Mars Agency: About 65% of employees volunteer as part of Start Small initiative

The Mars Agency launched its Start Small initiative last year with the goal of donating $1 million of agency time and funds to charities.

A group of employees who volunteer to lead the initiative work with local nonprofits to organize volunteering opportunities. Those efforts range from assisting Habitat for Humanity and Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan Metro Detroit to working with the GlamourGals Foundation in New York, said Mars COO Rob Rivenburgh.

Mars gives employees another paid day off to volunteer.

“All we ask is they do a little write-up so we can all share their experience,” Rivenburgh said.

About 65 percent of Mars’ 300 employees are volunteering through the program, he said, many picking their own volunteer opportunities at local churches, schools and other nonprofits.

An unusual component of its volunteer program is a monthlong sabbatical awarded to an employee to volunteer at an area nonprofit. Last year, Mars granted sabbaticals to five employees.

This year, it awarded one, to its creative director Tania Macioce, Rivenburgh said. She’ll split her time, providing marketing and design support to the Michigan chapter of the Arthritis Foundation for two weeks during the fall and then another two weeks next summer to assist with efforts around its summer camp for children with juvenile arthritis.

Published Crain’s Detroit Business, October 27, 2014