Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year (Mid-Size Business) Nominee
Priscilla B. Knight
Cooperative Living/Keeping Current Editor
Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company?
NOVEC believes a Corporate-Service-Responsibility strategy is important for companies because when customers thrive, companies do too. “Concern for Community” -- one of the seven cooperative principles -- guides NOVEC and other cooperatives worldwide because co-ops have proven for decades that improving the community enhances economic development and everyone’s welfare.
Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
Yes, the CSR work a company participants in should be affiliated with the work it does, but not limited by it. For instance, when storms, animals, and vehicle accidents cause power outages -- and businesses in our digital world comes to a halt – NOVEC’s highly trained linemen and operators restore service quickly. NOVEC keeps power flowing 99.99 percent of the time – the best record among six regional electric utilities and currently considered number one again in reliability among the largest 138 electric utilities in the nation in the J.D. Power and Associates Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
Beyond providing power, NOVEC:
- Gives tens of thousands of dollars to charitable, health, arts, and youth organizations every year.
- Administers Operation Round Up®, which encourages customers to let NOVEC round up their monthly bills to help less fortunate Northern Virginians pay their heating bills.
- Awards college/educational scholarships.
- Takes high school students on the national Cooperative Youth Tour to see government in action in Washington, D.C., and in Richmond.
- Supports NOVEC HELPS – Hands Engaged in Local Public Service – a group of employee volunteers who raise and give money to 501(c)(3) health, welfare, educational, and veteran organizations. HELPS members: March for Babies; walk for cancer, diabetes, MS, and Alzheimer’s Disease research; bike for a free clinic; cook dinner at homeless shelters; collect school supplies, Thanksgiving food, Toys for Tots, and used electronics for less-fortunate families; shoot trap for St. Jude Research Hospital for Children; helped to pay for solar panels at the Serve Our Willing Warriors Retreat; and take a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. This is a short list of what NOVEC employees do in the community through HELPS.
What makes your company stand out compared to other companies participating in CSR?
I believe NOVEC stands out compared to other companies participating in CSR because our board of directors and Leadership Team members help in the community and they encourage every employee to do so as well. For example, Stan Feuerberg, NOVEC president and CEO, raises money for Easter Seals and participants in NOVEC’s community service projects. He wrote in his 2016 end-of-year letter to employees:
“We’re fortunate to be working for NOVEC, rare in its care for its employees and its customers. Not everyone is so fortunate. So, in the year ahead, please:
- Donate some of your time to NOVEC HELPS, to one of the causes it supports, or to a charitable cause of your choosing.
- When possible, donate to a food bank or some other charity that provides for those less fortunate; it is shocking how many people go to bed hungry at night in this affluent area, and
- Thank an active or former member of the military for service to our country.”
In addition to encouraging employees to volunteer in the community, NOVEC established NOVEC HELPS in 2008. Through fundraising, HELPS members donated almost $40,000 in 2016 to 53 charities and community organizations. HELPS’ major fundraiser is its annual golf tournament. NOVEC allows employees time to organize the tournament, and it does not require them to use annual leave when they coordinate the tournament on golf day. Learn more at www.novechelps.org/home.aspx.
NOVEC is pleased to be nominated for the Chamber’s Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award. It is also proud to be nominated again for the Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence for supporting the arts in Northern Virginia. NOVEC has won several Seefeldt awards.
In April 2016, the Hylton Performing Arts Center presented an award to NOVEC and said:
NOVEC is a shining example of an organization that has made a firm and lasting commitment to make a positive impact on its customers and community on a daily basis. Its mission is to improve the communities it serves by providing the highest quality energy services and striving to continually exceed its customers’ expectations. Beyond the services it provides, NOVEC works to inspire and empower the people it serves to take an active role in their community.
As a founding champion of the Hylton Center, NOVEC has greatly supported and enhanced the arts in our community. NOVEC has been an instrumental partner to the Hylton Center and through its leadership, the Hylton Center’s initiatives and the artists that call the center home have not only grown, but thrived.
Do you believe contributing back to the community allows your company to have a deeper connection with its clients/customers?
Yes, contributing to the community definitely connects NOVEC to its customers/members. They are invited to participate in events through our magazine, Cooperative Living, and in our bill inserts and emails. In response, they bring in Thanksgiving food and Toys for Tots, play poker and golf at our fundraising tournaments, and send financial contributions to HELPS.
Customers apparently recognize and appreciate NOVEC’s CSR because they give high scores to the Co-op in the J.D. Power Corporate Citizen category year after year. In the study that started in August 2016, NOVEC is tied for first place among the nation’s 138 largest electric utilities in “Employee Volunteering Awareness” J.D. Power will release final study results in July.
What advice would you give to companies trying to participate in CSR?
I would advise companies to help employees organize their own group of volunteers and encourage all employees to do something good in the community every year, even if it’s simply a payroll deduction for charity. I would explain why corporate service responsibility helps make the company, employees, and customers thrive. In addition, I would emphasize that CSR polishes a company’s brand, builds customer loyalty, and – most importantly -- improves the welfare of everyone. Doing good benefits businesses, customers, our nation … even the world.
# # #