Each September, U.S. Bank employees come together through a monthlong Employee Giving Campaign – donating and volunteering at nonprofits in their communities.
However, with social distancing guidelines and many people still juggling work and home responsibilities brought on by the pandemic, finding safe volunteer opportunities has been challenging. The U.S. Bank team in Sacramento was nonetheless undaunted, setting an ambitious goal of volunteering 1,000 hours of service for the annual campaign – and blew past it by 200 hours. That’s a remarkable achievement in any market, but especially for one with less than 350 employees.
Other U.S. Bank markets across the country similarly rallied to provide direct support to nonprofits. During the 2021 campaign, employees logged more than 30,000 hours and donated a record-breaking $13 million for 10,000 unique organizations in our communities. The U.S. Bank Employee Giving campaign has been a tradition for more than a decade, raising more than $127 million for nonprofits in our communities.
“Our employees are at the heart of everything we do,” said Reba Dominski, chief social responsibility officer for U.S. Bank. “Each year, they show up and give back through volunteerism and donations. I’m in awe of our employees’ dedication, even in challenging times.”
The Sacramento team pulled it off with nearly a year of planning, including partnering with the United Way and business resource groups to come up with a 60-day calendar of in-person and virtual volunteer events. The local team also kept up a drumbeat of encouraging employees to use the 16 hours of paid time-off to volunteer provided by the bank.
"Last year, when the pandemic hit, we as a team realized the need was real out there,” said Chris Befumo, Sacramento consumer and business banking market leader for U.S. Bank. “2020 was a difficult time to volunteer due to COVID restrictions and many nonprofits were just overwhelmed. What we all saw happening in our communities and with friends and neighbors really inspired us to come together and encourage each other to find our passions in the community where we can make a difference.”
In Sacramento, campaign co-chairs Crystaline Combs, district manager, and Courtney Roberts, project manager, enlisted ambassadors from across the market to begin the process of organizing volunteer events in early 2021 by asking employees what nonprofits they were interested in helping. That approach encouraged many employees who had never volunteered before, or only did so sporadically, to sign up multiple times.
Jasmine Wheeler, a business banking specialist, has worked for the bank for nine years and recalls only volunteering once in that timeframe. During this year’s Employee Giving Campaign, however, she volunteered three times in a span of just a few weeks – helping with park clean-ups and building projects in the Oak Park neighborhood that she once called home as well as distributing food and produce at a local food bank.
“The first day I volunteered I left thinking a lot about life in general – I have a roof over my head, I don’t have a problem buying food,” she said. “On a normal day, you don’t think about those things. That is what made me want to volunteer more, and I did.”
Diana Simons, float pool manager, dedicated an estimated 100 hours over 90 days to finding volunteer opportunities and organizing participants. She also helped teams overcome obstacles to finding time away from their work responsibilities. For instance, when a branch team had challenges scheduling time for employees to volunteer during work hours, she helped them find a United Way virtual e-card volunteer project they could complete together. Simons then showed up that day with a thank you banner and special treats to make the time celebratory.
Simons has been passionate about volunteering for causes near and dear to her for years, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Opening Doors, Inc. She was glad to align volunteer opportunities with her colleagues’ own interests.
“Our employees are experiencing the same feelings I felt when I first began volunteering… that’s the most beautiful thing of this all,” Simons said. “For me, it’s personal. I acknowledge there are passions for everything, and we tried to bring different options so everyone found something they were truly passionate about.”
To learn more about the bank’s commitment to communities, visit www.usbank.com/community.
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