How to Create an Authentic Social Impact Program with Michael Newhall from Sentinel Benefits

changemakers- michael newhall

What we learned from talking to Michael Newhall from Sentinel Benefits:

Meet Michael Newhall, the Vice President of Business and Community Development at Sentinel Benefits. 

We are so excited that Michael joined us for our first Changemakers podcast episode. Don’t have time to listen to the episode right now? 

(Or if you do, check it out:)

Here’s the low-down on what we talked about with Michael about all of his work at Sentinel Benefits and the philanthropic program he created, SentinelCares.  

Michael joined the company 6 years ago and knew the founding CEO, John Carnevale, from his childhood. 

As a benefits and coverage consulting firm, they want to understand how to create a benefits program that gives back so that they can be more authentic about what the company promotes as its mission. 

If you don’t know, Sentinel Benefits is a full service employee benefits firm. Essentially, they work with companies to help them with their group insurance, their retirement plan, and to ensure that employees and their families have the right type of benefits and coverage

Not only that, but they work with heads of companies to help them understand the importance of rolling out a benefits plan that focuses on the employees so they can have an emotional attachment to the company.

So now that we learned a bit more about Sentinel Benefits, we wanted to learn more about how Michael’s role came about: 

“The only thing I feel like we had to overcome at the beginning was: “Can we do this the right way?”

In creating this philanthropic program at Sentinel Benefits, the team didn’t want to start from scratch. 

Michael and the team looked towards publications that were highlighting companies with programs like this put in place and wanted to put a program together that would eventually be recognized for doing things the right way.

They called their program SentinelCares. And just wait until you read about all of the programs they do. 

The biggest benefit SentinelCares brings to their organization is bringing awareness and advocacy to the nonprofits supported by the program. 

A lot of people don’t really understand how to volunteer and how to get involved, so internally this has worked to help educate and open the eyes for employees to help the message sink in. 

1.Volunteer Days

And Sentinel employees have a ton of chances to participate. They have between 30-35 volunteer days per year where they go onsite to nonprofits all around the state. 

Their volunteer days aren’t just for Sentinel employees either, they’ve created programs and days where their clients, and even families, can be involved in those volunteer days to be involved in understanding just how much Sentinel really does care. 

2. Memorial Scholarship

SentinelCares doesn’t just focus on their employees, clients, and families, they also have a scholarship program for students at St. John’s preparatory school, located in Danvers Massachusetts. 

3. Nonprofit Speaker Lunches

Beyond volunteer days and scholarships, SentinelCares has a program called “Helping Others” that’s a speaker series. This brings in people from nonprofits that share updates about their mission or something special happening in the organization during lunch to Sentinel employees. 

This helps with bringing awareness to all the nonprofits that SentinelCares can connect employees to and connects them to local nonprofits to start getting involved with. 

4. Committee to Spearhead the Vision

Michael has created such an amazing culture of philanthropy that he has a committee of people within Sentinel Benefits that act as a committee that works on the initiative. 

5. Voting on a Yearly Theme

Every year, the SentinelCares committee will pick a theme for the year to help them determine the direction of their philanthropic efforts so they can make the largest impact. 

6. Employee Match 

If 30-35 volunteering days and “Helping Others’ programs weren’t enough, Sentinel Benefits also offers an employee matching program, which will match the donations of their employees up to a certain amount for the charities of their choosing. 

7. Impact Grant

If that’s more your speed, you can also apply to the SentinelCares Impact Grant, where you describe your personal involvement of an organization and can be one of the lucky 3-4 who gets to give back at a larger scale through the grant. 

What’s next for the SentinelCares program? They want to get broader involvement with their programs to show them what they really care about. 

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