'Making every moment special in the community' - raising the social status of volunteering so more people are inspired to get involved and benefit themsevles as well as their community.When we investigated how we can help improve wellbeing for our customers and colleagues we were struck by the very positive impact of volunteering activities. Research indicates that volunteering typically has a positive effect on mental health – by enhancing social integration and engagement. Volunteering reduced incidences of depression, stress, hospitalisation, pain, psychological distress. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being "very happy" rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. At the same time as a retailer we have seen evidence of increased need from community groups for support due to funding cuts from local government while seeing increased demand for their services from disadvantaged people struggling with the cost of living, health challenges or access to employement and skills. So the evidence for getting more people to volunteer is compelling - it improves wellbeing and happiness as well as contributing to society groups who need more support than ever. However many people find it unaccessible, unappealing and put off signing up to volunteer. We wanted to use our brand strenght and the power of social media to change the perception of volunteering and in doing so inspire more people (our colleagues and customers) to get involved and then 'shout out' about their volunteering activity.
In June 2017 we set aside a period of 10 days where we supported 600 community volunteering projects took place across the UK and Ireland, with over6000 employees and customers taking part. This volunteering activity brought to life the recently launched M&S campaign '#SpenditWell', which is about inspiring people to focusing on the experiences, people and things that really matter in life. Marks & Spencer has committed to support M&S colleagues in delivering one million hours of community volunteering by 2025, to help make a difference to the projects and initiatives that really matter in the communities it serves.
Across the 600 projects, we covered the widest range of volunteering projects including decorating, gardening, skills exchange and hosting events for communiity groups such as children with special needs or elderly people and their carers.
To raise awareness of the diversity of volunteering opporutnities and shift the perectpion we launched an integrated campaign of marketing across all channels with a particular focus on social media - facebook, twitter, yammer, and using our partner neighbourly.com to help get the stories out from grassroots community groups.
The focus for social media activity was centred around 1st June which we named as 'Make it Matter Day' Make it Matter is part of the recently launched M&S campaign '#SpenditWell', which is about inspiring people to make every moment special by focusing on the experiences, people and things that really matter in life.
To raise the social status of volunteering we created some very local content for social media and encouraged other community groups to share what they produced. We produced 1 national video and 8 geo-targetted local videos as well as encouraring the sharing of photos and and messages by volunteers participating.
We also created a bespoke local email from customers' favourite store (570 stores) - largest local marketing send to date, with over 7000 unique pieces of data which was sourced from user generated content on neighbourly.com about the store's local charity and volunteering project.
The timing of the activity coincided with National Volunteers Week, with the aim of making our activity be part of an even bigger movement that brings people together to get involved in their communities. It also meant that our brand could amplify what exisitng voluntary bodies were doing to celebrate those who volunteer. For example we hosted 44 tea parties for Royal Voluntary Service to invite their volunteers in along with some of our customers for a treat of an afternoon tea. We believe we can achieve more together than we ever can on our own. Because in life, lots of the small actions from lots of people, can have a big impact. #Spenditwell
100% sign up to our target number of volunteers with very positive impact on their wellbeing. Over 6,000 employees supported 600 projects in UK and ROI . This inspired wider take up with Marks and Spencer teams in India and Hong Kong proactively joining in.
78% volunteers felt more connected with their community,90% respondents said it had a positive impact on them personally. 97% of volunteers consider that a paid volunteer day is an important employee benefit.
94% of community groups that benefitted from the volunteering activity said the activity had a very positive impact with 70% rating it 10 "extremely positive impact" .
Celebratory tea parties were particularly successful with over 1,200 Royal Voluntary Service guests attending. 100% of RVS Service Managers said the party was enjoyed by guests and 100% of RVS Service Managers said they would like to do it again. 788 M&S customers invited to events and of that 40 M&S customers expressed an interest in volunteering for RVS which was a higher than expected ratio.
Social media reach:
8M unique FB users reached, 9M 3" Video Views . 2.4M 10" Video Views
35% VTR (15% = average)
44.6K Reactions, Sentiment: 83% Positive, 10% Neutral, 7% Negative
Local digital mailing:
Bespoke local email. Very high open rate of 42%. Boosted perception and positivity towards M&S. 65% of people liked the charity related content.
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