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eBay Inc. Celebrates Success of Skills-Based Volunteerism Pilot

eBay Inc.’s Social Innovation team recently hosted an event in San Jose focused on skills-based volunteerism. The event celebrated the success of an early pilot program to connect employees with opportunities to help nonprofits through their unique areas of professional expertise and is hopefully just the start of what will be a long-term, ongoing program. The event brought together nonprofit partners (from organizations such as Grameen Foundation and Taproot Foundation), members of the eBay Inc. Learning & Development Organization, and executives (including Alan Marks, Brian Owens and Beth Axelrod).

eBay Inc. has known from its nonprofit partners that these organizations can sometimes struggle with the capacity to do larger projects that involve deep expertise in areas such as marketing, data analysis, HR and business strategy. And what they also knew is that the company has countless global employees who are subject matter experts and do these things every day who would also jump at the chance to use their skills for good. The Social Innovation team decided to test out this concept and partnered with four nonprofit organizations, many of them partners of The Opportunity Project.

The pilot projects ran four to five months each, with employees dedicating about five hours a week to the work. Three of the employee teams were in North America while the fourth was made up of employees in the Singapore office. The teams worked on projects ranging from a messaging strategy for Habitat for Humanity International, to a member engagement dashboard for the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (or ANDE). The results were extremely positive.

“We are thrilled with the outcomes from the pilot program and what our employees delivered. This type of work can have long-term impact for the organizations,” said Julie Vennewitz-Pierce who manages the program.

Beth Axelrod, eBay Inc.’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, added that this type of volunteering boosts employee engagement and professional development, allowing employees to further hone skills learned at work. Pilot partners from Habitat for Humanity International and other nonprofits also attested to the success of the early programs. One of them commented, “The team’s skills propelled our work forward in ways we could never have imagined (or afforded) without the skills-based volunteer engagement.”

The Social Innovation team will take what they learned during the pilot and make improvements to move forward with a more long-term program. “There is a lot of value in having a skills-based (pro bono) program for our nonprofit partners as well as our employees,” noted Vennewitz-Pierce. “During the Pilot, we saw how the program not only enriched employees’ work experience and cultivated cross-BU collaboration but it also gave employees an opportunity to expand their own skills sets and learn things that will directly benefit their work at eBay. We also brought a tremendous amount of value to some of our closer nonprofit partners.”

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