Brendy Lange: I made an IMPACT!
Skills-based volunteering just makes sense
According to Brendy Lange of Chicago, “Skills-based volunteerism just makes sense. We do all this great work for our clients on a regular basis, why shouldn’t we do the same on our own time for non-profit organizations?”
Here is Brendy’s story:
We began working with the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross in 2006. Initially, we were participating in smaller-scale projects designed to help the organization address some of its business challenges and learn new ways of operating more effectively. Last year, we decided to take our efforts to the next level by tying our next Red Cross project in with IMPACT Day. We knew this would enable us to leverage a lot more employee volunteers and it seemed like a great opportunity to make a more significant impact.
After talking with Red Cross staff, our IMPACT Day project team decided to focus our efforts on a fledgling social responsibility program that the Red Cross had developed called Ready When the Time Comes (RWTC). The RWTC program was designed to help corporations prepare for and respond to disasters in the Chicagoland area. We decided that by focusing on this program, we could not only help the Red Cross develop stronger partnerships with the business community in Chicago, but we could also provide a valuable professional experience for some of our people by enabling them to apply their professional skills in a real-life setting.
So, on IMPACT Day, we pulled together more than 130 Deloitte volunteers to participate in one of the Red Cross’ RWTC disaster relief training sessions. The idea was to both introduce the Red Cross to a new pool of skilled volunteers that could join their response network, and to provide valuable, on-the-spot feedback and direction on the program and the organization as a whole. Throughout the day, we worked with the Red Cross staff to develop tangible recommendations for improving the potential impact of RWTC, enhancing the Red Cross’ partnerships with local corporations, attracting and retaining skilled volunteers and defining a community presence that would maximize their core mission and objectives.
Since IMPACT Day, we have heard a great deal of positive feedback from Red Cross staff about the work that we did. Based on the model we developed, we were told that the Chicago Chapter has been able to successfully reach out to a number of major corporations in the Chicagoland area. According to Joan Beaubaire, chief marketing officer for the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross, the training sessions “brought a very valuable outside perspective and approach to evaluating our processes. The Deloitte teams gave us concrete recommendations [some of which were ‘low hanging fruit’] that we have already implemented.”
For me, the importance of the work we did is not just about having helped the Red Cross to fine tune their processes and more effectively expand their reach in the city of Chicago, it’s about what that could mean in the grander scheme. We did for the Red Cross what we do every day for our clients; only this time, we prepared a large group of people to respond to disasters, and in turn, helped the Red Cross to help those who need it most.
In the end, this experience cemented the fact that we really can do a lot with our skills. We are a talented group of people. We can really make a difference and all it takes is finding an organization that we feel passionate about and putting our everyday skills to good use.
For his outstanding work with the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross, Brendy was recently honored with a Deloitte 2008 Midwest Community IMPACT/Jefferson Award. This award is given to individuals who, through volunteer service, do extraordinary things for other people, their community, their nation, or the environment.