On May 1, 2012, Dassault Systèmes launched its first ever Day of Service at its new Boston campus. More than 200 employees were involved in over 15 volunteer activities in the community and at the office. Activities included preparing and serving meals to the homeless, painting murals with children at the Waltham Boys and Girls club, sorting food at the Greater Boston Food Bank, writing letters to soldiers abroad, and harvesting crops at local farms, to name just a few. According to Janet Nicholas, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Dassault, the success in getting the service day off the ground is largely attributable to Building Impact, a local nonprofit that provides volunteer and giving opportunities for individuals and companies in the Boston area.
Dassault Systèmes has four focus areas for its corporate citizenship initiatives: education, health, environment, and local need. The service day made it possible for Dassault to address the local need component. Nicholas explained that choosing to partner with Building Impact was an easy decision because there was a small window of time to plan the first service day. In addition, having just moved into its new Boston campus in Waltham, Mass., the company was unsure of the volunteering and giving outlets available in the area. Partnering with Building Impact (BI) allowed Dassault Systèmes to leverage BI’s existing network of qualified organizations.
Dassault Systèmes first came to know Building Impact several years ago when the landlord of the multi-tenant office building in Concord, Mass., where one Dassault Systèmes organization was based, had contracted with Building Impact to offer multi-tenant, on-site community involvement opportunities such as coat drives, food drives, and back to school backpack programs. However, once Dassault Systèmes had consolidated all its facilities in the new single-tenant Boston campus in October 2011, the company approached Building Impact to discuss how the two organizations might partner to deliver even more service opportunities to Dassault Systèmes’ employees at their new campus.
The team was impressed by Building Impact’s energy, professionalism and strength of relationships with local nonprofits. According to Nicholas, “Working with Building Impact allowed Dassault Systèmes to quickly build our network of nonprofit partners in our new location. This let us offer a variety of volunteering opportunities to match the skills and interests of our employees.”
Employees had ample opportunity to engage in activities for the service day. The company designated team leaders for each service opportunity and those leaders managed the logistics of the activity. Among other responsibilities, team leaders organized their respective teams, distributed day of service T-shirts, took photographs to commemorate the day and coordinated feedback from team members. To participate, employees registered for volunteer activities through Building Impact’s website. One aspect of the Day of Service that made participation more convenient was the fact that employees had the option to either go out into their surrounding communities or stay in the office to take part.
The partnership with Building Impact proved to be a cost effective way for Dassault Systèmes to carry out its community involvement initiatives. In addition to coordinating service activities, Building Impact worked with each of the local nonprofits involved to translate the outcomes of employee volunteering into meaningful metrics that Dassault Systèmes can use to track its impact in the community. Building Impact also conducted post-service surveys of employees to gauge their satisfaction with the events.
As a result of the success of this partnership, Dassault Systèmes plans an ongoing relationship with Building Impact and will turn to the organization as a source of advice and guidance in accomplishing future community outreach initiatives. Cheryl Brown, project leader for the Dassault Systèmes Day of Service, added “We’re looking forward to our next Day of Service with Building Impact on October 11. We’ve only just begun to realize the potential for this partnership.”