SILC 2022: The Power of Presence and Community

For the first time in three years, we were able to gather our customers, partners, and staff in person to celebrate the social good community during our annual Social Impact Leadership Conference (SILC). After a jam-packed three days filled with meaningful connections, thought-provoking sessions, and plenty of Texas fun, it can often be difficult to process the abundance of inspiration and ideas generated during our time together. As a result, we asked our very own Pete Karns, General Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility to reflect on this year’s event and share his key takeaways. 

Reflecting on SILC 2022

The power of presence and community was in full force last week at our Social Impact Leadership Conference.  For the first time since 2019, we had the opportunity and privilege to be together, and I’m grateful to all who took advantage of the occasion. It was an opportunity to reflect on the past few years; challenges, resiliency, change, impact, pace, and more. Frankly, it was an opportunity to be grateful for the work of our customers and their employees, our teammates, our partners, our nonprofit stakeholders, and the work of our industry as a whole. 

We achieved our conference theme of Connected Impact. New connections were made and many were reestablished—across industries, common locations, and causes with nonprofit stakeholders and new teammates at Bonterra. We also looked at and explored impact from a variety of directions, diverse experiences, and perspectives. It truly was a powerful industry discussion—one that will and must continue. And on that note, we explored the rise and importance of ‘belonging’ in the workplace—an equally critical topic for our industry to focus on and improve.

I’m often asked what my major takeaways were, and if we learned anything new. Here are a few of my early perspectives.

  1.  Program (and funding) equity, for both engagement and grantmaking, is increasingly important from the perspective of all stakeholders regardless of income, location, technology access, role, etc. 
  2. Our focus on the end-to-end process, inclusive of nonprofits, is yielding results. Therefore, we must keep it up with product capabilities and enable more dialog between all parties to drive efficiency while supporting evolving funding, security, and data requirements. 
  3. The pace of change for our clients continues to accelerate across multiple dimensions. I was thrilled to hear the comments on our Insights analytics platform as well as the tremendous interest in adopting it. In addition, our focus on program content and evolving the user experience for our administrators remains a strong focus. These, along with other investments in our product and service model, are directed at increasing agility for our clients.
  4. The power of community is real. While I’m grateful for virtual technology, I remain convinced that in-person engagement, when done safely, remains highly effective for collaboration and challenging discussions. 
  5. Palpable excitement for our evolution to Bonterra. Many expressed their excitement and anticipation for our vision and strategy, our in-process and upcoming investments, our new teammates and leaders, and our foundation in impact and purpose.
  6. The importance of taking time for celebration. By our collective nature, we are focused on outcomes and attacking challenges and needs. It was truly inspiring to hear and see many of our attendees celebrating both professional and personal success. It’s encouraging, empowering, and recharging. Our keynote honed in on this point as well—and it’s one of my main personal commitments to improve upon.

Social Impact Awards

During our time together at SILC, another one of the many highlights was the opportunity for our customers, partners, and staff to connect and share their social impact achievements. While there was no shortage of inspiring stories and impactful programs to be discussed, we took this opportunity to highlight a few during our Social Impact Awards session. Congratulations to this year’s recipients! We applaud your creativity, innovation, and continued commitment to driving maximum social impact. Check out their stories below! 

Elevate Communities Award: Target

In the Summer of 2020, Target established its Racial Equity Action and Change (REACH) committee which is aligned with four primary focus areas: Helping Target’s Black team members build meaningful careers and experience success at every level, creating an environment where Black guests feel more welcome and see themselves represented at Target, finding new ways to support Black communities across the country, and working with policymakers on key issues that impact Black Americans.

Since its launch, REACH has initiated important progress and further commitments. Target team members have provided 10,000 hours of pro bono consulting annually for Black and people-of-color-owned businesses in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, Chicago, and the Bay Area. Through its Target Scholars program, scholarships have been delivered to support 1,000 students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country, along with mentoring, internship opportunities, networking, and more throughout their college careers. And in 2021, Target announced an investment of $100 million through 2025 to help fuel economic prosperity in Black communities nationwide. Target’s program is an outstanding example of a multi-faceted approach to elevating communities.

