by Emily Langner
In episode 12 of High-Profile’s Build Better Podcast, Anastasia welcomed Bridget Akinc, the CEO of Building Impact, to talk about how the firm is transforming volunteering by connecting companies with nonprofits in a more meaningful way. By “co-designing” volunteer opportunities and events, employees can make a greater impact by better serving the needs of the nonprofits.
Building Impact was started 15 years ago to serve as a bridge between nonprofits that are innovating and finding new ways to solve complex social issues, and companies who want to be able to give back but don’t necessarily have time or resources to figure out where their time or dollars can be best applied. The mission, Akinc says, was to provide an “easy on-ramp” for companies to get involved in meaningful volunteer opportunities.
Akinc says the organization embraces the “democratization of giving,” providing opportunities for employees to donate to, or participate in, projects that are most closely akin to the things they feel strongly about. As a result, employees are more engaged and excited about participating, knowing they are making an impact with efforts that are truly needed. She adds, “The best work gets done by folks who are excited about the charge in front of them.”
With every project, Akinc and the staff at Building Impact consider a double set of objectives. The first is to provide a team building day that helps engage employees and build the community within a company. Second, and equally important, is fulfilling the mission of the nonprofit. Building Impact does this by utilizing a three-step process which includes listening to and understanding the needs of the nonprofit, co-designing an experience that not only achieves the mission of the nonprofit but also utilizes the unique strengths and talents of a company’s employees to achieve the mission, and measuring the outcomes to apply to future projects.
One example of an event that Building Impact organizes is a summer hunger drive. Most people donate to food banks and drives in the winter months and during the holidays, but many don’t recognize the need for keeping food on the shelves during the other times of the year. Building Impact provides opportunities and encourages companies to participate in something that truly makes a difference to those in need.
Akinc advises companies to assess how often they can make a commitment to volunteering. She says that when employees can come to expect that there is going to be a project or day that is picked out once a quarter, for example, you can build momentum within the employee base for “harnessing the skills and passions that people have toward the social causes that you choose to work on as a group.”
To learn more about Building Impact’s mission and how to participate in meaningful volunteer activities, visit https://www.buildingimpact.org/.