“Volunteer Time” Makes Giving Back a Top Company Priority
About a year and a half ago, Penn Mutual implemented a Community Involvement Policy where full-time associates could use up to 8 hours of volunteer time each year. This has completely transformed Penn Mutual’s community outreach. It not only enabled greater engagement from our associates, but it also became a tangible indication that “giving back” was a top priority for the company.
The new policy was a direct result of a company-wide initiative to engage associates in charitable giving. Susan Deakins wrote at the time that a “Shared Sense of Belonging” was one of Penn Mutual’s core values and that the company was assembling an associate-led team chartered to champion Penn Mutual’s community activities. I’ve had the pleasure of leading that Community Outreach team, and we have accomplished a great deal over the past two years.
It wasn’t that Penn Mutual wasn’t involved in community outreach before – Penn Mutual associates are naturally very giving and community-oriented people – but there was a sense that we could have a greater impact if our activities were coordinated.
Based on feedback from its associates, Penn Mutual has since concentrated its efforts on key areas that resonated most with its associates. One focus is on veterans, which speaks highly to the partnerships that we have as a company with the Travis Manion Foundation and The American College Penn Mutual Center for Veterans Affairs. In addition, we received feedback that our associates would like to see efforts focused on cancer and disease-related initiatives as well as charitable efforts that helped children.
The response to the Community Involvement Policy has been overwhelming. Even though the policy was not in place until May of 2015, we had 58 associates volunteer utilizing a total of 212 volunteer hours that first year. This year, as of the end of November, we had 121 associates performing over 416 hours of volunteer work. These are all Community Outreach-initiated volunteer opportunities taking place during the work day. There have also been plenty of fund raising, charitable collections, and after-work volunteer activities.
About 19 percent of our home office associates have participated in a Community Outreach led volunteer activity. There is a saying which states that you just need 20 percent of the people on your side and you can change anything in this world. With the support we have had by our associates, we are well on our way to making a great impact in our community!
To be honest, when we first shared our plan, we were cautioned that we may be too ambitious in our goals, but we held course. I think many at Penn Mutual have been pleasantly surprised at how much we have been able to accomplish in such a short time.
This year, we’ve worked with 14 different charities. In terms of volunteer opportunities, we had employees volunteer as guest chefs at the Ronald McDonald House. We’ve worked with the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, which is affiliated with the American Cancer Society, and also with Cradles to Crayons. We’ve also worked with Last Chance Ranch, which is an animal rescue center in Quakertown.
We’ve raised money for the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross (for Louisiana flood victims), for Hope Lodge, and for a local organization called Bringing Hope Home which help pays essential household bills for families with cancer.
Penn Mutual associates donated 900 lbs. of food to Philabundance and collected over 700 pairs of socks for an organization called Joy of Sox which provides socks to the homeless, a need that not many people think of. We’ve donated about 80 bags of clothes and children’s goods to Cradles to Crayons. We have an initiative called Freezer Friday, which resulted in the donation of 100 boxes of frozen food to a local food pantry here at St. Catherine’s. We donated 30 Halloween costumes to an organization called Angels of God Clothing Closet and approximately $300 worth of animal shelter supplies to Last Chance Ranch. Not surprisingly, the whole company is pleased with the results.
The reaction has been nothing but positive, and the volunteer activities are a great bonding experience for associates. Not only are we giving back to our communities, but we are also providing opportunities to work alongside fellow associates that they may have never had the opportunity to work with. It’s been an impactful and memorable experience all around.
We’ve come a long way in less than two years. A lot of organizations will focus on maybe just one charity and simply make a monetary donation, but there’s so much more to charitable work than just giving money. Penn Mutual has committed itself to more than simply writing a check, it’s allowing its associates to give back to the community and truly make an impact which speaks to our culture as a company. Any work that we’re doing, we’re in it 110 percent.
Our guiding principles help shape who we are as associates, but the associates also help make the values something real. The two go hand-in-hand. It means a lot to be able to work for a company that truly cares. Penn Mutual’s commitment to allow associates 8 hours of volunteer time each year speaks volumes. Every action the company takes with respect to charitable work is proving that Penn Mutual is all about making the most out of life’s possibilities.