How To Grow Your Global Pro Bono Program: Advice From 3M

3M’s Meghan Faricy discusses how the company’s global pro bono program was sustainably scaled to provide shared value for 3M and its partners.

Meghan Faricy

Global Community Engagement Strategist, 3Mgives

Who She Is:

As Global Community Engagement Strategist for 3Mgives, the philanthropic arm of 3M, Meghan manages 3M’s environmental grantmaking, 3M Impact, and other skilled volunteering initiatives for the company. Prior to her role in 3Mgives, she served as a Salesforce administrator for the Electronics and Energy Business Group and the Health Care Business Group. Her personal passions are animals, women’s rights and saving the environment.

Q: Tell us about 3M Impact.

A: 3M Impact is a skilled volunteering program that encourages and supports 3M employees who want to share their talents to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. 3M Impact launched in 2017. The inaugural program sent 50 participants to four countries in Southeast Asia, where 3M partnered with 15 host organizations, including nonprofits, social enterprises, and universities. 3M Impact provides an opportunity for 3M employees, or “3Mers,” to improve lives in communities around the world while also developing critical professional skills. In 2018, 3M Impact deployed an additional 50 employees to India, Brazil, China, and South Africa. 3M partners with GlobalGiving for international grantmaking, one piece of our 360 degree approach to making a social impact.

Q: What have you learned from 3M Impact about the positive impact that companies can make on local communities?

A: I’ve always held the belief that corporations have the power to impact the world. We see their influence all over—from new parental leave policies, zero waste goals, to reducing emissions. Companies are leading the way beyond what our government may mandate, not to mention the billions of dollars that companies give annually. Plus, at a company like 3M, our products and technologies also contribute. The belief that science can solve problems and improve lives is rooted in everything we do. The exciting thing about 3M Impact is it provides opportunities for individual employees to make a difference in our local communities in a brand new way. Now, with our people, philanthropy, technologies, and products, we’ve created this 360 degree approach to addressing social issues.

We’re putting everything we have into these issues and living the vision of improving lives every day at both a company level and an employee level.

Q: How is the program designed to ensure sustainability and shared value for the local organization?

A: 3M Impact is designed to support our communities in a completely new way and complement our philanthropy and traditional volunteering. When 3M decided to offer a global pro bono program, sustainability of the organizations was at the forefront of this decision. We, and our implementation partner, PYXERA Global, ensure sustainability in multiple ways.

First, while the participants of 3M Impact are in-country for two weeks, the total program length is three months. The participants have six weeks of pre-work where they get to know each other virtually, learn nonprofit consulting best practices, and get introduced to their host organization and their project so they can hit the ground running when they arrive. Upon their return home, they continue to work with their host organization for a minimum of four weeks, but many participants have continued conversations to help implement their recommendations.

Second, PYXERA Global does an excellent job setting us up for success. Each 3M Impact location typically has three or four projects from three or four different partner organizations. We start by scoping 10 or 12 organizations. PYXERA guides us to ensure we match the participants’ skills with the right projects. For example, we wouldn’t place only marketing professionals with an organization looking to remap its financial strategy.

Lastly, we work side by side with the 3M subsidiaries who host the 3M Impact teams. Several 3M Impact organizations are existing partners with our local subsidiary and aligns with their country strategies, as well as with 3Mgives strategies.

Oftentimes, we are able to incorporate philanthropy into the program, as well, providing grants to many of the organizations we have partnered with to help sustain both the project and the nonprofit longer term.

Q: How does 3M Impact enhance 3M’s international giving strategy?

A: 3M is a global company, with operations in over 70 countries and most employees are outside of the United States. It’s important that our philanthropy reflects this and our employees see themselves as global citizens. Our goal is to have 25% of 3M’s total giving dedicated to international organizations by 2020, which is up from 12% in 2013.

Our international and US giving share a common philosophy, with three approaches to increasing our international giving portfolio:

  • increasing US-based investments,
  • expanding subsidiary community engagement programs, and
  • growing the 3M Impact initiative.

Additionally, we work to make sure that the philanthropy that is given via our US channels to our subsidiaries is sustainable. When subsidiaries receive a 3M Impact project team, that’s a great way for them to maximize their impact to their communities. Also, subsidiaries that want to start local programs receive funding for the first year to help get the program off the ground.

Q: What is your favorite story from a partner organization that benefited from 3M’s skilled volunteering?

A: My favorite anecdote was from our partner Carlos, who works for Associação Cornélia in Campinas, Brazil. He wrote an article afterwards answering the question, “If offered a million dollars or pro bono services, which would you choose?” He responded, “After everything we experienced, everything we built together, I would have no doubt choosing pro bono services.”

I love this because it shows the value we bring to these organizations and the caliber of skills our employees share.

Companies can give grants and provide volunteers, but pro bono service helps these organizations gain efficiencies and help more people.

Most importantly, it’s sustainable. For 3M Impact to be worth a million dollars to an organization—I consider that a win!

Q: What is your favorite story from a 3Mer who participated in skilled volunteering?

A: One of my favorite stories is of a 3Mer who worked in manufacturing for 10 years when he applied for the program. After his experience with 3M Impact, he was motivated to step out of his comfort zone and apply for a new role completely out of his realm. He credited 3M Impact, “If it wasn’t for this experience, I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply.” He was offered the job! I love that this program was able to impact his career. With 90,000 employees, and so many different business groups and businesses, we can sometimes forget the opportunity that this company affords us.

Q: You launched 3M Impact last year with 50 employees volunteering their skills. In what ways will this program evolve?

A: It’s hard to believe we launched just last year! We’ve had a lot of exciting changes and there are new things to come. First, we added a local component of the program. It is important to us that we give every employee an opportunity to volunteer their skills. We recognize that not every employee is able to, for personal or professional reasons, travel halfway across the world for two weeks. This summer we piloted 3M Impact: Twin Cities, pairing 10 St. Paul area employees with three current 3Mgives nonprofit partners. Mexico City, India, and Brazil will also pilot the local version. We’re excited to see how this can provide greater support to existing partners and expand our reach to new organizations. In 2019, we will double the participants in 3M Impact: Global to 100.

We are also driving the program to bring a stronger shared value approach to our businesses.

With such a diversified company, we have the capacity and skills to look at many social issues—from traffic safety to oral health. This allows us to go to places in the world with higher social needs in these areas and align closely to the global Sustainable Development Goals. I have no doubt that 3M Impact will soon be a piece of our businesses’ sustainability strategies.

Is your company interested in launching employee engagement programs? GlobalGiving can help.


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