HOST: Lisette Diamant, Digital Brand Manager
GUESTS: Erica Woods, Director of IT Contractor Programs and Philanthropy; Caitlin Fink, American Cancer Society Account Manager of Corporate Relations
DESCRIPTION: Erica and Caitlin highlight the partnership between Apex Systems and American Cancer Society, and the philanthropic efforts over more than a decade of work towards the fight against cancer.
Lisette Diamant 00:00
Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast packed with insights from Apex Systems, a world class technology services leader working to reimagine value for our clients. We'll bring you the voices of industry experts to showcase our proven solutions that span across digital innovation, modern enterprise and workforce mobilization.
Lisette Diamant 00:26
Today's episode of Digital Reimagined highlights the importance of supporting philanthropic efforts. Apex Systems helps our clients grow their business by enhancing people's lives and helping them progress towards rewarding careers. We do this all with respect and a commitment to our employees, community and the environment. We are invested in creating long term partnerships that strengthen communities, help tackle social challenges, and solve complex problems. We encourage employees to explore their passions, business skills, and expertise to make meaningful contributions to the world around them. The American Cancer Society was chosen to honor many members of the Apex family of employees, consultants, and clients who have been affected by cancer. We would like to bring a spotlight to one of our employees who lost his battle with cancer in 2017. David Connors was an instrumental employee as part of the sales org[anization] at Apex Systems for over 16 years. For the past three years, Apex Systems has inaugurated the David Connors Award to an employee or team that embodies what David was about. Someone that shows strength, character, heart, and the ability to help others.
Lisette Diamant 01:35
On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, we welcome Erica Woods, Apex Systems' Director of IT Contractor Programs and Philanthropy, and Caitlin Fink, American Cancer Society Account Manager of Corporate Relations. Welcome to you both. Erica, great having you here in the recording studio.
Erica Woods 01:51
Thrilled to be here.
Lisette Diamant 01:52
And Caitlin, welcome aboard. Great having you as well.
Caitlin Fink 01:54
Thank you, happy to be here.
Lisette Diamant 01:56
Wonderful. I'd like to talk about the major partnerships that Apex Systems has and supports for philanthropic efforts. Erica, can you kick us off?
Erica Woods 02:04
Absolutely. So I think it's important to note to start us off that Apex has had a formal philanthropy committee for over 12 years now, both on the national level and most of our branches and teams in the field have local philanthropic steering committees. One of our first tasks as a national committee, after we created a charter and our macro level goals, was really determining who our core partnerships and the nonprofits we really wanted to stand by as a company were going to be. So American Cancer Society, they've been our longest standing partner. We are very proud to be a national Partner Against Cancer for over five years at this point. And 2020 marked an incredible milestone for Apex, since that is when we passed $1 million from corporate contributions plus employee contributions and fundraising.
Lisette Diamant 02:55
Wow, that's incredible. So building on this, I'd really like to talk about- Erica, how did you start working alongside Caitlin?
Erica Woods 03:02
You know, after we founded the committee, one of our first tasks was, again, to select a national nonprofit that the company could stand behind. When we initially started looking at different organizations, we identified 11 major nonprofits that had volunteer opportunities in each market, and we selected American Cancer Society for four major reasons. First, a very large percentage of the funds raised go directly to the cause, which is very important for us as an organization and for our employees. Second, they just have such a variety of volunteer opportunities. Apex employees have participated in Relay for Life, Bark for Life, Making Strides Against Cancer, golf tournaments, charity galas. A lot of our offices volunteer at local Hope Lodges, which is an American Cancer Society program. So just a number of different ways to give back. Third, at that time, one of our Apex employees in the back office lost her fight to cancer. So the American Cancer Society really resonated with us as a company, because we had just lost a member of our team. And unfortunately, over the years, we've lost a couple other team members. But we do have a number of cancer survivors that work for Apex now and we fight for them, as well as the people we've lost.
Lisette Diamant 04:25
Absolutely. I think everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, with having friends, family, coworkers fight the fight. And you know, such a perfect way to tie everything together and be able to give back. And certainly Caitlin, having you alongside us has been amazing to really be able to see through a vision. In what ways have you been able to really expand the offerings at ACS alongside Apex's partnership?
Caitlin Fink 04:50
We're so fortunate to partner with Apex and all of their employees for well over a decade. And you know, people want to feel like they're making a difference, and I think that's cool. We've been able to offer in our partnership or just all those different ways that people can feel like they're giving back making an impact, whether that's through our community events, or fundraising or volunteering at our Hope Lodge facilities, there's really an opportunity for everyone. And I think working alongside Erica, we've taken each year, tried to find new, innovative ways to keep things fresh. So it's just been an incredible partnership. Truly, especially in the year like this year, our corporate partnerships mean everything to us. They're the reason that we're able to continue our mission. So it's just been truly an honor for me to work alongside Erica and this team, and really helping them achieve their goals. And like Erica mentioned, over a million dollars, you really can't get any better than that. And so it's just, it's been a wonderful experience for all of us, I think.
