In this Q&A video, Experian tells us how they increased employee participation by engaging new people in their program after partnering with Benevity. Find out how they shifted away from managing their volunteering program with spreadsheets and stopped manually cutting their own checks to nonprofits.
Benevity: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Elizabeth Pianalto: My name is Elizabeth Pianalto and I am a corporate responsibility specialist at Experian.
Volunteering is a big focus for Experian
Benevity: How long have you used Benevity?
Elizabeth: So, we've been partners with Benevity for about three and a half years now and our Heart of Experian program is very volunteer focused, so opposed to maybe fundraising and stuff like that, our employees love to volunteer.
Having the Spark program with Benevity helps us to track those volunteer hours and reward those volunteer hours and really just give a good and engaging experience for the employee.
Employees volunteer all year round
Benevity: Tell us about the volunteer program at Experian.
Elizabeth: Our volunteers volunteer all year round, so while we have campaigns that we do every once in a while, just to raise awareness, we volunteer at all times of the year.
We empower our employees to volunteer with the causes that they feel particularly passionate about.
So, there's a couple of different ways that our employees can get out into the community. A major one is through team building and we have lots of teams that you know, instead of going out to a nice lunch or something for a team building activity, they go to a food bank and pack food for a couple of hours.
And then, we also have events that we host at our different office locations, whether that's packaging meals again or it might be stuffing things for foster youth.
Making use of volunteer time off
And then the third major way that our employees volunteer is through their volunteer time off and that really is like their own floating holiday to use for volunteer time.
They can use it to volunteer at their kid's school, they can use it to plan some sort of fundraising event, they can use it to volunteer with a nonprofit, if they are on the board of directors.
It's up to them how they use that volunteer time.
How has your program grown?
Elizabeth: So, our program has grown a lot in the past few years and I think being a client of Benevity has really helped us to have different focuses.
So, when we first launched, it was really to just get people to use the platform and have a lot of awareness and just have people logged in basically. And since then, we've been able to focus on different aspects to improve our program.
Using the reporting tool to track participation
Most recently, we're working on participation targets and you know, making sure that we don't have the same people volunteering over and over again but really have touched new people and see how we can engage them.
We can run those reports through the Benevity reporting tool and it makes it really easy for us to find out where we need to pick up the slack a little bit.
A big increase in engagement
Benevity: What kind of results have you seen?
Elizabeth: We've seen a huge increase in participation. More engagement from our nonprofit partners as well.
I think that we've been able to really grow those relationships because they know that when an employee logs a volunteer hour, they get a cash donation in return.
It just helped us build up those partnerships and that trust with each other so that it doesn’t feel like we're taking all the time and that... it's sort of like give and take.
How has Benevity changed how you manage your programs?
Elizabeth: It's very different from what we used to use. I recommend that if anybody's tracking their volunteer time with Excel or something like that, that they need to stop. It doesn’t make their lives a lot easier.
Experian used to manually issue checks directly to nonprofits
Benevity: What was it like when Experian mailed checks?
Elizabeth: We use to actually cut our very own checks for all the matching that we did and not only was that difficult for us with a lot of administrative work, it was also really difficult for nonprofits because we would get so many checks bounced back because addresses change all the time.
We would pull our report from the tool that we were using before and I actually had to submit check request for every single nonprofit that our employees wanted a match for and it was a lot of work.
It took a lot of time and there were errors that happen so we would get check bounced backs and I mean, I still have checks that are dated from 2013 that I just can't find the address for, for the nonprofit organization.
Nonprofits can rely on the automated disbursement process
So, having the process be just much more automated and also that I don't have to deal with bounced back checks has really help save a lot of time and I feel like I can focus a lot more on the important things.
From the nonprofit side of things, I actually started my career in the nonprofit sector and I was actually the one who would fill in the deposit slip every couple of weeks.
I had to write the check number and the name of the person who's donating … and it was a lot of work. I had to wait in line for the bank to turn that stuff in.
So, now just knowing that that process is automated for the nonprofits now in a lot of cases is really comforting and I'm sure it would've made my job a lot easier if it was more common back then.
What would you say to other companies looking for a software solution to track their giving and volunteering initiatives?
Elizabeth: Like I said, if you are using Excel to track your volunteer time, you need to stop. You're going to get just so much more employee engagement and it's going to be easier for nonprofits if you use a program like Benevity.
Not just a tool — a strategic partner
Not only the program itself but also just all the tools that are available for helping with strategy and looking to the future and that sort of thing and just being part of the community.
You know, getting the emails from [Benevity CEO] Bryan [de Lottinville] who sends out his research emails and all of that, that's really, really great and important and something that we didn’t have before we joined Benevity.
Get tools and tips to help you shift your volunteering program to keep people connected during COVID-19. Check out our Virtual Volunteering Guide.
Want to see how Benevity can help you engage more employees? Request a demo.