Sustainable Brands Issue in Focus
Sponsored by:
CHANNELS    |    Behavior Change      Leadership      Products & Design      Supply Chain      Marketing & Comms      New Metrics    |    MORE

How to Inspire, Equip and Mobilize People to Take Action, Give Back

Clif Bar employees in Twin Falls, Idaho, rebuilding trails and picking up trash during the Companywide Service Day at Centennial Park. Clif Bar is one of the corporate citizens that make up the Points of Light Corporate Service Council. | Image credit: Clif Bar & Company

In the midst of the “purpose revolution,” people are increasingly taking company values to heart when it comes to purchasing and employment decisions (and this is especially true when it comes to young consumers and job seekers).

“While there is a crisis of trust in our institutions and leaders in our nation and the world, we want to remind people that values, trust and purpose have their roots in service,” says Natalye Paquin, CEO of Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. “This renewed call to serve neighbors and causes is the antidote to cynicism and the foundation for stronger communities. We want civic culture and service to be one and the same — for every citizen to be inspired, equipped and mobilized with a sense of purpose to take action in the world and solve the problems in their communities and beyond,” Paquin told Sustainable Brands.

“As continuous societal shifts occur, we want to create a culture in which living a civic life is the norm, not the exception,” she added. “A civic culture is one where we may not always all agree, but where we acknowledge the strength in our differences, collaborate and unite to solve society’s challenges — and this revolution starts with volunteerism and service.”

Points of Light pursues its mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to be citizens “in the fullest sense” through several initiatives, events and campaigns, and a network of more than 200 affiliate volunteer centers in 37 countries.


Points of Light challenges everyone to be the sparks that ignite civic culture – in other words, take action on the causes that matter to you and inspire others to do the same.

According to Jennifer Lawson, President for Innovation, “[Companies can] celebrate the power of service or employees’ civic engagement and achievements by nominating employees for a Daily Point of Light Award or utilizing the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize employee volunteers.”

For its part, Points of Light highlights and recognizes the 50 most community-minded companies in the nation each year – as determined by a national survey – through its Civic 50 initiative. By benchmarking and celebrating best practices, it provides a framework for good corporate citizenship and showcases how companies can use their time, skills and other resources to improve the quality of life in their communities. The Civic 50 is a roadmap for how companies can turn good intentions into sound business practices.


Points of Light further advances corporate volunteerism through its global Corporate Service Council, which helps companies build and connect to leading volunteer programs. This is their primary channel for equipping companies and their employees to take action – and an area where they can drive large-scale change.

“Collective action plays an important role in addressing large-scale problems, as it helps to focus and drive a larger volume of talent and energy. For example, recent natural and man-made disasters in the United States showed how important volunteers and the talent of corporate volunteers are in lending a hand to support disaster recovery,” Lawson explains. “So, the Council has established a working group to make sure we are maximizing the value of corporate participation and collaboration.”

Sponsored by
Points of Light.

Participating in the Corporate Service Council can help companies build stronger corporate response integration and preparation for disaster recovery volunteering, integrate existing corporate-led initiatives and employee purpose, and more. For example, Council members Food Lion and General Mills have established programs to address hunger and food security in the communities where they do business. With ambitious goals to reduce the incidence of hunger in the United States and around the world, both companies are working to strengthen food security through employee talents, industry leadership and corporate resources.

Lawson says, “The Council’s learning communities and gatherings spark innovative thinking and inspire companies and employees to volunteer in ways that deliver transformative and lasting value. The Council fosters and develops corporate thought leaders and connects them with experts in academia, business and civil society to advance the corporate citizenship field on issues that include creating effective employee volunteer programs, using volunteering to reach HR goals, scaling and deepening global impact through service and more.”

In another example, pharmaceutical company AbbVie led its fourth annual “Week of Possibilities” last year in partnership with Points of Light. Points of Light’s affiliate centers around the globe delivered a total of 49 projects focused on effective educational programs and building stronger communities across 12 countries, engaging almost 1,400 employees and contributing 6,025 hours of service.


Just as it catalyzes efforts with corporate partners, Points of Light also mobilizes individuals through its Service Unites conference. It is the world’s largest service-related event, bringing together more than 2,500 non-profit, government, business and civic leaders to share great ideas, resources and connections needed to galvanize the power of people to create change globally.

Taking place June 18-20, 2018 in Atlanta, the Service Unites conference will once again provide an opportunity for thousands to come together to collaborate and ensure the volunteer sector continues to grow and innovate in this rapidly changing world. This year’s event will feature 12 learning paths and more than 100 workshops led by practitioners and experts to build the skills and expertise of CSR, higher education, non-profit and faith community leaders.

Lawson summed up her advice for those who would like to inspire, equip and mobilize people to be engaged citizens: “Join the Corporate Service Council and come to Service Unites; and above all, create an authentic culture of service within your organization.”

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

  Sign up for SB Newsletters
Get the latest personalized news, tools, and virtual media on a wide range of sustainable business topics in your inbox.


User login