volunteer posts

Jun 4th 2012

AOLer Ting Wang Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Monster Help Day

How do you put together a day of service that involves thousands of employees working with local charities all around the world? It takes lots of planning and teamwork! Ting Wang, Manager of Corporate Events and Employee Programs at AOL, knows firsthand about the intricate details involved in organizing such an event. Ting, along with the events team, began planning Monster Help Day, a global service day where AOLers around the world come together as a company to help support the communities we live and work in, way back in January.

Involving nearly 3,000 employees in 21 offices helping 38+ charities around the world, the most challenging aspect of the event is the sheer scale. "It's a logistical beast of a project," said Ting, "but that's what makes it so rewarding. Seeing AOLers from all different facets of the business come together from social media and corporate communications doing promotion to our facilities team setting up on-site activities to our cause marketing team creating a cause module on the AOL mail sign-in page, we all come together. And at the end of the day, it's all about how we're helping and the impact we are making on others."

With different locations and time zones, the team also relied on site leads to organize the charge on the ground. The site leads were AOLers who volunteered to go above and beyond their normal job descriptions which include advertising execs and office managers, to help rally people and get them involved.

How does AOL pick the charities they will partner with on Monster Help Day? Ting and team incorporate employee feedback from past events as well as looking for causes that employees are already committed to. "What makes Monster Help Day so powerful is when employees personally connect with the community and the cause, leaving the day feeling like they've really made a direct impact," said Ting. "We want to work with causes AOLers are passionate about. For instance, the Denver office is all about sustainability and going green. They worked with Grow Local Colorado to plant a vegetable garden that will in turn help feed the homeless and hungry. The Dublin office created a unique opportunity for developers, graphic designers, photographers, etc. to utilize their skills to help local charities revamp their websites."

Ting executes a number of different events at AOL, from brand activations to global company meetings to community projects. "One of my favorite projects was when we donated a mobile computer lab to St. Jude Children's Hospital. As a digital media company, it was amazing to be able to utilize our resources to help these children and their families connect with one another while going through such a difficult time in their lives." Ting thrives at working on consumer and industry events and the challenge of creating an event from scratch where she can build innovative, fresh, strategic events that achieve the business goals while being original with out-of-the-box ideas. When Ting is not traveling around the globe creating world-class events she enjoys watching her summer TV guilty pleasure "So You Think You Can Dance," reading Game of Thrones, and attempting to survive the Insanity workout.

May 16th 2012

AOL Celebrates Birthday with Annual Day of Service

Here at AOL, we're in the business of helping people, period. Although we try and live this value every day, each year on AOL's birthday, we take it to the next level with Monster Help Day, a global community service day where AOLers around the world come together as a company to help strengthen the communities we live and work in while sharing a rewarding experience with our colleagues. On Friday, May 18th, we are celebrating our third annual Monster Help Day – an initiative created by employees, for employees.

This year AOLers from 21 offices around the globe will support more than 38 charities by doing volunteer activities like building care kits for troops, serving lunches at food banks, and planting trees in local parks. From Bangalore to Palo Alto, AOL employees will take the day off from work and support the charitable organizations in our local communities while reinforcing one of our core values. Over the last two years AOL employees have spent over 50,000 hours doing community service on Monster Help Day and have helped nearly 100 charities. We've built houses, sent packages, and helped those most in need, take a look at what we accomplished at last year's event:

Interested in getting involved in Monster Help Day? Find out more information by visiting our Monster Help Day page on AOL Impact and follow us all around the world on Twitter on Friday at #monsterhelpday.

May 10th 2012

Introducing Homepage for Heroes

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of Homepage for Heroes, a new initiative that brings together the best of AOL to recognize, honor and support those that dedicate their lives to protecting and bettering ours. As May is National Military Appreciation Month, what better way to kick off this initiative than to honor the men and women who bravely serve in our military?

Through June, AOL is partnering with the USO® to create connections for U.S. military troops deployed across the world. Every time a user comes to aol.com/heroes and sets AOL as their homepage, AOL will donate 10 minutes of talk-time on their behalf. This donation will help support Operation Phone Home, a USO® program that provides free calls, high-speed Internet bandwidth and wireless access to troops in USO® Centers around the world.

And we're not stopping there. AOL will continue to honor our military service members throughout the year, by creating support and opportunity for our troops and their families:

  • This month, AOL employees will be creating 30,000 care packages as part of our annual Monster Help Day. These care packages will be sent to active service members overseas, returning wounded military personnel, as well as military spouses and children right here at home. Starting July 4th, AOL users will have the opportunity to personalize these care packages, by sending their own letters of thanks and support, courtesy of the non-profit Operation Gratitude.
  • Later on in the year, we'll look to raise awareness and provide support for one of the biggest challenges our troops face when returning home: re-entering the workforce. To do this, we'll leverage one of our greatest assets: our content creators. AOL will call upon experts in every field (career management, media, fashion and decorated veterans) to compile a dream team of advisors who will help military families. We'll feature one complete "career makeover" for a veteran and their family each week.

