Volunteering Virtually: Engaging Employees During A Pandemic

In recent years, more and more companies have recognized the benefits of giving back to their communities by providing employees with opportunities to volunteerNot only does it make their brand more recognizable in the communities in which they work, but it also makes for happier employees. Regarding a recent survey on the importance of workplace volunteerism, businessnewsdaily.com noted, 

“The research revealed that employers that encourage and promote volunteering boost employee morale, improve the workplace atmosphere, and enhance the perception of their brand...Indeed, the study found that an overwhelming majority – 89% – of employees think organizations that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment. In addition, 70% believe volunteer activities are more likely to boost staff morale than company-sponsored happy hours, with more than three-quarters saying volunteering is essential to employee well-being.”  

Before the pandemic hit, opportunities for workplace volunteerism were plentiful. Today, though our communities need help like never before, with the social restrictions due to COVID and many employees still working from home, companies are struggling to find volunteer opportunities that will engage with their communities in meaningful ways. 

Enter the MATTER Stay at Home Volunteer Kit Packing Event, a fun and impactful volunteer experience allowing employees to pack MATTERbox snack packs in the safety of their homesBy using video conferencing technology, like Zoom, employees can volunteer to pack with their coworkers virtually online and experience the energy and excitement of an in-person MATTERbox packing eventAnd the healthy food they pack can be distributed to organizations of their choice working within their own communities 

Recently Target, and their in-house media agency, Roundel, held an online employee volunteer event entitled “Eliminating Barriers to Health” with 190 of their employees from around the U.Sand India. The team in the U.S. packed MATTERbox snack packs, while the team in India made masks. Using Zoom, the employees were gathered together virtually in their own homes.

The event opened with welcomes and introductions by Target and Roundel personnel, followed by MATTER staff briefly sharing MATTER’s mission and explaining how MATTERbox snack packs address health and nutrition in our communities. After the welcome and introductions, the large group broke up into “break out rooms” randomly assigned by Zoom. While MATTER staff “walked” through the rooms answering questions, individuals in India making their masks chatted with coworkers in the States packing snack packs. Based on the chatter and laughter, the employees had a great time reconnecting with their local coworkers and meeting new coworkers from the other side of the world.  

For the 89 employees who packed snack packs, all had been sent MATTERbox kits before the event via UPS, so there was no physical contact with MATTER staff or Target/Roundel personnel. Each kit contained the food, bags, You MATTER notes of encouragement, goal cardsstickers and instructions to complete 50 healthy snack packs. 

In all, the Target/Roundel employees packed 4,450 snack packs in one hour. The employees had the option to distribute the snack packs in their own communities or return them to MATTER for distribution to our community partners, which will include the upcoming Minneapolis Children’s March on August 29.  

MATTER’s Project and Events Director, Joy Altmann, was pleased with how smoothly the event went. “While it might sound daunting to get 200 people together for an event online, this was so easy! It was a lot of fun for everyone and in the end, they made a huge impact in communities around the world with much-needed food and masks.” 

To employers considering doing a packing event for their employers, Joy offered this encouragement, 

Don’t minimize the importance of getting your team together. Yes, the good they do for others is very important, but an event like this allows your employees to reconnect socially by doing something fun and meaningful together. That will help with team building and boosting morale, which every company needs to be thinking about during these trying days.” 

If your company is interested in providing a great volunteer experience for your employees, let MATTER be your easy button. All you need to do is contact Joy at joy@matter.ngo and she will help you craft the perfect packing event for your team. We guarantee they will have a great time being virtually together while making a difference in the lives of others! 

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