Softchoice’s corporate giving program, Softchoice Cares, is led by an all employee board. Over an 18-month term, the board supports all employee philanthropic programs in the communities across North America, and they plan and execute an international mission in support of computer literacy in an underprivileged community overseas.
The current Softchoice Cares board’s tour of duty is coming to an end this month. Before they hand over the reins to a new group of volunteer leaders, I asked them to reflect on their experiences, lessons learned, and advice for the incoming board and other organizations.
What was the single most rewarding experience during your time on the Softchoice Cares board?
“Seeing one of our product marketing managers, Angela Cope, hoist a check for $35,000 in employee donations after her year of hard work and incredible grassroots fundraising, which she then got to hand over to a charity she really believes in.” — Craig Bator, Vice Chair
How has serving on the Softchoice Cares board given you new skills or abilities that you apply to your daily work?
“Since starting on the board, I have transitioned to a new Six Sigma Black Belt role. In my new position, the leadership and project management skills I developed from Softchoice Cares are definitely working to my benefit. I would not have been as prepared for this role had I not been on the board.” — Jen Wood, Regional Ambassador (Canada)
How has your experience on the Softchoice Cares board better connected you with colleagues and the company’s overall mission, vision and values?
“Seeing Softchoice’s senior leadership set a company-wide goal around community involvement and volunteering makes me believe that Softchoice Cares really can be a driving force for positive development.” — Alex Drozd, Regional Ambassador (US Central)
What is the one thing you learned from your time on the board that you wish you knew on day one?
“This is my second time on the board, but I would say this time around I learned about the need to establish clear goals and individual responsibilities, and focus closely on executing your plan.” — Heather Brown, Chair
Based on your experience in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, what is your Number 1 tip for the next group going on an international mission?
“Be ready for the physicality of the work you are doing. I pulled my back during the second half of the trip and it cut short my ability to help with the construction project we were working on. I was really disappointed with myself for not taking the proper precautions and missing out on what was really hard, but really gratifying work.” — Diane Rodriguez, Regional Ambassador (US West)
What advice would you give to the incoming Softchoice Cares board?
“At the very start, clearly define your individual roles and responsibilities, set clear individual and team goals for your full term. Establish regular checkpoints along the way to review progress.” — Heather Brown, Chair “Get the most out of this opportunity that you possibly can, but remember you only take out what you put in. Be self-motivated and look for opportunities to leverage our awesome corporate culture and make Softchoice Cares the driver of fun and social activities.” — Ian Zagrodney, Volunteer Lead
What advice would you give to another company that is looking to form an employee-led philanthropic initiative like Softchoice Cares?
“At the employee level, seek to fill your board with people who will take charge, make decisions, and rally employees around your cause – those natural leaders and inspirational personalities.” — Diane Rodriguez, Regional Ambassador (US West) “I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a number of other organizations interested in starting a similar philanthropic board. I think the best place to start is at the top and get senior leadership buy-in. Once you do, their support will funnel through the rest of the organization and set the board up for success.” — Jen Wood, Regional Ambassador (Canada)