As a child in the early 1970s, I remember my Mom and Dad each wearing bracelets that contained the name, rank, service branch, country and date of loss of an American prisoner of war or service member who had gone missing in action. It was their way to show support for those brave service members who had lost their connection to both their family and their country. Years later my mother received a letter from her POW, who had returned home. The letter contained a personal thank you note, along with a picture of him, his wife and children. The letter brought home for me the fact that these were real people, with real lives and real families, making very real sacrifices for our country. Sadly, my father's POW/MIA never returned home to his family.

At AOL, it is our goal to connect our audience to the causes that they care about, and to give them the tools they need to make a difference. Homepage for Heroes is the latest installment of our ongoing commitment to that goal.

May 2nd 2012

AOLer Keegan Forte Talks Volunteerism and Venture Capital

Growing up in a family full of volunteers, AOLer Keegan Vance Forte has always been actively dedicated to helping others. From a young age, Keegan would ride her bicycle around her neighborhood delivering goods like books and food to members of the Manhasset Women's Coalition Against Breast Cancer (MWCABC), a local charity founded by Keegan's mother, dedicated to funding innovative research, increasing awareness, and providing support services to those with breast cancer and related diseases.

In her day job, Keegan helps to build new businesses as Chief of Staff of AOL Ventures, AOL's venture capital arm. When discussing what makes AOL Ventures unique, Keegan explains that her team is really dedicated to solving for the structural and organizational challenges that most other corporate VC funds face. "We try and maintain a lightweight structure and organization and tend to make investment decisions quickly – two things that usually don't exist within corporate funds to date," Keegan said. "In addition we really work hard to make sure we only invest in things where we know both AOL and AOL Ventures gets some measurable value out of. Basically it should be a two way street with an entrepreneur - we are attracted to them because of the idea, the opportunity and the fact that we can 'rent' their services without having to buy it. In turn they get access to AOL as a customer and all the knowledge that we have internally to help them build a big business."

We asked Keegan a question she hears a lot, "What does AOL Ventures look for when investing?". She answered, "There's a set of certain criteria that need to be answered like: is there an attractive customer target? Is the company solving a pain point or problem in a unique way? Is there a large and growing market opportunity? Is there a clear path to exit with several natural acquirers?" As a thematic fund, AOL Ventures answers these questions before investing and also mainly focuses on seed and series A investments across 5 key buckets: SaaS (Software as a Service), Local, Content, Mobile and Ad Tech.

When asked about her favorite AOL products, Keegan answered, "Huntsy, which was created by QLabs. It's a tool for frustrated job hunters to help keep them organized and on track during their job hunt. So many people track jobs using excel files or binders which can be overwhelming, but Huntsy is a super simple solution that acts as a bookmarklet on top of your browser. It pulls all of your job information straight into your Huntsy profile to make finding your dream job an easy process." Keegan to no surprise, also admires the work that the AOL cause marketing team does, including the launch of AOL Impact, which connects people with charities, making it easy to get involved, and share the missions of organizations doing amazing things.

When the long work day is over, Keegan continues to work with her mother's charity today, but also spreads her efforts supporting causes like
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Musicians On Call, as well as Bike to the Beach, a century ride benefiting Autism Speaks. Starting in the heart of New York City and ending in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, Bike to the Beach raises funds and awareness for autism while creating a clear message to the public about how many people are affected by the disorder – one diagnosed every 20 minutes. This year's ride, which will take place on Friday, June 8th, marks the third anniversary of the ride, and as one of the directors of the NY chapter, Keegan has been focusing on recruiting cyclists and organizing events in preparation for the ride.

"Bike to the Beach is unique because we're giving people a cause to support, but also offering them a challenge that they can accomplish. We get a few different type of people who participate like those supporters dedicated to fighting autism who think we are crazy for trying to get them on a bike, but do it because it's for a cause they are passionate about. Then we get avid cyclists that want to participate because they want to get another bike ride under their belt, but they end up doing the ride, learning about autism and joining our larger community of supporters."

Interested in Bike to the Beach? The organization is still looking for cyclists and volunteers to get involved. For more information click here or reach out directly to Keegan.

Mar 1st 2012

Share Your Cause with AOL Impact

One of our core values at AOL is our commitment as an organization to empower our users to connect and engage with worthy causes. We are thrilled to partner with the Cause Marketing Forum again to demonstrate the power of the AOL Impact platform with the launch of the 'Share Your Cause' Contest. This year, we've expanded visibility for the winner by including a full-page presence on the AOL Mail Sign In Page for a day and a Huffington Post Blog in addition to one day in a premium position on the AOL homepage.

The contest, which is part of AOL Impact's sponsorship of the 9th annual Cause Marketing Forum conference, opens today and runs through March 30, 2012. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on the compelling nature of the campaign as described in the essay.

To submit an entry, view official rules and browse frequently asked questions, visit: http://www.CauseMarketingForum.com/aol2012.

The 2012 winner will be announced at the 10th Anniversary Cause Marketing Forum conference taking place on May 30-31, 2012 in Chicago.

AOL Impact reinforces AOL's dedication to "giving back" by dedicating premium placement on AOL.com and AOL Mail to garner exposure for nonprofits at no cost. AOL Impact connects users with charities, making it easy to get involved and spread awareness. Visit http://impact.aol.com/ for more information on AOL Impact.

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