Lisette Diamant 05:53
Thank you, that was perfect. So just building on this a bit further, I'd love to talk about some of the really exciting and very creative programs that Erica, you and Caitlin have been able to align on. One of the most recent ones is Gamers vs. Cancer. Erica, can you speak to that a bit?
Erica Woods 06:09
Yes, Gamers vs. Cancer. One of our main philanthropy campaigns is our Quarter of Caring, which just took place October through December of last year, it was our seventh Quarter of Caring as a company. And one of the changes in 2020, when we went virtual, is we hosted more corporate focused virtual events than normal. Typically we do one or two, but we actually did six different corporate focused events, including four that directly supported the American Cancer Society. We participated in their Denim Days in October, but to your point, we also hosted three different Gamers vs. Cancer video game fundraisers, which were amazing. It started kind of a conversation in passing, where Caitlin shared that one of the ways they were raising money still virtually during COVID-19 was a famous athlete simply shared a donation link while he was streaming himself playing video games, such a simple concept. And so I asked her more because I hadn't heard anything about the Gamers vs. Cancer program. And fast forward six months later, we had successfully hosted three Gamers vs. Cancer video games with members of our Apex family internally, as well as friends, family in our consultant and client community. It's been great.
Lisette Diamant 07:29
Absolutely. And Caitlin, what have you seen? Certainly, it's been a difficult time for a lot of nonprofits, a lot of numbers are down. And so, not to focus and hone on the negative, but really, I think it's important to speak to that and the challenges that do exist. And what are some of the ways that you're finding more engagement happening and are able to kind of build out of these challenges into the future for ACS?
Caitlin Fink 07:50
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, if you know anything about ACS, we are a very grassroots organization. I mean, we have volunteers and events all over the country, in every community. And when all of those events are canceled, obviously, you can imagine that's detrimental to our fundraising efforts. So really, we had to adjust because our mission is just too important to say "Oh, you know, this year, it's just not going to work out." Cancer patients are counting on us for our programs and services. So you know, it was really about utilizing digital platforms, utilizing virtual events, or in the case of Apex an entirely new initiative, like Gamers vs. Cancer. For us, it was about telling that story, being transparent and sharing, you know, this is the impact that COVID-19 has had on our organization and our mission. I mean, there are so many ripple effects that come from this pandemic, and it's really sharing that story. And like I've mentioned, providing our constituents with the opportunity to continue to give back and to be a part of our mission. And then you know, of course, making sure that we're showing them the impact that they had on the back end. You know, without partners like Apex, we would not be able to do the critical work that we do. So, that's really, what we're seeing is just finding those different virtual ways to keep people engaged and to tell the story of the impact that this pandemic has had. And again, we are going to keep on going, cancer doesn't stop and neither does ACS. And we have a lot of work still to do. So we're not going anywhere. But you know, we are so thankful for folks like Apex who stand by us in our greatest time of need.
Lisette Diamant 09:36
So to leave our listeners with kind of that final thought, I don't want it to end here on the podcast. I really want everyone to continue to do this work, to do this activism. And certainly it's different in a world that is very virtual based, but it is still possible. So Erica, with a final thought to our listeners, how can they continue in this effort, in this work?
Erica Woods 09:58
One of the goals of all companies right now is what can we be doing to drive better, more effective, more genuine employee engagement. Also give our employees a sense of fulfillment, a sense of purpose, and also just that sense of connection. And so I would encourage you throughout 2021, to think differently. And what else can we be doing to 1. Drive employee engagement, but also add some sort of philanthropic twist to meet all of those needs?
Lisette Diamant 10:31
Absolutely. And Caitlin, what are your thoughts to layer on to that as well?
Caitlin Fink 10:36
Yeah, absolutely. Employee engagement is so critical. And how we continue to create awareness and fund our mission. So I would really encourage the listeners to find ways in their community to give back. If that's the American Cancer Society or any other organization, we need support now more than ever. For ACS specifically, cancer patients are relying on us now more than ever. So if the listeners can find ways to continue to support the organization or volunteer, it's so greatly appreciated, especially during these challenging times.
Lisette Diamant 11:13
Absolutely. Well, wonderful to have you here, Erica. Wonderful to have you. Caitlin, I really feel we've had such a strong, rich discussion to kick the year off here. Thank you both for joining. Wonderful to have you here, Caitlin.
Caitlin Fink 11:24
Thank you so much. This has been great.
Lisette Diamant 11:26
And Erica, great to have you in as well.
Erica Woods 11:29
Likewise, thank you.
Lisette Diamant 11:35
Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Reimagined wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be sharing out a new episode every Wednesday. To learn more about Apex Systems' offerings, visit us at apexsystems.com/insights. You'll find our podcast here along with success stories, articles, news and trends. Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do by Otis Galloway.