Tag Archives: community engagement

Amazing community opportunities in the Old Pueblo

Summer has been extremely busy for the NPcatalyst team. Rather than spend the warm months surfing waves in the Pacific or backpacking along the Tahoe Rim Trail, we’ve been serving clients and connecting with corporate and charitable leaders across the country.

This past weekend was spent in Tucson, where we met with numerous non-profit officials, social entrepreneurs, and new strategic partners. Here’s a brief list of our new friends:

  • Beads of Courage – an incredible organization which distributes beads to children being treated for cancer throughout the world.
  • TreeHouse Farm – an organization which provides an unforgettable experience for children recovering from cancer treatment, serious burns, and congenital heart issues.
  • The Haven – extraordinary organization which provides substance abuse treatment and housing for men and women.
  • Arizona Oncology Foundation – a new organization which provides support programs for cancer patients and survivors.
  • One-on-One Mentoring – an organization which matchs caring adults with at-risk youth.
  • Pima Prevention Partnership – provides practical solutions to address both individual and community problems, particularly substance abuse related.

They were all introduced to our services, particularly our online gifting tool, GiftingWishes, and our BoardCheck assessment resource.

Saturday was spent in a retreat with one of our new strategic partners. This soon-to-be-launched company will provide job recruitment, leadership development, and career development opportunities to both college students and employers. Much more to follow soon.

It was just another amazing weekend. We hope it leads to many opportunities to continue helping enhance the philanthropic culture in the Old Pueblo. Plus, we may have even landed a new job for a Tucson resident!

Thank you, Tucson, for your hospitality, heat, and spectacular sunsets!

Umpqua Bank takes community involvement seriously


Just one year in the northern Nevada area, Umpqua Bank finds itself deeply rooted in community engagement. Whether it’s through gifts of financial and in-kind support, or volunteerism, the bank seeks to understand and meet the needs of its local communities. The bank has aligned its philosophy of community connectedness with its greater mission of being an outstanding financial leader. “We are actively shaping our neighborhoods and engaging with our neighbors through community giving and community action,” according to Rob Humphreys, Senior Vice President of the Reno Commercial Banking Center.

Umpqua Bank looks for programs that create opportunities for early childhood and K-12 youth that fulfill their educational experience, promote their well-being and inspire them to reach their full potential. The bank also supports community-based arts organizations that lend to the diversity and culture of our communities. Contributions are made to organizations that promote wellness and stability in our community, specifically in regard to the affordable housing and financial literacy needs of low-to-moderate income families. 

Community volunteerism is very important to the Umpqua corporate culture. In fact, Umpqua’s Connect Volunteer Network provides full-time associates 40 annual hours – paid and intended to be used during normal work hours – to volunteer with youth and community development organizations and schools. “Through our innovative volunteer network and giving programs we bring assistance to youth development and education, the arts and community development,” says Humphreys.

In the brief six months presence in the local market in 2010, bank officials logged 247 hours of volunteer service in the local area. Total giving for the year, which included the volunteerism, amounted to $61,185 in local support. “Our involvement figures for 2011 have already surpassed all of last year,” claims Cheryl Lord, Loan Assistant in the bank’s Moana location. To enhance its community ties, Umpqua’s local Commercial Banking Center secured the services of NPcatalyst to develop stronger community connections and link its officers to outstanding local nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about Umpqua Bank’s community involvement initiates, visit http://www.umpquabank.com/ or visit any of the three local stores and ask an Umpqua associate.

Creating an employee volunteer program


Businesses, large and small, have made financial contributions to non-profit, or community-benefit organizations, for many years. It wasn’t until recently that they began to increase their engagement…through volunteerism. Employee volunteer programs are becoming increasingly popular not just with large corporations, but small-to-mid-sized businesses seeking to enhance local communities and embark upon innovative business development initiatives.

Recognizing the trend, particularly through the number of inquiries we’re receiving to facilitate employee volunteer programs, here are simple suggestions to consider when developing a volunteer program at your business.

  • Have a sincere interest in creating change and making a difference as a company;
  • Solicit buy-in and support from executive leaders;
  • Hire an employee and/or select a consultant to create community connections as well as design and manage the program;
  • Set goals and objectives;
  • Consider offering special incentives, such as financial compensation, internal and public recognition, gift-for-hour donations;
  • Map existing employee connections, involvement, and interests;
  • Qualify organizations to ensure appropriate connections and validate purposes;
  • Track volunteer involvement;
  • Promote corporate to community engagement;
  • Evaluate employee volunteer program.


One task that’s not included, but is quite important, is to determine your expectations. Businesses which have identified and, more importantly, endorsed key expectations, such as those listed below, have developed successful employee volunteer programs.

  • Incorporate with core business and  corporate giving strategies
  • Create a healthier workforce
  • Deep understanding of employees;  strong relationships
  • Improve employee and job satisfaction; improved employee communication
  • Network by interfacing with community leaders
  • Show company and community pride
  • Enhance employee recruitment and retention
  • Recognize and address community needs; improve quality of life
  • Positively impact profitability – 81% of corporations focus their employee volunteer programs on core business functions


Community leadership goes far beyond simply making financial contributions. When businesses become actively engaged with community needs, causes, and organizations, incredible synergy is created and becomes contagious. End results include stronger workforces, community connections, and business-to-business alliances.

Think again if you find it strange that NPcatalyst, as a corporate giving consultant, is giving away the “secret sauce” to volunteer programming. It’s possible, but successful programs possess commitment, attention, and organization. This is precisely what volunteer program consultants, like NPcatalyst, provide to its corporate clients.

