Principal raises $875k for disaster relief through virtual volunteering

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When the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees to work from home, the Principal Financial Group’s in-person employee volunteer program had to pause as well.

The Principal Foundation and community relations team began looking for other ways to involve employees.

“We were looking for more ways to engage employees virtually in volunteerism and employee engagement opportunities, so they could feel connected to the company and contribute to their communities,” says Jesse Coleman, a senior program associate with the Principal Foundation.

They began a virtual volunteer program, and Charity Miles became the second opportunity they offered.

“Charity Miles was a really great mix between promoting a healthy lifestyle and allowing our employees an opportunity to give back in a virtual way, which was increasingly challenging as our workforce turns more hybrid and more remote,” says Jesse.

The first opportunity in the Principal virtual volunteer program had been related to disaster relief, and they kept that theme with Charity Miles. Each month of the six-month program, the Principal used Charity Miles to donate to a different disaster relief organization.

They started in April with the International Rescue Committee, then did Save the Children, Direct Relief, Shelter Box, UNICEF, and finally, Doctors Without Borders.

Disaster relief is especially important to the Principal because of its connection to the company’s mission.

The mission of both Principal Financial Group and the Principal Foundation is to foster a world where financial security is accessible to all. “We know through research that when disaster strikes, it severely impacts one’s ability to become financially secure,” says Jesse. “People divert resources to just surviving. Disaster relief is one of our key funding priorities with the Principal Foundation because we can step in and reduce that burden after disaster strikes.”

And the team did an incredible job reducing the burden of people surviving disasters. Over the six months, they raised an amazing $875,000.

“Some of the people that were at the top of the leaderboard contributed over $6,000 over the course of the six months just through the Charity Miles program,” says Jesse. “I do think it motivated a lot of employees who were already active to do a little more, which is awesome.”

“I think employees appreciated an opportunity to feel like they were giving back, while not being able to volunteer in-person like they used to,” continues Jesse. “It was really well-received by employees. To my knowledge, we had the highest employee engagement in activation that we’ve ever had.”

International employees were especially excited that the virtual format allowed them to participate.

The principal didn’t set the program up as a competition. Instead, they encouraged everyone to participate.

“Whether you’re already biking 20 miles a day or you’re walking around your house, every step counts,” says Jesse. “Every mile is giving back to these organizations that are providing disaster relief.

Congrats to the entire team! Jesse is exactly right: #EveryMileMatters.

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