When giving gives back

Philanthropy doesn’t have to end at the checkbook. When it comes to giving, time and expertise can be just as valuable. That’s why The Allstate Foundation is piloting a new project that donates more than just dollars to Chicago-area nonprofits.

We’ve sent some of our best leaders to work full-time at local nonprofit organizations. The leaders – known as Allstate Fellows – are given a paid leave from their jobs at Allstate for three to six months to apply their business skills and acumen to finding solutions to community problems.

About 77 percent of nonprofits believe skilled volunteers can significantly improve their organizations’ business practices. The Allstate Fellows program gives our leaders a specific, well-defined project that takes advantage of their expertise in areas like human resources, technology, marketing and process improvement.

While the program helps nonprofits bridge recruiting and talent gaps, it’s equally beneficial to Allstate. It’s a tool for our company to attract and retain top performers. A case study by CDC Development Solutions notes that returned participants said the special assignment increased the likelihood they would stay at their company. Moreover, the nonprofit assignments provide important leadership and professional development opportunities. The new skills, insights and perspectives that Fellows bring back to Allstate make our company smarter and stronger.

While the program is still in the early stages, participant response has been overwhelmingly positive. Plans are now in place to expand the program in 2012. Stay tuned for more details.