Corporate philanthropy is an old tradition, and some companies take it further than others. While many organizations make cash donations largely for tax purposes, it’s less common to see companies volunteering time and effort for nothing in return but the satisfaction of helping.
Web-scale networking solutions provider Ciena funds a group called Ciena Cares that is made up entirely of company employees who volunteer their time for various good works and causes. In a recent blog post, Gary Smith, president and CEO of Ciena, says the organization is a reflection of individual employees’ passion as well as the passion of the entire enterprise.
“What started several years ago with an ‘Employee Day of Service’ and a ‘Charitable Match’ for donations has now grown into a world-class, globally-focused effort to give back in a variety of ways,” wrote Smith. “The Ciena Cares program is designed to support individuals’ passions for community involvement and amplify those efforts with the backing of the global Ciena brand.”
Many companies interested in corporate philanthropy today are adding to the traditional cash donations and sponsorship model and building out new and innovative flexible volunteering arrangements that support employees when they are committed to doing good works (by offering them flexible time around volunteering efforts, for example). It’s a way to amplify individual efforts to make more of a difference in communities. Ciena matches workers’ volunteer time and cash, according to Smith.
“Recognizing that our people not only volunteer during work hours but also during their personal time, Ciena now matches both the giving of time and treasure,” he wrote. “Case in point, if a Ciena volunteer takes a week of personal time every year to serve as a counselor at a summer camp for foster children, those 40 hours will be matched with US $400 from the Ciena Cares program.”
The company applies the same principle to disaster relief in communities where it operates. To support the people of affected communities as quickly as possible, Ciena individuals can donate and match their “treasure” through a new online portal to support organizations working directly in disaster areas. Smith notes that the efforts match who the people of Ciena are.
“I’ve always considered the responsibility of giving back to be something both personal and professional; personal in the sense that each individual brings their unique passions and gifts to bear when it comes to giving, and professional in the sense that an organization’s leadership must create an enablement dynamic from the center of the enterprise that amplifies the philanthropy of the individuals within it,” he wrote.
Edited by Maurice Nagle