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ESPN’s 40,000 Acts of Service 
2020 Social Impact Award Winner

To celebrate ESPN’s 40th anniversary, the company created the 40,000 Acts of Service initiative. The initiative went beyond a traditional volunteer program by encouraging employees to be “of service” to each other, thus fully living the company mission and inspiring others to act as well. 

ESPN’s Citizenship team created toolkits for human resources and Employee Resource Groups to utilize at meetings and events with a goal of engaging employees across the company. 

Logo, company name    Description automatically generatedAn internal website, ESPNServes.com, was created to help employees quickly log their acts, track collective progress and post photos of their efforts. The site also provided useful guides, the ability to upload photos, commenting capabilities, and volunteer programs and project opportunities. 

Every Wednesday throughout the campaign, ESPN hosted pop-up stations on its Bristol, Conn. campus to give employees an opportunity to perform an act of service. From writing cards to active military personnel, packing back-to-school backpacks and collecting sports equipment, these unique opportunities on campus allowed employees to perform an act of service and log it. Similar stations driven by Regional Volunteer Champions were set up in ESPN’s remote offices to include employees in all markets.  

As a sports organization, ESPN employees live and breathe competition, so friendly department challenges and incentives were set up to encourage participation. As incentives to participate, the Corporate Citizenship team provided limited edition 40th anniversary Team ESPN jerseys to employees who logged at least 25 acts of service. Additionally, the 40 employees with the highest level of engagement at the end of the program received grants to direct towards their charities of choice.  

The program not only empowered employees, it shifted their perceptions on how they can serve others to create positive change, big and small, in their communities. One employee was so inspired that he read to local students during his honeymoon in Jamaica. While volunteering at a local food pantry, an ESPN business segment recognized that there was not enough food, so they organized a food drive.  

In the first two months of the program, ESPN employees across 14 office locations achieved the company’s goal of performing 40,000 acts, and ultimately generated over 80,000 acts to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.