First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michal Alter: Like most of the world, we have had to make a lot of adjustments in the wake of COVID-19. But we are fortunate enough to be healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Visit.org.
Michal Alter: As one of the first female pilot cadets in the Israeli Air Force and a Computer Science Engineer, I worked as a Systems Architect at Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN), and at Risk Modules, both part of the thriving Israeli high tech industry. My passion for social development began as the Director of Refugee Affairs at the City Government in Tel Aviv, where I led social service delivery and programming to serve 20,000 refugees from Darfur, South Sudan, and Eritrea. After moving to New York, I consulted at various leading nonprofit organizations, including New York Cares, Solar Ones, UNESCO, and Women’s World Banking.
With over 15 years of experience, I founded Visit.org by combining my love for technology with my dedication to social development. The result is a platform and service that connects corporations and their employees to causes they care about.
How does Visit.org innovate?
Michal Alter: As an unprecedented number of companies have had to migrate to a work-from-home model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are giving back, and employee engagement programs have had to evolve as well. From relying on in-person activities, they have had to learn to accommodate remote participants.
Visit.org’s platform and service help Human Resources, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Diversity & Inclusion teams in enterprise companies enter the world of online employee engagement through meaningful virtual Volunteer and social impact experiences — 100% of which benefit nonprofits and social enterprises.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Michal Alter: Before the pandemic, Visit.org mainly offered in-person corporate volunteering and team building activities for a cause. With the onset of COVID-19 and the social distancing requirements that followed, it became impossible to continue physically gathering large groups together.
However, the crisis had little impact on the Visit.org team’s motivation to continue serving both our corporate and nonprofit partners. We soon realized that we were not alone. Since the pandemic and subsequent quarantines began, we have been able to grow our roster of corporate and nonprofit partners, as well as create one of the world’s largest inventories of virtual team volunteering activities.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michal Alter: In March 2020, faced with all the unknowns of the pandemic, Visit.org’s leadership made the painful decision to disband the entire team. During this difficult season, team members continued to volunteer or work part-time to relentlessly innovate and grow the business. Now, 7 months later, we’re proud to say that we have reassembled our team from March, plus added a few more members. We learned that with a great team of passionate individuals, we could make the impossible happen.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Visit.org in the future?
Michal Alter: At Visit.org, it is important for us to build a company culture that prioritizes team members’ wellbeing. Because our entire team is working remotely, we nurture this culture virtually. While individuals are invited to share their concerns and needs, we also make a point to address stress and anxiety as a team through various activities such as group meditation, storytelling, dancing, and other remote activities that promote on mental and physical wellness — all of which benefit a good cause and are available on our platform for corporate teams to book.
In the future, we see ourselves as being not just the leading virtual and in-person volunteering provider for enterprises of all sizes around the world, but also one of the top companies to work for.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michal Alter: Today, there is no other company who provides the same end-to-end service that we do. We don’t only offer corporate partners a robust inventory of vetted, curated virtual social impact opportunities all over the world, but also fully customize the itinerary of events that is right for them, based on any criteria that they set for us. Examples for such criteria include cause areas, geographical spread, type of experiences (team volunteering, individual volunteering, skills-based volunteering, fun team building wrapped around impact and more), the cadence of events, and more. We partner up with companies to build their ongoing employee engagement itineraries for the year as well as on putting together their global Month/ Week/ Day of Service. We are there with them 24/7, 365 days a year, to ensure we continuously adjust the itinerary based on employee feedback. And we also support nonprofits and other do-good organizations in creating meaningful and engaging experiences that increase awareness and funding for their cause.
We see the demand for both remote and in-person corporate social impact opportunities continuing beyond the pandemic, and we are confident that we offer the best win-win solution for this need.
Your final thoughts?
Michal Alter: Companies interested in learning more about our service and platform may book a demo on our site, or contact us at impact [at] visit.org.