Who Gives? – Corporate Volunteering
If the thought of making a greater contribution than the monotonous 9-5 ever enters the mind, it commonly leads down the path of a cash donation to an established foundation. Whilst this may fill a void for a worthwhile cause, it turns out that there are many ways to ‘give back.’
Corporate volunteering is reshaping both the charitable and corporate sectors by connecting skilled employees with nonprofits in need of the skills. It has changed the giving landscape. Domains such as Goodcompany and CorporateVolunteers encourage working professionals to donate time, money or charity gift cards to causes of interest. Not only is corporate volunteering expanding the resources of nonprofits, it is argued that it enhances the appeal of employers and fosters innovation.
Australian software success story, Atlassian, has its own foundation built into the company’s culture. The Atlassian Foundation ensures that 1% of company profit is donated to charity, 1% of employee time is dedicated to Foundation projects and 1% of company equity is donated.
See a group of Atlassian employees volunteering time in one of Good360’s warehouses. The video was shot and edited by a year 9 student for a community service project:
Atlassian Foundation’s model clearly covers the three ways corporates are giving back at a community level:
- Onsite corporate volunteering
- Fundraising initiatives and
- Company donation goals (as a percentage or dollar total).
It may come as no surprise to find that Atlassian has won the’ best place to work’ award two years running.
The idea behind corporate volunteering is to empower and enable individuals to pursue areas of interest, fostering a culture of innovation and change within companies. According to Forbes contributor Ryan Scott, the best corporate volunteer programs are initiated at a collegial level and not initiated by CEO endorsement – due to lack of trust. Pioneering companies ensure that management fosters social impact at a community level. Innovative managers should understand what motivates employees: contributing to causes that touch or inspire employees personally.
Does it Always Work?
In some instances personal projects, philanthropy and volunteering employees’ time can produce great innovations. Google’s Gmail (among other products/services) spawned from an employee’s ‘20% time’ project. The result was free email, for all.
Reports of failed initiatives have surfaced since, and Google’s 20% time has been in the firing line on countless occasions, with claims that only the minority of employees participate (as reported by businessinsider.com.au). Googlers’ 20% time was originally for any personal projects, before having guidelines established around their creative free-time.
Could it be that projects, which aren’t forcefully aligned with company strategy, and rather a greater ideology, yield greater results? It all depends on the goal that is set.
Is it Worthwhile for Business?
The Journal of Business Ethics suggests that successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) models can vastly improve Company-Employee identification, if not target market engagement, furthering the motion of HR adopting CSR and volunteering programs.
A hybridity of marketing and HR now occurs. Where CSR models were once conceived by marketing teams, corporate volunteering (which fits under the greater umbrella of CSR) is being leveraged by human resources for employee engagement and talent acquisition.
Get Involved in Corporate Volunteering
This is the easy part.
- Find a cause that you believe in
- Make contact and offer your expertise
- Invite your colleagues.