[Xtern Software] Our commitment to volunteerism

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Xtern Software is a small (under 20 employees), one-location organization with a robust commitment to volunteerism program. Here’s how we approach volunteerism, and how your business can, too:

1. Define the mission and values of the company. This doesn’t need to be a time-intensive or expensive project where outside consultants are needed. However, mission and values should be defined (and documented) and agreed upon by company leadership. 
- We share our mission and values publicly on our website as a way of making it visible to others, and holding ourselves accountable to the standards we have set. 
- And it’s no coincidence that our first core value is, “We have deep roots in our community through volunteer & civic organizations.”

2. Discuss with your team the causes and organizations they care about, rather than making assumptions. Our three core volunteering efforts are applicable to our workforce in the following ways: 
- Computer Literacy Curriculum and Instruction for members of the United Way’s Family Success Center – leverages our expertise in information technology and the background of many employees who have worked as tutors or TAs in the past. 
- Internships and Mentoring for Campus Greensboro Fellows – highlights our desire to recruit, hire, and retain local talent. 
- Adopting nearby Latham Park – gives our team a chance to maintain and beautify the park that so many of us spend time at during our work day. 

3. Ensure that programmatic options fit your employees’ skill sets, schedules, and interests. Some of these options are plug and play (e.g. picking up litter), while others require longer-term planning and commitment (e.g. teaching a 6-week computer literacy course). A diversity of options ensures that all employees have a chance to participate in a way that is comfortable to them. 
- In addition to the three organizations listed above, we also do reduced rate or even pro-bono billable software development for worthy nonprofits. This is another easy way for employees to support our community. 

4. Commit to these efforts for the long term. This shows consistency and authenticity, two things that employees and customers alike can tell are real. The only thing worse than your stakeholders thinking your volunteer work is superficial is if it is actually superficial! 
- Making a business case and guaranteeing buy-in at all levels of the organization ensures that programmatic efforts are relevant and well-suited to your business. This helps to ensure that though the specifics of your volunteerism efforts may change over time, your company’s overall commitment to community engagement will not.