International Philanthropist and Guest Speaker Gives his Thoughts on the Volunteering Effort

Jeff Hoffman is the principal at Jeff Hoffman and Associates, a USA based Global Philanthropy & Civic Engagement firm. Jeff has been involved in volunteering since the mid 1980's whilst employed by Walt Disney. The list of achievements is too numerous to mention here but in that time he has overseen the charity works of Disney to provide millions of dollars per year to aid both individuals and International Foundations, established the very successful Disney VoluntEARS program and even at a lower scale provided free tickets to Disneyland for those involved in various volunteer activities.
 
The past 4 years has seen Jeff Has run his own business helping organisations around the world to arrive at win-win outcomes.
 
I asked Jeff a few questions relating to his organisation's role in the volunteer effort.
 
Q: What are the major volunteering issues relevant to you in your role and how do these impact volunteering in your region?
 
A:  As the world becomes smaller and the issues become more complex, business can, and has a responsibility to, play a bigger part is the overall success of society. Commerce is core to a society’s success.  So is civil society. Too many people and companies abdicate their responsibilities too others creating the morass that we see in highly developed nations to the developing regions. We live in eco systems where all components must be fully participating to see a world that is sustainable. Volunteering and civic engagement is critical. Employees, students, seniors, youth, families, individuals and neighbors participating, caring and working towards shared value.
 
Q: What truths/challenges/opportunities are there for volunteering, globally?
 
A:  2015 is a critical year on the world stage. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched.  Issues range from education, climate change, and gender equality to poverty alleviation.  Unlike the MDGs targeted to developing countries, the SDGs are just as relevant in Detroit as they are in Mumbai. Volunteering must be central to addressing these issues.
 
Q: What are some unique insights about your organisation that you can share?
 
A: We live and do business in a world that is full of challenges and at the same time full of hope, promise and opportunity. Citizen-centered solutions can be a most powerful catalyst for positive social change. Jeff Hoffman & Associates helps businesses, organizations and individuals re-imagine how they can effectively be part of the solution. With singular global experience in corporate citizenship, philanthropy, community relations, volunteerism and cause-related marketing, we will work collaboratively with you to craft a high-impact plan for your giving… giving of money, time, intellect and voice.
 
Q: What outcomes can delegates expect to gain from attending your session at the 23rd IAVE World Volunteer Conference at the Gold Coast in September this year?
 
A: I am presenting two sessions, one titled; “Partnerships: The Exciting New Frontier with Stronger Outcomes” is a TEDtalk style presentation. The other is a 45 minute workshop titled; “Tell a powerful story about your corporate community involvement. Here is a bit about each session… 
 
Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, just as people and NGOs do. This provides both opportunities and challenges for partnerships. There has been a lack of mutual respect and understanding in many “partnerships.”   These are really “business deals” and not a true partnership. Many businesses have not realized that they can learn from NGOs. Many NGOs follow the money and not necessarily work with businesses in a way that truly advances their mission. Mutually beneficial outcomes should be the hallmark of a good partnership. But this takes more work on the front end, but it is worth it. 
 
Many companies have excellent employee volunteer programs doing amazing work in the community. This, combined with their philanthropy, cause marketing and other programs contribute to a communities wellbeing. It also can have a positive impact on the community. Many fine engagements go unnoticed and are under reported. This is a missed opportunity not only for the business but also for the NGO. In this communications based world, a simple tweet or Facebook post can be the difference between a positive impression to stakeholders and a skeptical view of the unknown. This workshop goes back to the basics of good communications, and journalistic techniques, and applies those to today’s complex media world. We will look at storytelling, segmented by stakeholders, with a “communicate for action” strategy. From the company’s internal communications, to external media outlets, to the NGOs newsletter and blog, we’ll look at the tools to tell the right story, to the right people, at the right time, to get the desired results.
 
Q: What role does social media play in your area of work and how relevant is it to your organisation?
 
A: Yes, Social Media is particularly important. You can get information out immediately and ten it is easy for people to share with their friends and colleagues. It has its pitfalls too. But overall Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. can be a value add. My communications workshop will discuss this further
 
Q: Can you share any experiences or observations of young volunteers evolving in your organisation?
 
A: Millennials in the workplace are moving up the ladder as baby boomers retire. Employee expectations are changing, with a strong desire to work for socially responsible companies. Communication is changing, and in addition to being immediate, it is more transparent. Consumer purchasing decisions are increasingly being based on reputation… reputation based on how a company operates with integrity. The broader concepts of corporate social responsibility contribute, but often the face of a company is through its community investments and in particular, workplace volunteering. .
 
Q: Who are you looking forward to sharing your stories with at the conference in September?
 
A: His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove. In his role representing the Queen, he has a unique view of Australia’s civil society. I also look forward to meeting Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of United Nations Volunteers, as he is relatively new to his role and our paths have not yet crossed. And I love seeing old friends and meeting new colleagues.
 
Thank you Jeff for the wonderful insights into your organisation.

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15 August Standard registration open 
10 September  Online registration closes 
15-20 September Conference runs