While many business professionals would love to volunteer, they often find it difficult to add even one more activity to their ever-growing to-do lists. Three local business leaders shared how their organizations promote volunteerism at an event called Faces of Community Philanthropy on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at the Enterprise Mill Events Center. The panel discussion was part of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Women in Business Program. The panelists for the event were: Marissa Smith, Senior Vice President and Market Executive for Bank of America Augusta-Aiken, Jason Cuevas, Vice President for Georgia Power’s east region and Aimee Hall, Executive Director of SafeHomes.
Smith – who has worked for Bank of America for 16 years, says her company has created various programs that encourage employees to dedicate their time and talents to local nonprofits. For example, “We pay our employees up to two hours weekly to volunteer,” she states. The bank also donates $500 to eligible charities for every 50 hours an employee volunteers with a $1,000 maximum per employee. Through its Matching Gifts program, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation matches employee donations of up to $5,000 to eligible nonprofits. But there are other ways to help nonprofits that don’t involve giving money. “If you don’t have the monetary resources available, maybe you can lead a campaign,” Smith explains.
Cuevas says Georgia Power strongly encourages employees to give back by volunteering their time. “It’s part of our leadership expectations,” he states. “We don’t really struggle to get involvement.” The company’s community involvement strategy has three key components: environment, education, and empowered communities. “We try to focus on our strategy, but we allow the employee base to choose what speaks to them,” Cuevas explains. “COVID changed a lot of the dynamics, but I’m optimistic that we will see that engagement.” Like Bank of America, the Georgia Power Charitable Foundations supports a variety of nonprofits and community organizations throughout the state.
Hall says SafeHomes relies on both charitable donations and community volunteers to fulfill its mission to provide support for domestic violence victims. “For us, I find a lot of value in people who can come help us with our fundraising events,” she states. “We welcome groups to come in and work with us cleaning or even feeding our residents.” SafeHomes always has many volunteers for its Christmas programs, but Hall explains they need help throughout the year. “We still need people to volunteer during those summer months,” she says. Local employees from many companies, such as ADP and Starbucks, regularly volunteer at the nonprofit.