Thursday, January 14, 2016

Happy New Year!

by Erica West, 
Director, Corporate Engagement

The first of January is often seen as a time to reflect on the changes we want to make in our lives and a time we determine how to follow through on those changes. Repeatedly, I hear professionals in corporate and nonprofit businesses alike making resolutions to capture the illusive “work-life balance.” A concept which assumes that work and life are somehow polarized on opposite ends of some miserable seesaw. Subconsciously, it seems to imply that the more work we do, the less life we have. In her recent blog, VeraWorks founder Bea Bocclandro reminds us that we do not need to stay trapped on the work-life seesaw. Rather than trying to neutralize the stereotypical drudgery of work obligation we can change our approach, on a personal and corporate level, by applying social purpose to our corporate lives.

Companies have been embracing corporate social responsibility for over a decade, yet employee engagement continues to be a major challenge. Whether you are a small business with a one-person team or an international company with over 5,000 employees engaging employees is a recipe that is still being perfected. Yet the most important ingredient continues to be meaningful and purposeful giving. By helping business broaden their social mission, the Bergen Volunteer Center connects talented and compassionate professionals and individuals to social causes that strengthen our shared community.

For over 15 year the Bergen Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council has given its corporate members’ employees a chance to direct genuine change by collaborating with nonprofits and addressing critical social issues. Our member’s collective time, skills, and resources has offered a brighter future for nearly 3,500 children and families per year. Whether it’s introducing a child to the joy of reading through Books in a Bag, educating high school teens about career goals through the Life After High School workshop, collecting food items and harvesting produce for food insecure families through Brown Bag Buddies, or serving the homeless at Project Homeless Connect, they are making a significant difference in the lives of those touched by these programs.

While group volunteering and company-wide donations carried out by the Business Volunteer Council, are an essential part of purposeful engagement, skill based volunteering adds an even higher level of engagement and purpose for employee volunteers.

BoardLink and SkillsLink, two new programs offered by the Volunteer Center in 2016, connect corporate professionals' unique skills and talents to deserving nonprofits, allowing them to fulfill important gaps in their infrastructure. The deep sense of purpose obtained by offering personal or professional strengths to help others is extraordinarily powerful.

So for this New Year consider changing your resolution. Rather than searching for work-life balance, try putting life back into your work. Then maybe we will subsequently find the balance we’ve all been seeking.


The Business Volunteer Council gives businesses a platform to successfully engage employees through volunteer service and workplace giving.

BoardLink is a highly specialized matching service that provides your nonprofit board with access to business executives and professionals who are trained and referred based on your need for particular skills, and each candidate’s specific interests.

SkillsLink matches your nonprofit with local corporate talent strategically targeting their skills to complete short term volunteer projects for nonprofits.

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