With Submittable, Trulieve makes social impact a pillar of their brand.
Trulieve, a medical cannabis company, was founded on the promise to be a force of good for the community. As the corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager, Sarah Mitchell plays a big role helping the company deliver on this promise. With more than 120 Trulieve locations across 11 states, she and her team have a lot of ground to cover to connect with employees and community members.
What we found is people want to volunteer, but if there's any type of threshold, then it's harder for them to take advantage of it.
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Trulieve
Employee volunteering was a natural fit for the company. “We started a volunteer program because we saw the need in the community for real tangible positive work to be done. And we saw that our associates were passionate about it as well,” Sarah says.
To support the effort, Sarah and her team built their own infrastructure. They used a combination of emails and spreadsheets to track and promote volunteer opportunities. It worked fairly well, but they soon began to bump up against the limitations of their homegrown system. Even with employee resource groups (ERGs) and community outreach teams set up to support volunteering, something still wasn’t working.
Despite their best efforts, Sarah and her team were bogged down. Emails and spreadsheets made it difficult to communicate clearly and track impact. The process overwhelmed the CSR team and created a confusing experience for employees.
A cumbersome and unpredictable sign-up process kept employees from participating. They simply didn’t know where to go to sign up or find information. Although some employees took the time and energy to figure it out, many didn’t bother. Sarah noticed that participation hit a plateau. Their highest engagement topped out at 500 employees, representing less than one-third of the company.
Using emails and Excel meant Sarah and her team spent a huge chunk of their time crafting communication and managing sign-ups. Without a platform for employees to do it themselves, Sarah had to be very hands-on in terms of administration. These tasks limited the number of volunteer opportunities she could create and pulled her away from deeper strategic work.
Trulieve’s licensing requirements include a mandate that the company show positive community impact. Sarah needed a tool that could track and report on volunteer efforts. What she found was that Excel was often inaccurate and inconsistent. Reporting became a whole lot of manual tasks. “We couldn't track all of the efforts seamlessly,” Sarah says. “It was just a lot of heavy lifting for the teams.”
Sarah decided that her team needed a solution that could bring all the disparate pieces of their volunteer program together—event creation, communication, volunteer time off (VTO) tracking, and reporting. Plus, she needed software that would map onto existing team structures. In particular, they needed a platform that would empower employee resource groups and community outreach teams to create volunteer opportunities themselves.
With Volunteer by Submittable, Sarah and her team were able to realize this vision. When they started using Volunteer, 200 employees signed up. Within months, that number had climbed to nearly 800. “We weren't able to do this level of volunteerism before Submittable,” Sarah says. Here’s how they did it:
Sarah knew that the sign-up process was creating an unnecessary barrier and discouraging employees who wanted to participate. “What we found is people want to volunteer, but if there's any type of threshold, then it's harder for them to take advantage of it,” she says.
With Submittable, the sign-up process became seamless. Using single sign-on (SSO), Sarah ensured that employees wouldn’t have to remember a new login and password. Instead, they could access their volunteering dashboard with one click.
The dashboard itself is a huge departure from how Trulieve used to do it. “Before Submittable, it was just an endless email thread,” Sarah says. Now, employees can easily see upcoming opportunities, get all the information they need, and sign up. Automated reminder emails help keep everyone on track.
Using tools that weren’t designed to support a volunteering program meant that Sarah and her team carried a big administrative burden. They had to create manual workflows and build each volunteer opportunity from scratch. Switching to Submittable dramatically reduced the time it took to create, manage, and report on volunteering. “Personally, it has probably saved me five to 10 hours a week,” she says.
Reporting got a whole lot easier and more granular. “Submittable has really made it so seamless that we can get all that data very easily in one snapshot, and I'm able to pull it for each state and even down to each municipality city town that we need,” Sarah says.
Not only are processes more streamlined with Submittable, but Sarah and her team can spread the work out more naturally. Now, ERG leaders and community impact team members can create volunteer events and send them to Sarah’s team for approval. This helps avoid the bottleneck that happens when one or two people are responsible for creating and communicating about all volunteer events. In turn, the CSR team can support way more events and reach many more employees, even ones that live in rural areas.
Employees crave clarity and consistency. With Submittable they get exactly that—one place to do everything. But getting them onto the Volunteer platform is key.
Sarah folds messaging about volunteering into existing channels that employees are already tuned into such as Trulieve’s internal monthly newsletter and breakroom TVs. The Submittable team helped create a QR code so that employees could access the platform easily from their smartphones. “We're always looking for ways that we can meet our teams where they are,” Sarah says.
Thematic events can tie volunteering to more global efforts and inspire employees to get involved. For instance, Trulieve hosted Earth Day events. “Submittable was actually extremely instrumental for us over Earth Day. We coordinated with teams all across the country, and it was all very seamless, very streamlined. It was one of our largest turnout for volunteers,” Sarah says.
For CSR professionals, every minute saved from administrative tasks is another minute they can spend on impactful work. “Any time that we get back is put right back into the community in some form or fashion—right back into our teams, and to the associates. So any time that I can spend less time typing and emailing means more time that I can make the impact that I'm here to make,” Sarah says.
Getting more people involved in volunteering is not just about making a line on a graph go up, it has a real-world impact for employees and the community. “Those individuals who are going out and getting involved, they're building camaraderie not only within their own teams but with their communities,” Sarah says. “You really see this cycle of just positivity.”
As she looks ahead to the future, Sarah aims to get all 1,600 Trulieve employees involved in volunteering. With Submittable, she feels that this lofty goal is achievable.
hours per week saved for each admin
volunteer hours logged over 4 months
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