Above and beyond: The Standard gives back

Kate Petsche February 24, 2016 Employee Engagement

We chatted with The Standard’s Megan Brown and Bob Speltz about how The Standard team consistently sets and exceeds impressive giving & volunteering goals. Here’s what they had to share with us:


Tell us a little bit about the history of your giving & volunteering program

The Standard has a long history of giving dating back to our founder Leo Samuel.  Over the past 100+ years, we have been there for our customers when they need us most. It is with this same care that we strive to positively impact the communities where we live and work.  At The Standard, we share a common belief that when it comes to the success of communities, we’re all in this together.


What are some of the ways employees get involved in your programs?

The Standard offers several ways for employees and their families to volunteer. Employees have access to volunteer opportunities ranging from two to eight hour commitments. These events are scheduled during work hours as well as weekends to accommodate schedules and family activities. All regular full-time and part-time employees receive company-paid time annually to volunteer in their communities.

In addition to volunteering, our employees have a strong history of giving. During our 2015 Employee Giving Campaign, The Standard community pledged more than $2.2 million to support 1,266 nonprofit organizations through contributions from current and retired company employees and dollar-for-dollar donation matching by The Standard. Employee participation in the 2015 campaign was a record-breaking 70 percent, compared with 66 percent in 2014. The Standard will distribute the contributions, combined with its corporate giving, to a wide variety of nonprofit and academic organizations during 2016.

One popular incentivizing activity is our Jeans Days Program. Now in its ninth year, The Standard encourages employees to donate $100 to a nonprofit organization in exchange for the opportunity to wear jeans to work on Thursdays and Fridays. The Jeans Days Program alone will raise $300,000 in 2016 and benefits several nonprofit organizations.


You have an impressive history of setting and achieving high goals for engagement. How do you consistently improve upon participation year over year?

After each Campaign, our team meets to review what worked well and what we could have done better. We experiment and try new things, always welcoming and carefully considering employee feedback. We also collaborate closely with our Corporate Communications team to create multi-channel communications that both engage and excite employees. During the Campaign, we hold friendly competitions, communicate progress often and, importantly, thank employees for participating.


Tell us about your volunteer expo.

The Volunteer Expo was launched in our home offices in Portland, Ore. in 2006 during our 100-year anniversary. It was created to connect employees with nonprofits in our headquarters community and featured 40 nonprofit organizations that first year. We dramatically expanded the event in 2009 and moved it to a public outdoor venue in downtown Portland. We did this for a few reasons. Doing so meant we could additional nonprofit organizations and it allowed us to invite the general public to attend. In recent years, the Expo has taken place both in Portland and Cincinnati, Ohio, and now includes more than 145 nonprofits. We estimate that 2,500 to 3,000 people attend the Expos annually.


How have employees responded to the expo?

Employees love the Expos. They have an opportunity to engage with organizations, make great connections and favorably position The Standard as a great place to work.


How do you plan to continue achieving your giving, volunteering, and engagement goals in the future?

We will continue to do what works and add new opportunities.  We always seek to improve and vary our programming so that we can better engage employees at all levels in order to promote volunteerism and encourage deeper, more consistent employee engagement.