Entry Category: Special Event Planning, Community Event (one-time)
Entry Title and Organization: Withum Week Of Caring, WithumSmith+Brown
Award Received: Silver
Challenges: A major challenge was figuring out how to organize 450+ staff in 12 offices across six states. To do so, we established a Community Outreach Group (COG), with one or two staff from each office selected as the point person by the respective partner-in-charge of that office. One would be the office’s marketing coordinator; the other an accounting professional.
Description: Giving back to the communities we serve is an important part of our firm’s culture, and has been since its inception in 1974. We wanted to create an event that would prove impactful on a large scale to benefit the non-profit community by leveraging our entire staff during a short time frame. Working with our marketing team, we developed a strategy to initiate a firm-wide volunteer effort.
Strategy: Community Outreach Group members coordinated their office volunteer efforts, responsible for confirming dates, times, locations, duties and slotting in the volunteers appropriately, as well as documenting the events with photos and videos.
Tactic: Through email or by phone, COG members worked with the volunteer coordinators of many different charitable organizations – some clients, some not – in creating opportunities which would prove helpful to the organization, such as painting, sorting or preparing food, packing Thanksgiving dinner baskets, or reading books to children. WS+B staff wore Withum-blue “Community Cares” t-shirts to these events, which they appreciated as the shirts visually unified us as
one true team.
Results: In 2011, our 400+ staff at the time assisted 30 not-for-profits. In 2012, with over 450 professionals participating, the staff assisted 40 different charitable organizations, including children’s hospitals, social service organizations, animal shelters and soup kitchens. With better tracking mechanisms in place the second year via our Time & Billing system, we were able to determine the total time volunteered, which reached nearly 1,600 hours. After Thanksgiving, we received calls, emails and thank you notes from many of the organizations we served, thanking us for our efforts. Their kind words of appreciation validate the entire initiative. Withum Week of Caring received press coverage in Accounting Today, and WABC-TV covered the effort during its dinner-time news program on Thanksgiving day. We also garnered two prestigious awards: 1) The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Excellence in Philanthropy – Outstanding Corporation award, which was presented at the AFPs annual awards dinner in May 2012; and 2) New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s (NJBIA) Awards for Excellence in Public Service in October 2012.