“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
To those invested in the B Corp community and the vision of an inclusive economy that prioritizes people, planet, and profits equally, it may seem obvious that Certified B Corporations share volunteering as a central value. Many Portland B Corps place volunteering prominently as a function of company culture and employee recruitment & retention by providing paid volunteer time off (VTO). Many such companies who include paid VTO as an employee benefit offer a range of 8 to 80 hours of paid VTO per year per employee. Some also organize company-wide volunteering days.
In a B Learning lunch in late 2017 at Hopworks Urban Brewery on SE Powell, a panel discussion about volunteering exposed a pain point. Representatives from local companies expressed concern that, although their employers were offering generous paid VTO, many hours had been left unfulfilled. The ergonomic furniture company, Fully, offers 80 hours of annual VTO per employee, had audited their usage and found that roughly 30% of such hours were being fulfilled. Employees representing other companies in the room echoed these findings within their own companies.
Why are so many hours going unused? The answers came immediately, and are primarily related to barriers to entry. There were two reasons that most in attendance seemed to agree upon. One is that volunteer opportunities are difficult to aggregate and find for the areas and causes of interest. The other is that many opportunities that had been found required a long commitment of time often including multiple training sessions prior to any on-site active volunteering.
Before the lunch plates were cleared and the pints of beer and kombucha at the B Learning Lunch were finished being gulped, the Portland B Corp Day of Service was conceived. The concept: organize multiple volunteer shifts at different Portland metro nonprofits on a weekday afternoon - encouraging employers to internally sponsor and support participating employees to take paid volunteer time off. Then those who volunteered congregate at a later time for a post-volunteer happy hour.
In early October, B Local PDX hosted the 3rd Annual B Bash to celebrate the Portland B Corp Community. The event kicked off with a town hall meeting that engaged in a passionate, provocative brainstorm session with many local nonprofits to gather input and feedback to help us generate ideas and excitement for the day of service concept.
This collective community effort has led to a day and event that is now fast-approaching!
Please join us on Thursday, February 21, 2019 to take part in the first Portland B Corp Day of Service! Encourage your fellow employees, friends, and family members to partake, as well.
Participants will volunteer with one of a variety of selected nonprofits with the aim to provide an opportunity to help them to make an impact and to cultivate a new relationship with an organization in one of the following categories: Health, Human Services, Environment/Energy/Conservation, Animals, Education, Community, Equity, and Food Insecurity.
There is an abundance of nonprofits in the Portland metro area that are making incredibly positive impacts. For this first Portland B Corp Day of Service, a modest yet impressive bunch of nonprofits have been selected to be represented and provide volunteer opportunities. With each subsequent successful event, the numbers of participant volunteers and nonprofits is hopeful to grow.