Leveraging the Power of Volunteers

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) and four partner Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have set an ambitious goal: reach 1 million volunteer hours by 2021. Lucky for us, they're doubling-down on efforts to encourage employees to use their Volunteer Matching Dollars program.

“Showing up for our communities and making a positive impact in the lives of our members is part of our commitment to Illinois - as an employer, business leader and as your friends and neighbors,” said Shelley Long, manager, Community Relations, BCBSIL. “Our employees tirelessly giving of their time to support the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry allows us to address hunger and food insecurity, which is one of the key focus areas of our Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative.”

When BCBSIL employees volunteer at a nonprofit, they can log their hours to be matched with company funds and the impact is significant! Last month we received a check from BCBSIL totaling $1,160. The month before that we received one for $920. To put that in context, the average donation we received last year was $250. 

"Volunteer matching programs like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois' give us an amazing opportunity to leverage our resources," says Teri Miller, Director of Development at Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. "We're not always aware which volunteer made that gift happen, but their impact is tremendous."

Programs like this allow us to maximize our most valuable resource – our volunteers--and provide a serious advantage in our efforts to end hunger. That check we received – the one for $1,160 – is enough to provide 3,500 meals to the families we serve. And in a beautiful circle of generosity, the volunteers who helped generate that check helped sort, stack, and distribute the food that their hours helped purchase.

"I am inspired by the spirit, energy and commitment of all our volunteers,” says Teri, "it's amazing that volunteers have this power to give in so many ways – time, talent, and money – to organizations they care about."

Does your employer offer an matching gift for the hours you volunteer? Ask your HR department to find out if your time spent here (or dollars donated) can be matched and magnify your impact!