Sharing Our Experiences and Skills to Help Drive Social Impact
UScellular associates have a deep sense of purpose and are strongly committed to giving back to the communities we serve. One new way our associates are giving back is through skills-based volunteerism, or when associates put their professional experience and expertise to use on a volunteer basis to help a nonprofit address a challenge or opportunity.
From 2022 through Q2 2023, our nonprofit partner Common Impact coordinated more than 70 UScellular associates to participate in four skills-based volunteer projects, including one-day pitch competitions and long-term consulting projects.
Pitch competitions are fast-paced events that connect skilled volunteers from a company with a nonprofit to tackle organizational challenges, resulting in several creative, actionable ideas for the nonprofit to choose from and put into practice. Consulting projects include cross-functional volunteers from a company focusing on a defined nonprofit challenge over a period of weeks or months.
Our associates and the participating nonprofits shared that:
- More than 90% of participating associates thought the experience was a useful professional development experience.
- Eighty-one percent of associates involved in the long-term consulting projects felt they improved their workplace skills as a result of their skills-based volunteerism experience.
Participating nonprofits strongly agree the work accomplished on their projects made a real difference to their organization. Participating nonprofit Project Syncere shared, “The project helped us better understand the needs of our alumni and how we could better engage them. The project provided us with a blueprint for the alumni engagement program we are seeking to build out. “
Meghan Hammond, a UScellular associate and team leader for one of the long-term consulting projects, spoke about the skills-based volunteerism experience that she and the Consumer Insights and Marketing Analytics team supported. The project team included Diane Lauridsen and Leo Hennessy leading the day-to-day project work and Mike Stachura, Dan Comenduley and Steve Welling contributing their knowledge and skills.
Why did you want to participate in a skills-based volunteer project?
The idea of using our skills to help a nonprofit in the STEM space was very motivational for our team. We thought that we could make a much bigger impact doing something that we have expertise in. We also were excited to work with an organization (Project Syncere) helping kids in our local area. The idea of being able to help an organization like that drives a lot of passion for the work.
Tell us briefly about the skills-based volunteer project you led with your team for the nonprofit, Project Syncere?
The project lasted approximately 4 months. The main issue Project Syncere needed help with was getting insights from alumni to inform their alumni outreach strategy. Our team had discussions with the Project Syncere personnel to better understand their organization, challenges, and strengths. Then the team formulated a research plan to gain insights directly from alumni via both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Finally, the team packaged the learnings into a deck and presented it to the Project Syncere leaders.
Any unexpected outcomes from you and your team’s involvement in a skills-based volunteer project? If so, what were they?
The team broadened its scope a bit to formulate a recommendation on the strategy for the alumni program, taking the engagement a step beyond conducting the research and coming up with a proposal for how to best use the research for its alumni program strategy. The recommendation included proposed short term and near-term steps to build out the alumni program. The team also provided a marketing plan with recommendations for best engaging program participants, volunteers, and donors, again beyond the initial scope of the project.
In addition, one team member participated in Project Syncere programming by serving as a judge for a contest the organization held.
Did you learn anything about your team through this experience? If so, what did you learn?
I was extremely proud of my team. They ran this project from beginning to end and provided very high-quality deliverables, going above and beyond the original ask. The team did this work in addition to their regular jobs and did a masterful job at balancing the project with their regular workloads. I learned that they could deftly apply their research skills to add significant value in the nonprofit space.
We knew that we were passionate about helping in our communities, and this project reinforced that passion.
Did you learn anything more about nonprofits through this experience? If so, what did you learn?
We learned more about Project Syncere and how effective it is in helping students think broadly about their future educational and career opportunities. In addition, while this wasn’t a new learning, we were exposed to the challenges that nonprofits experience, many of which are similar to for-profit businesses, mainly with resource constraints.
What advice or would you give to any associates considering participating in a skills-based volunteer project?
If you commit to a project like this, take it as seriously as your regular job. Also, consider the constraints that the nonprofit is facing and ensure that any requests / recommendations you make of the nonprofit are feasible given those constraints. This is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact and meet new people. There is something extra-rewarding about using your specialized skills to help an organization that’s devoted to helping others.