Corporate community engagement in action

September 26th, 2009

How the e-newsletter company Constant Contact works with their nonprofit bookstore neighbor More Than Words

By: Bob Nicoson and Sue LaChance*

More than Words provides empowering leadership and supportive employment opportunities for youth who are in foster care, court-involved, homeless, or out of school to prepare them for self-sufficiency as they transition to adulthood. Waltham-based Constant Contact, a leading provider of email marketing and online surveys for small organizations, has a long-standing relationship with More than Words, both as a service provider and as an ardent supporter.

While More than Words is a customer of Constant Contact’s email marketing tools, the relationship between the two organizations extends much deeper:

  • Constant Contact has hosted More than Words youth at its the Waltham headquarters to give them a glimpse of what a “day in the life” of the company, featuring some of the real world attributes of life in the corporate workforce. 
  • The company has initiated book drives and holiday-themed giving trees with donated items to benefit youth members in the More than Words program.
  • Most recently, the company participated in a day-long offsite for its leadership team who helped to put together office furniture for the second More Than Words bookstore slated to open in October.

Details on the leadership team service initiative:

In an effort to ensure that Constant Contact remains a great place to work, the leadership team is guided by two principles: developing and nurturing great managers and giving back to the communities in which it does business. The leadership team, which includes anyone who manages at least one staffer, has grown to more than 100 people. When searching for options for this particular leadership offsite, the human resources team organizing the offsite eliminated most of the traditional “team building” exercises and looked instead for something more meaningful. The goals of the offsite were to get leaders thinking about what skills, experiences, attributes and outlooks they could bring to the company table and how to leverage those for the greater good through an unusual team building exercise.

The company team asked More than Words what they needed most, which turned out to be office furniture for the new storefront. A team from the company and a group of More Than Words kids rented a large truck, gathered their lists, and went to the local IKEA to purchase the required items.  They also ferried the unassembled furniture to the offsite location where the leadership team was tasked with assembling all of the furniture, as a team and with the participation of every company leader from CEO Gail Goodman to the greenest manager. The goal was to get people to focus on their strengths and apply them in a team setting.

In the middle of the day the bookstore’s founder and Teen LEEP director Jodi Rosenbaum Tillinger came to speak, alongside Rolgems Alphonse, one of the More than Words success stories. Both Jodi and Rolgems told their stories of leadership, followed by an appreciation of the organization by Gail Goodman. All of the speakers focused on the questions “What can you be the best at?” “What are you passionate about?” and “What drives your economic engine?” By sharing their individual stories, they encouraged others to think about their own strengths and ambitions.

The value from the offsite was both individual and collective. More than one-third of the Constant Contact participants signed up to do additional work with More than Words on an individual basis and the company has offered to continue working with the organization to address its needs. When the furniture was delivered at the More than Words location, the program participants were thrilled to see its arrival and begin to feel the unfolding reality of the second bookstore. For Constant Contact the satisfaction of accomplishing its goals for the offsite meeting was as palpable as the energy generated by giving back to a great community organization.

* Bob Nicoson, is Chief Human Resources Officer and Sue LaChance is Director, Organizational and Leadership Development at Constant Contact.

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