databases and much more."It's a great idea," Hamilton said. "I love the idea of doing these small, short-burst projects, especially if you can dothem online and at work."Micro-volunteerism is a relatively new workplace trend but is already becoming a powerful "employee engagement"tool, some human resources managers say.Target, Kraft Foods, IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte and scores of other corporations are climbing on board by tapping onlinemirco-volunteer catalysts such as Sparked.com, Catchafire.com and The Points of Light Institute's A Billion + Changecampaign.UnitedHealth, the nation's largest health insurance company, piloted the idea internally last year and had 230employees sign up to donate $50,000 worth of time."This platform is so cool. It's so smart," said Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility and president of theUnitedHealth Foundation.The company sees the pilot program as a logical extension of its efforts to encourage workers to volunteer, with morethan 5,000 employees donating 169,000 hours of time last year. Just last week, 200 employees got together inMinneapolis to build bikes for poor children.That project took two hours - time that Hamilton says she just doesn't have.Today Hamilton is United Health Group's leading participant in the micro-volunteering pilot. She's done projects worth$4,000 in 15 to 30 minute intervals. She built an Excel spreadsheet to tally scores for a fencing club; proofreadmarketing brochures for another nonprofit; crafted a pet walk fundraiser for a pets-of-deployed-vets program, andcreated a database of children's cancer facilities in Denver and New Mexico for another nonprofit.Before the pilot program, Hamilton said, volunteering "took a boat load of time and you have to be in a physicallocation for an extended period of time. That's very hard when you have kids. But this was easy and fun and didn'ttake me a lot of time. I love it."Kraft launched its micro-volunteering program one year ago. Company spokeswoman Julia Fernandez foundemployees were happy to help others without stressing out over traffic, scheduling or time.Since then 400 employees signed on in the United States, France, England and Australia. So far they've helped 130non-profits in seven countries."It's an ideal way for employees to give back by putting their professional skills and personal interests to use,"Fernandez said.Sparked.com and Catchafire.com link corporate employees with budget-strained non-profits. Billion Plus gets pledgesfrom companies looking to boost their number of employee volunteers.
The State | 05/15/2012 | 'Micro-volunteering' lets employees donate their...http://www.thestate.com/2012/05/15/v-print/2276794/micro-volunteering...1 of 25/20/2012 6:06 AM