To learn more about creating a strong employee volunteer program at your business, contact NPcatalyst at info@NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

JD Benefit Services hires NPcatalyst


Reno, Nev.— JD Benefit Services, a Reno-based insurance agency, has hired NPcatalyst to provide community engagement solutions, highlighted by a strategic community and charitable giving model.

“We’ve proudly served many clients throughout all of Nevada for over 20 years and, in that time, made significant contributions to many charitable organizations which strengthen our communities”, says Steve Dalinis, president of JD Benefit Services. We feel that it’s now time to align our community leadership efforts with our business strategies.”

Recognizing the benefits associated with an improved giving plan, the JD Benefit Services executive seek to create strong connections in the communities where their clients live and work.

“The solutions tend to reduce staff time and costs on mundane activities, while enhancing relationships with community and charitable investments”, according to Pete Parker, managing partner of the Reno-based philanthropic solutions firm. “With Steve and his team, we expect to integrate “giving” as part of their overall corporate mission and, at the same time, implement procedures which streamline all community engagement activity.”

For more information about this project, contact NPcatalyst at www.NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

Volunteerism…A Great Sport

Originally posted on 5/15/09 at http://parkerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/volunteerism-a-great-sport/.

Volunteerism…A Great Sport

I’m a sports fanatic, so am continually looking at the benefits of teamwork, strategy and “sports”manship and comparing it to the non-profit community. To me, there are a ton of similarities. The biggest, in my opinion, can be teamwork. Assembling a group of people, perhaps from varying segments of society, together to focus on a single goal can be extremely fun and effective.
This week alone, I’ve presented the topic of volunteerism to three different groups of people. In all, I spoke to over 100 new “friends” on a topic very close to my heart…a topic which directly answers community concerns. The energy I get from preparing these presentations, I hope, is obvious when I share my message.


Volunteerism, particularly to a newbie, can be tough to approach, thus intimidating. There are many people who say they want to volunteer, but have a hard time stepping outside their comfort zone and offering the help. There are others who have no problem offering, but have a tough time finding an organization that fits them. Don’t get disgruntled…you’re wanted and needed!


In a presentation to 25 young professional women, I equated finding the right volunteer opportunity or organization for them, to dating. “Sometimes you need to weed through the crap before you find the one”, was my exact statement. Thankfully, I didn’t scare any of them away. The fact remains, the beauty behind this path is that you learn a great deal, so when you find a suitable organization, the puzzle piece fits even better.


Having been a volunteer for over half my life (yes, I’m an X’er), I’m still trying to find my way through many volunteer opportunities. Perhaps I serve too much, but it’s an incredibly special and huge part of my life. Thinking about it today at a volunteer workshop, I guesstimated that I work an average 75 hours a week and serve an additional 40-50; the rest is applied to my kids, running and sleeping (hardly). That’s MY balance; which I truly value, cherish and accept.


Living in Reno, Nevada, I find that volunteerism is lower than allowable. Digging around a bit, I learned that the state of Nevada ranks last in volunteerism at a 17.7% rate…thanks only to 25% of residents in Reno/Sparks. Even then, only 26.2% of our nation’s residents volunteer their time. I’m not satisfied …shouldn’t we all try to do something? Sure, perhaps it’s our tracking mechanism, of which can be challenged (and improved), but it’s an indication that we can do more.


Generally speaking, communities do not have efforts embracing volunteer matching or introductions. There are many volunteer centers, but most manage more than seek. When you have a large community need to recruit key volunteers, yet no mechanism in place to meet the need, nothing happens. This can easily lead to board stagnation and apathy, organizational breakdown or misdirection and loss of beneficiary impact.


I’m always asked why someone would volunteer. Though the list is long, here’s a basic summary:

  • Help others
  • Make a difference
  • Find purpose
  • Enjoy a meaningful conversation
  • Connect with your community
  • Find purpose
  • Enjoy a meaningful conversation
  • Connect with your community
  • Feel involved
  • Contribute to a cause that you care about
  • Use your skills in a productive way
  • Develop new skills
  • Promote your business
  • Meet new people
  • Explore new areas of interest
  • Meet good people
  • Learn how to interact with others
  • Impress your mom
  • Impress yourself
  • Expand your horizons
  • Help find a new job or career
  • Get out of the house
  • Make new friends
  • Strengthen your resume
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Develop business leads


I admit that I found this list…and added a few, but my personal favorite isn’t on there. I love my community, wherever that community happens to be. Right now, it’s in Northern Nevada. Regardless, the ultimate reason I volunteer is to see a smile. Might sound hokey to some, but if someone’s hoisting a smile, it likely means that the person is enjoying the moment and/or quite possibly has a job, home, healthy diet, circle of family and friends, and positive outlook. That’s all it takes for me.


I’m also frequently asked how someone can volunteer their time. While it seems easy (and it is), it can be unnerving. I usually dig deeper and ask about their interests, skill sets, passions, family histories, wishes and time availability. From here, I can usually identify a handful of organizations and volunteer roles they can pursue. As you can imagine, I’m actively seeking volunteer opportunities for a handful of people as we speak. Fortunately, I have a set of criteria with which to work. With over 2,000 non-profit organizations in Northern Nevada, this can prove to be quite a search.


Naturally, I point everyone to www.volunteermatch.org as a starting point. In some areas, like Northern California, VolunteerMatch is a huge resource. As for Northern Nevada, we’re just getting it built (but keep checking!). Another source of information can come through friends, family, employers, co-workers, media; heck, the nearby grocery clerk. If this doesn’t work, they can always contact me. I’ll drop everything to make a connection. Hooking the right person with the right organization can really be another gift that keeps giving!


If you’re looking for your first or next volunteer opportunity, check your local volunteer center, go to VolunteerMatch or simply contact me. Volunteerism is a ton of fun and provides tremendous value to you and the organization or, more importantly, the end beneficiary.