• Eleanor Thorne

Benefits of Corporate Volunteering

A recent survey in 2016/17 by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations found a staggering 11.9 million people formally volunteered at least once a month. That’s a huge number of people giving up their time for free to help others out. So why do people volunteer despite the not receiving any financial rewards? The three most cited reasons for choosing to volunteer were:


· To improve things or help people

· The cause was important to the person

· The person had enough spare time to volunteer


Whilst the benefits to society are numerous, what does the volunteer get out of it? Research has found that individuals that volunteer report more life satisfaction, lower levels of depression, increased wellbeing and even a lower risk of hypertension for older adults. So volunteering seems to have a beneficial impact all round. But what does this mean for organisations, can business’s also reap the rewards that come with volunteering?


Employee volunteering can be defined as ‘planned, managed efforts that seek to motivate and enable employees to effectively serve community needs through the leadership of the employer’ (Points of Light, 2013). Employee volunteering can be an effective way for a company to give back on either a local or global scale. It is estimated that over 90% of the Fortune 500 companies run employee volunteering programs. It appears that corporate volunteering is on the rise globally and has been described as ‘one of the fastest-growing areas of voluntary activity in both North America and Western Europe. When organisations support employee volunteering programs by approving time off, creating links with local and global charities, modifying employee schedules and offering company resources the average employee will volunteer 45% more hours per year. Which would have a dramatic impact on not just the individuals benefiting from the charities services but also the economy. It’s estimated that economic value of volunteering could exceed roughly £50 billion a year.


But what are the benefits for an organisation that engages in corporate volunteering?


· Demonstrate social responsibility - It has been shown that employees are more attracted to socially responsible firms.


· Increase retention - Research suggests that when employees participate in corporate volunteering programs they become more committed to their employer and identify more strongly with the company.


· Increase skills and satisfaction – Volunteering provides an opportunity for employees to develop skills such as communication and active listening, which will have a positive impact on morale and job performance.


· Improve consumer perceptions - A study manipulating a companies level of volunteer involvement found that consumers tended to have more positive perceptions of corporate volunteering programs and therefore were more like to have a positive perception of the company’s supporting them.


· Positively impact recruitment - A survey by Deloitte found that the majority of ‘millennials’ (70%) reported that a company’s involvement in volunteering programs would have a significant impact on their decision to work at that company.

So what actions can an organisation take if they are interested in starting an employee volunteer program or if they already have on and want to improve it?


So what actions can an organisation take if they are interested in starting an employee volunteer program or if they already have one and want to improve it?


Starting an Employee Volunteer Program

  • Assess employees volunteer interests by carrying out a survey.

  • Assess specific needs of the local community by forging links with local charities and not-for-profit organisations.

  • Secure internal support for the program and ensure buy-in from senior management to ensure employee involvement is encouraged at all levels. Ensure several key senior team members engage in volunteering activities.

  • Measure and assess level of volunteerism.

  • Introduce specific policies regarding volunteering.

  • Take the time to celebrate the success of the volunteers and the program. Take time to thank the volunteers for their efforts.

Improving an Employee Volunteer Program


  • Make sure you are consistently measuring the impact of the program and whether it is meeting the stated goals.

  • Ensure the volunteer program is providing benefits for the volunteers such as developing skills and increasing social interactions.

  • Make sure the success of the program is being demonstrated to clients to increase reputation and improve stakeholder engagement.

  • Take the time to celebrate the success of the volunteers and the program. Take time to thank the volunteers for their efforts.


There are a number of demonstrable benefits for organisations that are involved in corporate volunteering so why not help support International Volunteering Day (5th December) by asking your workplace if you can get involved in an employee volunteering project!


#volunteering #corporatevolunteering #business #internationalvolunteerday #employee


Sources


Binder, M., & Freytag, A. (2013). Volunteering, subjective well-being and public policy. Journal of Economic Psychology, 34, 97-119.


Burr, J. A., Tavares, J., & Mutchler, J. E. (2011). Volunteering and hypertension risk in later life. Journal of Aging and Health, 23(1), 24-51.


Cycyota, C. S., Ferrante, C. J., & Schroeder, J. M. (2016). Corporate social responsibility and employee volunteerism: What do the best companies do?. Business Horizons, 59(3), 321-329.


Economic impact of volunteering - https://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/dec/21/volunteering-economic-value-wellbeing-austerity


Grant, A. M. (2012). Giving time, time after time: Work design and sustained employee participation in corporate volunteering. Academy of Management Review, 37(4), 589-615.


Grant, A. M., Dutton, J. E., & Rosso, B. D. (2008). Giving commitment: Employee support programs and the prosocial sensemaking process. Academy of Management Journal, 51(5), 898-918.


Jenkinson, C. E., Dickens, A. P., Jones, K., Thompson-Coon, J., Taylor, R. S., Rogers, M., ... & Richards, S. H. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC public health, 13(1), 773.


Meier, S., & Stutzer, A. (2008). Is volunteering rewarding in itself?. Economica, 75(297), 39-59.


National Council for Voluntary Organisations – UK Civil Society Almanac 2018 - https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac18/volunteering-overview-2015-16/


Points of Light (2013) - http://www.pointsoflight.org/sites/default/files/corporate-institute/ubm_b4b_whitepaper8.pdf


Rodell, J. B., Breitsohl, H., Schröder, M., & Keating, D. J. (2016). Employee volunteering: A review and framework for future research. Journal of Management, 42(1), 55-84.


Turban, D. B., & Greening, D. W. (1997). Corporate social performance and organizational attractiveness to prospective employees. Academy of management journal, 40(3), 658-672.


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