Having executive support to drive philanthropic initiatives is essential to any corporation’s ability to quickly pivot their CSR programs when needing to make an immediate impact. With COVID-19, the social justice movement, and more, 2020 has brought a need to act fast in regards to relief and giving efforts. At this year’s bbcon conference, Kyra Scalea, Manager of Community Stewardship at Vanguard led a virtual session on how support from the top has allowed her team to accelerate relief efforts this year more than ever.
To ensure they had bridged the gap between CSR team and executive leadership, Kyra Scalea and Vanguard’s CSR team utilised four key pivot points to maintain action-oriented executive support throughout 2020:
- Doing the right thing
- Communicating clearly
- Utilising business partnerships
- Staying agile
The concept of “doing the right thing” is anchored in all Vanguard decision-making processes, which helped prevent any prolonged delays in approval from executives. Especially with relief response, prompt action is crucial. Scalea credits much of Vanguard’s immediate success to ‘executive support jumping in so quickly and in such smart ways,’ increasing its match programme to 100% for all nonprofits, ultimately providing $5 million in COVID-19 relief response. Her team was also able to respond to later funding efforts, raising $2 million in rapid response to Vanguard’s signature CSR program, Strong Start for Kids.
Kyra then said that taking a little extra time to consistently communicate with employees and leadership on any changes actually helped keep the ball rolling and sped up the process later on. Decisions could accelerate faster with executives constantly in the loop and employees that were always kept up to speed with new opportunities wanted to participate. This includes email updates sent out to the entire employee base and one-pagers to provide as much information as possible about each change.
Business partnerships serve as a key component in aligning Vanguard’s giving and volunteering programs with the causes their employees really care about. By working with her YourCause account manager along the way, Kyra was able to look into all aspects of their CSR efforts, such as their matching gifts program and newly added Dollars-for-Doers to make any necessary adjustments to ensure efforts were focused on what was important to Vanguard employees. Additionally, Kyra could see what other peers were doing for relief efforts, which nonprofits they were directing their focus to, and even curated lists of possible virtual volunteering opportunities that Vanguard crew members could participate in.
Staying agile and willing to adjust at a moment’s notice was needed throughout the entire process and is definitely not a component that will be going away anytime soon for Kyra, her team, or Vanguard as a whole, “Now here we are in October and I think we can solidly say, It’s a movement, not a moment. We’ve changed the way we are doing business, changed the way we are doing grantmaking, volunteerism, employee giving, employee relief. We’ve made these changes with the excellent decision-making of our executives, who come down and help us continue to do the right thing.”