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The Points of Light Institute (POLI) tribute that took place on March 21, 2011, and was later aired on NBC inspired thousands of people to become engaged in service to not only empower their communities and better their own lives, but also to unify our country. Throughout the evening former US Presidents shared moving examples of modern day service acts that started with one person and grew to impact millions.

Speakers that evening also heralded models of corporate service engagement—which are often overlooked or not well known—yet play a critical role in communities across the nation. Recently, POLI invited three such leaders to share their corporate social responsibility models and resources with a group of nonprofit and corporate sector leaders in an effort to share best practices.

Below are highlights from that discussion titled, Corporate Models to Inspire, Equip and Mobilize as well as respective resources to help you get involved:

As part of its “100 Years of Service” celebration, IBM has developed a roadmap for employee skills-based volunteering. The progressive plan not only encourages employees to be active and engaged in service, but also provided resources and tools to support their efforts. The plan was then scaled to become a global initiative that brings together employees on an international level.

UPS currently has more than 410,000 employees, and together with their own families included, they have contributed more than 1.2 million hours of service since they began their company-wide commitment to service. In fact, volunteering is a specific performance measure on which all employees are reviewed and all grant making done by the UPS Foundation is specifically tied to volunteerism. As a result of UPS’ focus on integrating service into their work environment, they are making a true impact. For example, in 2009 alonemore than 246,000 UPS employees participated in their annual fundraising campaign for the United Way and raised over $53.2 million. 

Target, the national retailer with the famous red and white bulls eye logo, is no stranger to philanthropy and “good giving.” The company now gives five percent of its profits per week to nonprofits and local charities—totaling approximately $3 million per week. The main issue areas for Target, include: education, arts, social services and team member engagement. To support the education focus Target has pledged to donate $500 million to support literacy among young students in the coming years. When this donation is combined with other recent donations, Target will have donated a total of $1 billion by 2015.

What can you share from your own experiences or that of your company’s experience with service and skills-based employee volunteerism? How might we make these types of programs more widely integrated across the country?

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