Creating equity is about how we engage with the world and the community around us. In that spirit, Sprout Social kickstarted an initiative that goes beyond our internal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education, and ensures we’re using our privilege and resources to support the communities we live in.
Since officially launching Sprout Serves in fall 2019, team members across the organization have rallied to reach out to nonprofits, volunteer their time and make an impact on the communities they live in.
How we made volunteering a priority
The same way that workplaces provide time off for voting or other civic duties, we saw it fit to provide time for community involvement. Whether you’re volunteering as a team in the middle of the workday, or on your own with an organization you care about, Sprout realizes it’s our job to make that easy to accomplish.
Once we had an understanding that community involvement is an important part of Sprout’s culture, we had to consider resources. People want to get involved, but often don’t know where to start. With the support of our executive and DEI leadership teams, we formed a committee of Sprout team members who wanted to take on the task of implementing a structure and resource hub that would help every employee feel confident in volunteering, no matter what part of the globe they reside in.
By prioritizing open communication, we ensure our team is constantly aware of opportunities they can get involved in. Team members are talking to each other, sharing causes they’re passionate about and discovering opportunities they hear about through the grapevine—all toward a unified goal of supporting underrepresented causes and communities.
What we’ve accomplished so far
At the start of 2020, we set a goal to hit 10,000 volunteer hours across our organization—then the pandemic hit. We had to shift our strategy and goals for this group so we could find new ways to impact our community in a virtual way. With new virtual plans in place, Sprout has volunteered roughly 3,500 hours to date.
Before the pandemic, our team came together for causes spanning domestic violence to food scarcity to environmental good, and so much in between. In addition to monetary donations, we also joined virtual events and our Dublin office led their first service day, where they organized and put together care packages for those affected by homelessness in Ireland.
As we continue to share volunteering opportunities through our internal communication channels, we also give back to our communities through our annual Philanthropy Week. This week-long charitable effort is a chance for our team to come together and raise money for causes and charities we care deeply about. Like the rest of our plans, we shifted this year’s Philanthropy Week to be entirely virtual and focused on raising awareness for the ten charities we partnered with: Black Girls Code, Chicago Scholars, Howard Brown Health, Re: work training, BeLong To, Access Living, LauraLynn Children’s Hospice, Resilience, Erie Neighborhood House and Mary’s Place.
I’m excited to share that through our 2020 Philanthropy Week, we surpassed last year’s funds raised by 20% and, in total, raised $27,329—including a $8,000 bonus donation from Sprout. In addition, Morgan Stanley, one of the lead banks on our IPO, has pledged an additional $15,000 to this initiative. On the awareness front, our company’s social posts about these organizations had a total potential reach of more than 103,000 people. (These totals have been updated since this piece was originally published on October 27, 2020).
Navigating volunteer efforts amidst COVID-19 required a pivot from the in-person service we originally planned to organize. Therefore, the Sprout Serves committee became a resource to share a variety of volunteer opportunities that helped our community while supporting the health needs of our team. This included opportunities to support struggling local businesses, feed frontline workers, make masks for donation and participate in remote tutoring or mentoring.
In June 2020, our Black@Sprout business resource group, DEI advisory board and volunteer committee came together to guide a companywide day of action following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Our team dedicated the day to learning, acting and contributing towards a movement of allyship and active anti-racism via protesting, educational reading, government outreach and more. This work is ongoing and continuous—our company day of action was just one important step in our long-term commitment to DEI and service, and there is always more work to be done.
2021 and beyond
Ten thousand hours may have been our goal at the start of 2020, but that goal doesn’t reflect the impact of our efforts this year. The structure we’ve put in place, the relationships with nonprofits we’ve built and the values we’re instilling in our workforce will keep this effort alive and well, long past 10,000 hours.
In 2021, we’ll refine our mission statement and find creative ways to stay involved in our communities so we can continue to give back.