Corporate Volunteers: A Case Study
Good Neighbors Home Repair has been repairing homes of low-income people in Chester County, Pennsylvania for 27 years. Throughout the years, Good Neighbors’ ministry has served the predominately rural homeowners of this quaint Pennsylvania community located just a few miles outside of Philadelphia. If you know your geography, you’ll recall that this area of southeastern Pennsylvania shares a border with Delaware, the second smallest state in the U.S. The bulk of Delaware’s residents live in New Castle County which is mostly urban and suburban. This county marks a strong contrast to the countryside of Chester County.
The need for a low-income home repair ministry in Delaware is great, so in 2016, Good Neighbors expanded its ministry across state lines. In only three years, Good Neighbors’ home repair rate in Delaware caught up with the repair rate in Pennsylvania, averaging 70 homes a year in each state. Doubling our repairs means that the need for funding and volunteers also doubled. This increased demand meant that we had to strategize new ways to raise up support in an area where we had few constituents and little name recognition. Additionally, raising support in a county with a very different demographic meant that we had to strategize a unique advancement plan for Delaware. While rural Chester County allowed Good Neighbors to raise support through word of mouth, densely populated and urban New Castle County presented us with a fundraising challenge.
Due to generous corporate tax laws, 60% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. All of these companies encourage a “volunteer culture” among their employees and several of these companies reward their employees with a day off of work if they volunteer for a local nonprofit. Since our home repair model relies heavily on volunteers, it seemed only natural to begin our Delaware advancement plan with corporations.
So, in April of 2019, Good Neighbors organized its first corporate work week that we branded Hands of Hope. Because we had to contact these companies through “cold calls” or individual leads, we made sure that our marketing material was on par with the marketing materials that many large corporations are accustomed to. We hired a designer to create and brand our materials and even designed a Hands of Hope logo. We networked with strategic individuals in each company, secured 7 corporate sponsors and insured that the week provided volunteers with an excellent volunteer experience.
The week far exceeded our expectations. Our goal was to recruit 100 new volunteers and we recruited 121. Fourteen companies sent teams of volunteers averaging 8 to 10 people. To make the experience as volunteer-friendly as possible, we offered full day and half-day time slots. Well-prepared and well-equipped project managers welcomed each volunteer team. Snacks and water (and lunch for all day volunteers) were provided. The enthusiasm among the volunteers was visible in their work ethic and, because of such an enthusiastic response, we repaired 5 homes in only 4 days!
We finished the week off with a Friday night celebration at a local art museum and handed out awards to all participating companies. Each participant got a t-shirt and a personal thank you email. Finally, a quick survey was sent to all participants. From those who responded, 90% reported that Hands of Hope was one of the best volunteer experiences that they ever had ever participated in.
By providing an outlet for volunteerism amongst local companies, Good Neighbors was able to increase public awareness of our work through contact with these strategic individuals and businesses in Delaware.
Rachel Metzger is the Assistant Advancement Director at Good Neighbors Home Repair in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She spent 18 years teaching high school history where for many years she crossed the Delaware to teach in New Jersey just like George Washington. She has a Masters Degree in History from Villanova University and a Non Profit Management Certificate from Wilmington University. When she isn't busy driving around the hills and dales of Pennsylvania or sitting at the beaches in Delaware, she likes screaming at the television while watching her beloved Philadelphia Eagles.