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Tech for Good: Businesses Embracing Strategic Optimism with CSR Technology

Earlier this month, members of our team joined the 3rd annual Austin, Texas Corporate Engagement Council (CEC) Summit, where we considered how we could apply our learnings from the sessions to help our partners make a positive impact on their communities by leveraging technology like GivePulse’s CSR platform. At the CEC Summit, attendees engaged with Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas and Kate O’Neill, Founder of KO Insights. 

Mayor Adler presented the City of Austin’s priorities and goals with a key focus on the homelessness crisis, followed by Kate O’Neill who discussed her vision for the future of technology. Below, we will summarize the learnings and discuss how to apply realistic optimism to your everyday philosophy and leverage CSR technology to serve your communities and society at large such as:

  • Fostering community partnerships with institutions, schools, social impact organizations, and local businesses
  • Building purposeful and efficient programs for improved volunteer experience
  • “Feeding your block” to rebuild the economy in your community

We believe that embracing technology is pivotal for maximizing impact. Connect with us to discuss how leveraging the GivePulse CSR Technology Platform can make growing your CSR program more efficient and effective. 

The Future of Technology is What you Make it

Image of speaker at the CEC Summit discussing strategic optimism

We often hear the phrase “the future of technology” spoken with a hint of apprehension. While apprehension can spur from both positive excitement or drive fear and worry, the truth is that the future of technology doesn’t have to be extreme, especially when it’s being leveraged for the greater good of our communities. O’Neill uses the term “strategic optimism” to describe her philosophy surrounding the future of technology, noting that it’s unrealistic to expect utopia or dystopia, but rather we should recognize that we have the power to utilize technology for good, and act on it.

GivePulse’s volunteer management platform highlights one way businesses, social impact organizations, schools and institutions can utilize technology to benefit their communities. The University of Georgia’s Campus Kitchen is a student-led program that illustrates how utilizing technology for a good cause can make for more efficient programs and productive experiences for everyone involved. The Campus Kitchen builds relationships with businesses that have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs like Trader Joe’s and local social impact organizations like the Foodbank of Northeast Georgia in an effort to create sustainable solutions to hunger and food waste that mutually benefits the university-community partnership. In order to maintain their good work in the community, the Campus Kitchen leverages GivePulse’s volunteer management technology to ensure that the program remains productive and beneficial for everyone involved – students, community partners, and especially those they serve. 

Similarly, Keep Austin Fed partners with a variety of local socially responsible businesses including bakeries, caterers, and restaurants as they work to solve the hunger crisis in their community. These partnerships provide leftover food to Keep Austin Fed that they distribute daily to local social impact organizations that provide services to communities experiencing food insecurity. To make processes more efficient, Keep Austin Fed leverages GivePulse technology to source and schedule volunteers for food pick-ups and deliveries, locate organizations in need of nutritious food, and coordinate with generous businesses that make food donations.  By partnering with GivePulse, Keep Austin Fed empowered 167 volunteers to make over 3600 food rescue runs in 2020. They even extended their volunteer opportunities to include experiences like gleaning at a local farm and cooking meals in a commercial kitchen. These new ways to get involved furthered their mission to eliminate food waste, as well as provided more prepared meal options to folks in need. 

Key Takeaway: Whether you’re a higher education institution, social impact organization, or a socially responsible business seeking ways to better your community, embracing the possibilities of a digital future allows you to harness the power of tech for accessibility, mutuality, and sustainability in community engagement.

Take Action in Your Community 

The sudden need to adapt to living remotely brought on by the global pandemic in early 2020 posed a number of technological challenges for businesses, Higher Education Institutions, and Social Impact Organizations as they all strived to meet the demands of large-scale virtual learning, working, and service-providing. Technological solutions empowered communities to quickly pivot towards implementing solutions to virtually maintain services, productivity, and impact. 

While leaning on technology tools during the pandemic helped ensure that all of our daily activities would not come to a screeching halt, many individuals and communities who faced adverse effects continue to work to pick up the pieces. O’Neill believes that “if we could distill economic policy or labor markets down to focus on your block, or metaphorically your block – your neighborhood, the few blocks in which you have most of your spending decisions” would go a long way towards rebuilding our communities, and economy as a whole.

Genentech employees sign up for volunteer opportunities, like the mentoring pictured here, through a CSR technology platform

Genentech’s Futurelab program partners with K-12 schools in the South San Francisco Unified School District to make a hyperlocal impact. Their dedication to uplifting their community remains one of their most defining qualities. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Genentech began to scale the impact made by Futurelab through their partnership with GivePulse to streamline the scheduling, communication, and tracking of its various programs. With their understanding of the power of technology and utilization of GivePulse’s integration capabilities with platforms like Zoom and Google Apps, Futurelab was able to continue building a culture of purpose by strengthening their mentoring programs virtually throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ultimately driving Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) success. 

Key Takeaway: Technology helped us maintain a level of stability throughout the pandemic as a whole, and now it’s time to focus on rebuilding the communities that were hit hardest by shifting support to the needs of local businesses, institutions, and organizations. 

Moving Forward Together 

If you’re ready to take action to begin rebuilding your community, explore opportunities and events to give back. GivePulse makes it easy to find a way to get connected based on your interests, availability, and more! Solving tough social problems through the use of technology is at the heart of the GivePulse mission. The GivePulse platform is designed to support all organizations—non-profits, associations, institutions, socially responsible businesses—as they work towards building a better tomorrow for their communities and for those they serve. To discuss how GivePulse’s CSR Technology can help your program make an impact in your community, schedule a call with our team.