How can employees stay connected and give back in a pandemic? Virtual volunteering
September 2, 2020
By Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, President of Charles Schwab Foundation
At a time when a global pandemic is forcing all of us to do less in some areas — less travel, less socializing with friends and family, and less time spent away from home in general —Schwab is looking for ways to help its employees do more.
As part of our new CommUNITY 2020 initiative — a virtual volunteering and giving program that delivers new ways for employees to serve their communities — we’ve curated hundreds of volunteer opportunities for our employees aimed at lifting those in need.
Activities include virtual volunteering and acts of kindness – like writing a letter of gratitude, creating care packages, and virtual tutoring – that support underserved communities, with new choices added every month. Sprinkled throughout are financial education opportunities to support our ongoing commitment to financial literacy for people of all ages and backgrounds.
"Schwab’s culture of service is a source of pride for our employees and one of the reasons they cite for loving their jobs. Plus, our support in the communities in which we live and work is needed now more than ever."
While cancelling events like our annual Schwab Volunteer Week and other similar initiatives is disappointing (but necessary), we have made it a priority to find new ways for our employees to stay engaged with their communities by offering projects that fit their schedules, tap into their skills and align with their interests, all while staying safe.
We believe it’s the right thing to do. Not only are we helping our colleagues continue to give back during the pandemic, but the launch of CommUNITY 2020 helps us meet evolving community needs while expanding and deepening our volunteerism programs.
The initiative is supported by four pillars of service. Each can be performed from anywhere, at any time, empowering all employees to:
- ACT: Schwab has curated hundreds of virtual volunteer opportunities for employees that support those most in need in the communities they live and work.
- GIVE: Schwab is matching employees’ personal contributions 2:1 for donations made to eligible nonprofit organizations, with matches totaling up to $2,000 per employee annually.
- LEARN: Employees are invited to participate in the company’s new educational series on giving, which features panel discussions with nonprofit leaders and practical tips on how to engage in local communities.
- SHARE: To advocate for the causes most important to individual employees and to inspire others to follow their lead, Schwab encourages them to post their stories on social media with #Schwab4Good and the company is highlighting them internally in newsletters and on their intranet.
Since the program launched in early July, hundreds of employees have completed virtual volunteering activities – from sharing interviewing skills, resume writing tips and holding online practice sessions for veterans through Hire Our Heroes, to transcribing Civil War-era records for the Smithsonian Black History project. Others are training to make welfare calls on behalf of Meals on Wheels, whose clients are now more isolated than ever due to quarantines and social distancing.
But the most popular activity so far has been one that employees can do with their families — creating “Kynd Kits” for people and groups in need. The kits include a range of useful items: “dignity bags” for the homeless, LGBTQ support kits and care packages for seniors, all of which are personalized with a note or a picture from Schwab employees letting the recipient know they are cared about.
We’re just getting started. We view this effort as a learning opportunity and expect to evolve and grow the program in the future as we eventually return to the office. As I said, giving back is just part of who we are.
While no one person can do everything, each one of us can do something. And when Schwabbies unite, we become a powerful force for change.