Unlocking Efficiency Award: Disney

Through their Volunteer Grants program, Disney employees can turn their eligible hours of volunteer service into a financial contribution from the company to a charity of their choice. While many employees are eager to get involved, the most common request from their workforce was to offer their Disney Volunteer Grants (DVG) program year-round. Unfortunately, the bandwidth required to manage additional payment cycles was too great, which limited Disney’s ability to host a year-round initiative. To meet the needs of their workforce, Disney was able to shift significant focus toward strategy and change management by moving to the CyberGrants Disbursement Solution (CGDS) with more visible, transparent, and auditable disbursements. 

In early 2022, Disney delivered their employees a simplified, and value-focused version of their DVG program; open year-round and running on CGDS. With their unlocked efficiency, Disney is currently engaged in an effort to expand their CyberGrants system to manage their global volunteer programs to enable greater participation and employee engagement, thus, creating more impact!

Agility to Engage Award: Morgan Stanley

When it comes to responding to a disaster or crisis, the ability to implement programs quickly and effectively is key for supporting affected communities with critical aid. Over the past several years, the team at Morgan Stanley has seen tremendous success in standing up special initiatives in response to global crises or community-based needs. Their programs have ranged from COVID-19 and Racial Justice response initiatives to support for those affected by the earthquake in Haiti and tornadoes in the U.S. South and Midwest. Collectively, they resulted in thousands of engaged employees and millions in employee donations to organizations doing impactful work. Morgan Stanley continues to demonstrate remarkable agility to enable their employees in rapid response efforts.

Acting with Insights Award: PepsiCo

When it comes to advancing your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) outcomes, the ability to measure program impact and make data-driven decisions is key. In early 2022, the PepsiCo Foundation team partnered with CyberGrants to implement Insights with a vision of where, when, and how data can be utilized to create efficiencies and processes that increase the impact of their philanthropic investment. Although they’re in the early stages of their Insights journey, the PepsiCo Foundation team has been intentional to engage organizational stakeholders while collaborating with CyberGrants. They continue to push the boundaries of Insights and have been a catalyst for improvements for clients along the way. We applaud their innovation and forward-thinking, and for these reasons, we are proud to honor them with the Acting with Insights award.

Partner Innovation Award: E4E Relief and Cargill

In June 2020, Cargill launched the company’s Employee Disaster Relief Fund in partnership with E4E Relief to support employees around the world during times of catastrophic or personal disaster. This initiative was established to support the immediate needs of Cargill’s workforce during the COVID-19 crisis; it will also serve as a long-term resource for future events. The program established a formal process for employee support that has historically been provided on a more local scale. With the program in place, Cargill has a global centralized program for employees, businesses, and external stakeholders to contribute funds and a fair and equitable solution for employees to receive immediate support in a time of need. Through the pandemic, various weather disasters, and more recently, with impacted employees in Ukraine and Russia, Cargill is actively supporting employees with an innovative solution enabled by their forethought and in partnership with E4E Relief.

Service Project

One of our famed SILC traditions is the ability to work side-by-side during our annual service project. This year, we had the honor of partnering with National Angels whose mission is to create a community of supporters for children, youth, and families experiencing foster care. Together, we participated in their “Love Box” program. This initiative provides fostering families—caregivers, children in foster care, and biological/adopted children—with community and holistic support. Our customers, partners, and staff joined together in small groups to build a Love Box for a designated family. Each Love Box was filled with items tailored to their specific needs and a handwritten note of encouragement for each child. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collectively give back as a community was inspiring, meaningful, and fulfilling—the list goes on! 

Thank you to the team at National Angels for your unwavering commitment to supporting families experiencing foster care. We continue to be inspired by your work and thank you for partnering with us for SILC 2022! 

Looking Ahead

We are beyond grateful for the opportunity to (finally!) gather again in person for this year’s Social Impact Leadership Conference. As we leave SILC and look ahead, we’ll be launching new product capabilities along with new tools and best practice guides, and evolutions to our service model. Thanks again for attending, for connecting, and for inspiring all of us at Bonterra.

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