By Meg Hogan
Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer services, recently announced the 2016 Civic 50 companies. The Civic 50 is a who’s-who of businesses using their powers, reputation and cash flow for good, contributing to some major positive changes in their communities.
A few from Pittsburgh made the list and their efforts could be used for ideas by other businesses in the region. Here are some ways your business – really, any organization – can be more community-minded, as inspired by the work of the Civic 50 honorees.
As technology advances, it becomes more accessible to the masses. Some communities, however, still lack access to the hard needs – the internet, for example – and the soft skills, such as how to use the internet, cloud services, email, social media and more, to really get the fullest benefit out of technology.
To become more community-minded, think of ways you can help Pittsburgh neighborhoods, communities or organizations that are lacking in technology hardware or soft skills. For example, if you’re part of a large company or corporation, think about how you can get kids who don’t have internet or computers access to them. Maybe it’s a laptop drive or maybe it’s another fundraiser.
Comcast NBCUniversal, a Civic 50 honoree with a Pittsburgh office, offers the Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. Since its inception five years ago the program has connected 2.4 million low-income Americans to the power of the internet at home. It continues to enable access to people living in public housing, low-income senior citizens and low-income community college students.
If you’re part of a smaller organization, consider teaching the digital skills you know to other people or organizations who could use them.
Know social media? Maybe you could teach the startups at the AlphaLab incubator how to use those channels appropriately for marketing and promotions. Or, if you’re a web designer, see if Pittsburgh Cares knows of any non-profits who could use your help to launch or redesign a website.
Meeting of the minds at Alpha Lab. Photo via Instagram.
Organize a Volunteer Day
Whether your company consists of five people or 50,000 people, you can organize a volunteer day. Find a non-profit of your choice and call or email them to see if they could use your help. Often, there are ongoing volunteer opportunities as well as one-time, event- or project-based opportunities.
In Pittsburgh, for example, the Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank needs ongoing volunteers for packing and organizing the food and performing clerical tasks, plus help for special events.
"I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh at a time when the mills were closing. I saw that there was a need for families to supplement their food budget and the Food Bank helps. I’ve enjoyed watching how the Food Bank has evolved over the years. I remember at first just separating can goods now they have funds to purchase the fresh, nutritional foods people need," Laraine Hlatky. #volunteer #volunteerappreciationmonth #givehope #pittcares #h2p
Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank volunteers. Photo via Instagram.
Alcoa, headquartered on Isabella Street across from PNC Park and employer to approximately 60,000 people worldwide, was a Civic 50 honoree this year. Among their many contributions to the city, they’ve been recognized for getting up to 62 percent of their employees to participate in a designated Month of Service. If they can get thousands of people to volunteer, you can probably figure out an event for your business, big or small.
Use Your Data to Spur Action
There’s a serious business boom happening in the ‘Burgh right now, and chances are, there’s data being collected that could be used to better understand the needs of the people, environment, community and infrastructure in the region.
Whether you’re part of a business that does banking, health care, gas or technology, there’s a chance that you could aggregate your data for big-picture improvements or integrate a public-facing data collection into your business goals for the year.
That’s what United Health Group, which has offices throughout the Pittsburgh region, is doing. It’s also one reason why they were named a Civic 50 honoree. The health care company is the brains behind America’s Health Rankings, an annual assessment of America’s health. The data is collected and analyzed by state and is used to stimulate conversations about public health priorities.
— AHR_Rankings (@AHR_Rankings) June 29, 2016
Insights from the 2016 America’s Health Rankings indicating a link between income and health. Via Twitter.
Have a great idea for how to make your Pittsburgh business community-minded? Let us know in the comments. Or, for more great ideas, check out all the amazing work the non-profits (yes, with an “s”) inside Construction Junction are doing.