Article originally authored by Angela Schuller, SAP Communications Specialist.
Earlier this summer, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team launched a pilot that enabled employees to apply their core skills to three non-profit organizations in the Bay Area. Closely related to SAP’s Social Sabbatical Program, the Engaging for Local Impact (ELI) initiative gives employees an opportunity to consult with non-profits to help solve their biggest business challenges. In just six weeks, eight SAP employees made major inroads to help improve their local communities. With SAP’s focus on youth, education and entrepreneurship, the ELI program is skills-based volunteering at its very best. Read on to learn more about what three SAP employees did to help some local non-profits run simpler…and better.
Getting lost in the tracking
Cheryl Smith, Senior Information Developer with the Governance, Risk, and Compliance group, has always been fascinated by how non-profits work (she was recently elected to a non-profit’s Board of Directors), so she leapt at the opportunity participate in the ELI program. Working with SAP employees Randi Bethel and Jim Gold at the Foundation for a College Education, a group increasing the number of students of color from East Palo Alto (and similar communities) who graduate from a four-year college or university, the SAP team discovered that the FCE staff was struggling to manage their data as a means of improving their programming and pursuing new funding sources. Closely analyzing the data points, the SAP Team discovered that FCE’s existing software could be used much more efficiently. “The database they were using was the right one, but identifying how to adequately track the information to make an impact was really a challenge for them,” Cheryl said. Based on the SAP team’s recommendations, the FCE staff was able to almost immediately begin entering information directly into the system, versus using multiple spreadsheets. “We put together an implementation plan on how to further reconfigure fields. We also showed them how they could potentially use the free download of SAP Lumira to drive their points home.” Cheryl and the team left FCE after a total of only eight working days. “It was intense,” Cheryl laughed.
Waking up and smelling the marketing plan
Greg Miura, Senior Director of Program Management for Employee Central Research and Development, understands the challenge of non-profits who do so much to improve their communities but often lack the resources to put together a targeted marketing approach when rolling out a new strategy. Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center (REC), whose mission is to empower and increase the entrepreneurial capacities of socially and economically diverse women and men to create new businesses (and jobs) in their communities, is a relatively small non-profit but it makes a big impact in the five cities it currently serves. With a new strategic plan blessed by their Board, REC didn’t know how to put the plan into practice. Greg and the other members of the SAP team (Vickie Brown and Thomas Odenwald) immediately responded. “We prioritized two of the six program areas that would have the biggest impact: PR and marketing and program development and encouraged REC to cascade their learnings. Knowing the strategy refresh was geared primarily to identify new funding sources, we wanted to help them build an unified marketing plan that could be separated out by program area,” Greg explained. First up on the agenda? Leveling the programmatic real estate on the REC website. “If you look at their website now, it highlights the training schedule for one facility. With different sites handling different training areas, the current website design actually minimizes the impact of what the organization is really doing,” Greg shared. While REC is busy revamping their website, they are also considering the recommendations the SAP team gave on putting a core curriculum into place. Giving entrepreneurs the same skill set, Greg remarked, really levels the playing field and can simplify things for REC.
Recognizing the need to become a corporate storyteller
Marketing, has always been inspired to do things outside of her regular job responsibilities, so working with Resources for Community Development (RCD), even for a short time, was a no-brainer. Providing equitable housing for families living outside of Berkeley, RCD indicated they had major concerns with growing their market and their strategy. In her initial discussions with them, Savita and fellow SAP employee Pam Dunn realized that while RCD recognized the importance of marketing in their overall plan, they actually didn’t have a corporate story or a plan in place to support it. “We discovered that when RCD talked to their stakeholders, they told a story, but there was no consistency in the messaging they delivered. They also didn’t change their message based who they were talking to,” Savita recalled. “We put together a marketing plan for them and steered the conversation to the importance of knowing their audiences.” In the end, Savita and the SAP team worked with a local agency to put the marketing strategy into place and built profiles and messaging tailored to the various audiences with whom RCD regularly speaks. Fingers crossed for some new funding sources.
The success of the ELI pilot program has been astounding. With another pilot set to launch this Fall in Berlin, the CSR team is hopeful the program becomes a mainstay in SAP’s corporate culture. “It’s amazing how involved employees got in their communities. We’ve gotten great feedback from all the organizations involved. In fact, when we convened the teams and the non-profits to share highlights from ELI, each organization commented they took away even more from simply listening to what others were able to put into place,” said Kate Morgan, Interim Head of CSR in NA. “What an incredible testament to the skills our employees bring to the table each and every day.”
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