Thousands of Optum Employee Volunteers Partner with Local Nonprofits in Five Countries to Help Reduce Health Disparities During Annual Day of Giving

August 09, 2019
  • Global effort part of companywide initiative to help people live healthier lives by addressing social determinants of health

Optum employee volunteers in the United States and around the world worked to make a difference in local communities where they work and live. 

During the company’s second-annual global giving day, more than 3,400 employees in five countries volunteered to support 44 domestic and international nonprofits to help people live healthier lives, reduce health disparities and address the social determinants of health.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nearly 80 percent of what influences a person's health relates to nonmedical issues such as food, housing, transportation, and the financial means to pay for medications, utilities and other services. 

“Much of what influences a person’s health happens outside the doctor’s office,” said Laura Ness, chief of operations, Optum. “By partnering with these socially minded organizations that understand the value of good health, our employees are demonstrating how public-private partnerships can succeed in helping make a positive impact in communities around the world.”

The work of Optum volunteers during its annual giving day ranged from conducting nutritional assessments for children in Cebu, Philippines, and reading to the blind in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to packaging meals for children and the homeless in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Brentwood, Tennessee. Additional volunteer activities included:

  • reading stories and preparing meals with Lakshyam, a nonprofit in Gurgaon, India, that helps lift children and women out of poverty;
  • serving meals for underprivileged college students with the El Meson de Amor Project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which helps students in underserved communities achieve their higher-education goals;    
  • hosting football matches where players donated funds to The Simon Community, a nonprofit in Ireland that provides supportive services that help people access and retain a home;
  • raising funds in office locations globally and supporting virtual fundraising efforts to purchase rice for FreeRice, a global nonprofit that provides rice to people in need around the world; and
  • handing out bags of prepackaged groceries and food items for the underserved and homeless with the Frederick Food Bank of Maryland.

“The support from Optum and its employees goes beyond what they have done today in preparing food and serving meals to families in need,” said Liz Tenpas, director of development, The Sheridan Story. “Optum employees help our organization throughout the year, and their support of our mission to fight child hunger is helping lift up people in need by addressing social factors that can improve their lives.”

“Our mission in helping enhance the lives of disadvantaged children and women in India couldn’t be achieved without the support of volunteers and community partners like Optum,” said Raashi Aanand, founder of Lakshyam. “The personal interaction through storytelling and helping provide nutritious meals is making a meaningful impact on their lives.”

According to a 2017 report by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch, employee volunteerism positively affects the health and well-being of the people who participate, and strengthens their connections to their employers. The study also found that almost three-fourths of employees who volunteer through work report feeling better about their employer, and 91 percent believe it is important for an employer to allow employees to volunteer on company time.

Optum’s global day of giving included coordinating employee volunteer events and activities in 36 locations in six distinct geographies worldwide that included 14 communities in Brazil, India, Ireland, the Philippines and 20 communities in the United States. Employees, regardless of their location, were able to participate, helping nonprofit organizations, such as the World Food Programme’s FreeRice campaign, through virtual support and donations.

About Optum

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 165,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). For more information, visit