Brandon Skinner

Skills-based volunteering at 84.51°: A primer

Brandon Skinner

On a daily basis, 84.51° associates operate with the goal of making peoples’ lives easier. Typically, those people are our consumer-packaged-goods and Kroger clients, but it can also be people in our local communities.

Skills-based volunteering is a side-of-desk job for many associates who wish to donate their time and professional skills to assist in projects for local nonprofit organizations. Any associate regardless of role or level is eligible to participate in this Living Our Purpose initiative that is truly the heartbeat of 84.51°’s culture.

The process is simple. If any charity is in need of support, they (or, in many cases, an associate who is actively involved with the organization) will reach out to make the initial request. From there, they get assigned to an 84.51° skills-based volunteer who will begin scoping the project. The only criterion for an organization is that it must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“There are some limitations when it comes to projects, but we have always been able to work together to scope a project that matches the organizations’ need and our volunteers’ skill sets,” said Data Scientist Lizz Hyde, who serves as 84.51°’s skills-based volunteer coordinator.

Examples of questions that we help organizations answer include:

  • How can we structure a survey for better analysis?

  • How can we analyze existing data to answer organizational questions?

  • What tools and technologies can we leverage and upskill on to support future work?

  • What trends exist in the market currently?

  • Is there a new, creative way to think about solving a problem?

  • How can we set up an efficient process, or improve an existing one?

  • How can I make or improve a website?

The program originated with several former and current associates who were passionate about helping community partners in need. After a few years of projects with organizations like Strategies to End Homelessness and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, we decided to streamline the process to encourage more volunteer projects. The program has since finished 13 projects with 8 different organizations.

While projects have historically centered around data science, skills-based volunteering is open to all areas of the 84.51° business – providing associates with a greater sense of purpose for the work they do.

“I think skills-based volunteering is important to 84.51° culture because it adds an additional layer of purpose to our day-to-day work,” Lizz said. “We have unique skill sets at 84.51° and being able to use what we learn at work to help organizations in need brings a deeper sense of purpose and meaning into our daily tasks.”

If you are a nonprofit (without an affiliation to 84.51°) seeking the help of a skills-based volunteer, please email Marketing@8451.com.

We’re leading a data revolution in the retail business, and we’re looking for partners who are ready for a deeper, more personal approach to customer engagement.

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