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54,000 hours: 6+ years of time, $1.55MM of community investment
employees around the world committed to volunteerism in 2021


Employee impact by the numbers

On January 7 this year, Cardinal Health celebrated its 50th year in business and kicked off a year of service – challenging its 44,000 employees around the globe to volunteer, collectively, 50,000 hours. Employees responded with enthusiasm from the start and have surpassed the goal.

At the time of this story’s publication, they’ve given more than 54,000 volunteer hours throughout 2021 – the equivalent of more than six years. Independent Sector, a national membership organization that provides policy leadership across the nonprofit sector, estimates that the national value of each volunteer hour is worth $28.54, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ database of job functions and mean wages. That puts the value of the impact of our employees’ volunteerism at nearly 1.55 million U.S. dollars.

“Our employees have long been driven by a deep commitment to give back,” said Jessie Cannon, Vice President of Community Relations at Cardinal Health. “This year, as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our communities for allowing us to serve them over the past 50 years, we wanted to inspire our employees to do even more. Connecting the year of service to our company’s 50th anniversary has helped us keep a steady focus on volunteerism and giving back to our communities, and to continually celebrate our employees’ generosity.”

All employees are encouraged to volunteer for the causes they care about most, Cannon explained. As a result, depending on their personal passions and skills, employees may volunteer at food banks, tutor underprivileged school children, deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly, help out at animal shelters, or fundraise for various health issues. Many employees offer their leadership skills as members of nonprofit boards; others do pro bono work, providing free legal, financial, or marketing and communications advice and expertise.

Entire teams volunteered together this past year, Cannon said. For example, the global Legal, Regulatory, Compliance and Quality (LRCQ) team kicked off the year with a day of service in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Later, they made blankets for children and families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities and gathered books to donate to a literacy program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. A group of attorneys from the team partnered with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to host a virtual clinic on will preparation for low-income seniors and veterans. Team members in China planted trees on Arbor Day while those in Ireland volunteered to help promote suicide prevention education.  

The Corporate Affairs team recently devoted half of a regularly scheduled meeting to an “afternoon of service,” volunteering virtually or in person. Together, they logged more than 200 hours, spreading out across our communities to pick up trash in public spaces, feed the homeless, sort groceries at foodbanks, collect donated books for school children and more.

Encouraging employee volunteerism has many payoffs, Cannon said. “Of course, the number one reason is simply helping those in need. Every volunteer hour helps.”

But volunteerism is good for volunteers, too, she said. Volunteering outside of work gives employees the chance to build skills that they may not yet be using in their jobs – skills like negotiations, communications and managing others – that help them prepare for potential promotions.

“Volunteering can also broaden perspectives by revealing how other people live and the challenges they face. And donating time to do something really different than your day-to-day work can be energizing and bring new focus. Volunteers often come back to work with new ways of thinking and creative ideas for addressing challenges.’’

There is now a growing body of research showing that volunteerism is also good for your physical and mental health. Last year, for example, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies revealed the results from 70,000 research participants in the United Kingdom, who were surveyed regularly over eight years about volunteerism and their health. Compared to people who didn’t volunteer, those who had volunteered regularly during the previous year reported both better health, greater life satisfaction and better mental health.

And, Doing Good is Good for You, a study published by VolunteerMatch and  UnitedHealthcare, showed that 75% of U.S. adults feel better physically after volunteering; 93% report an improvement to their mood and 88% feel greater self-esteem.

“After hearing our employees share their volunteer experiences throughout the year, I’d guess that most would agree with the research,” Cannon said. “Their stories are inspiring, and their collective impact is significant.” Below, she shares a few examples.

  • Supporting children’s education: Our Strategy team organized multiple book drives that collected more than 1,500 books for the library at Highland Elementary, a school in a significantly underserved area of Columbus, Ohio. In Ireland, more than 50 employees volunteered with Junior Achievement, delivering hands-on experiential learning for school children, to help them understand entrepreneurship, employability and the power of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In Canada, employees partnered with United Way to host a back-to-school drive, collecting enough new school supplies to equip 100 children from low-income families for the entire school year.
  • Feeding the hungry: In Central Ohio, our Employee Activities Committee (EAC) and the Community Relations team cohosted a food drive, collecting 2,000 pounds of food for the Dublin, Ohio, Food Pantry. Employees on the OptiFreight® Logistics team used volunteering events as teambuilding exercises throughout a year of remote work, kicking off their efforts in the spring with several hours at the Mid-Ohio Farm, an educational outreach program of the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. In Texas, the Sonexus team packed 170 holiday food boxes and delivered them to the North Texas Community Food Pantry.
  • Raising money and awareness for health issues: Across the U.S., hundreds of employees participated the American Heart Association Heart Walks, raising more than $180,000 for heart research and heart health education. In Central Ohio, hundreds of employees participated in Pelotonia, raising even more dollars for life-saving cancer research at the James, the Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Ohio State University. In Englewood, Calif., employees raised money for breast cancer research for the American Cancer Society. And in EMEA, more than 150 employees recognized World Thrombosis Day and worked together to raise awareness of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The employees participated in a social media campaign on their personal social pages and joined in awareness-building walking events.

Early in the new year, Cannon said, Cardinal Health will name is first ever “Volunteer of the Year,” recognizing the employee who donated the most hours to volunteerism.

“Cardinal Health will continue our commitment to serving the communities in which we live and work,” she said. “There are so many issues around the world ­– inequitable access to food, housing, education, quality healthcare – the list goes on and on,” Cannon said. “Unfortunately, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs are greater than ever. However, our year of service has reminded us that every volunteer hour matters, and every volunteer makes an impact.”  

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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.