How The World’s Biggest Companies Volunteer

At the IAVE World Volunteer Conference held in Singapore in January 2011, Dr Kenn Allen of Civil Society Consulting, a Washington DC-based consulting firm, presented an executive summary of the Global Corporate Volunteering Research Project, a multiyear research project that conducted in depth interviews with 47 of the biggest global companies in the world. These companies included luminaries such as Kraft Foods, Microsoft, Samsung, Standard Chartered Bank and The Walt Disney Company.

This was the first project of its scope and kind and its purpose was to look at:
—Differences in corporate volunteering trends across the world;
—How global companies organise and manage their volunteer efforts.

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7 trends identified in organising corporate volunteering in global companies.

Corporate Volunteering is now a strategic asset that is specifically used to meet business goals. It can build effective teams within the workplace and strengthen employee loyalty and pride in the company.

Inspiring practices is a better way of describing great corporate volunteering ideas since it allows for practices that best serve each situation. On the other hand, “best practices” usually describe popular practices which may not serve well sometimes.

Global and local partnerships with NGOs is an essential element of corporate volunteering because NGOs provide expertise that can guide corporate involvement such as leveraging employees personal professional skills and using existing metrics.

Different philosophies and operations drive corporate volunteering across different companies. It is usually better to implement programmes locally, based on the framework which has been set by the company.

Skills based and International volunteering are new trends. Results are highly effective as employees enjoy the opportunity to use their personal & professional skills and they enjoy travelling; however there are major hurdles in scaling these types of programmes up.

Many companies are not doing due diligence in measuring and evaluating the impact of employee volunteering programmes and seeing if they are meeting their goals. NGOs often can provide their own metrics when companies feel that it is too expensive to do their own impact evaluations. There is no global standard for measuring employee volunteering.

Innovative technology has been used for some volunteering projects, but many times its use is routine and limited. In many cases the workplace may create challenges in accessing technology that supports corporate volunteering.

Case studies of participating global companies and compilation of inspiring practices are available online.