Corporate Volunteering; Giving Time to Make a Profit

There is less cash out there for your to borrow. Your customers are spending less, less often. And your workforce is about to experience a radical turnover in the next 10 years. What are you going to do about it? Try this simple and proven solution.

Feeling Boxed in by the Financial Crises? Think outside the Box.


Financial crisis getting you down? Starbucks is right there with you. They only made 5 million dollars this quarter, which translates to a 97% loss. That’s pretty bad. And worse when compared to last year’s profit of 159 million for the same quarter. Oh yeah, forgot to mention: this year marks the first loss ever posted in the history of the illustrious Starbucks franchise. Sigh....

What do you do when markets shrink and credit tightens? Well, cut back, of course. Scale down. Save. But what about the talent that you need to hire 5 years from now? The talent that is asking you to be attractive and cutting-edge? And whose eyes could wander to your competition at any minute....? And um, not to pile on the bad news, but in case you hadn’t heard, there’s buzz out there about two simultaneous sociological events that are going to add some squeeze to your resources. One; the boomer workforce is retiring, and taking with them considerable value in experience and relationships. Two; there are fewer people to choose from to replace that talent. A lot fewer.

So, what to do? Cut costs while increasing your competitive sexiness? I know, sounds impossible. Even a little ridiculous.

Ok, let’s start with the basics. You know you’ve got to get creative. You’ve got to become innovative and look to areas of the business beyond making widgets and selling them. “Think outside the box.” Some of the best companies are implementing these strategies and finding them successful. To many onlookers, the particular methods may have nothing to do with the fundamentals of business.

Volunteer - To Be Attractive

I know, I know - it’s always about volunteering with me. But, it’s not just me! Turns out, corporate volunteering is a key strategy for businesses facing the twin obstacles of attracting new customers and new talent. A growing number of news and research articles are citing businesses that utilize Employee Volunteer Programs to secure...what? That’s right, customers and talent. Essentially, EVPs mean profitable business.

Shirley Esterly, Founder and CEO of QuantumWest Inc wrote the following in an article for the Norther Colorado Business Report;

"Statistics show that MBA graduates are willing to accept reduced salaries in order to work in organizations that provide time and resources to give back to the community, country and humanity. The payback from these volunteer activities is not measured in dollars but in good will, reputation and morale."

She goes on to give examples of businesses eager to utilize corporate volunteering as a strategy to make their companies unique and exciting places to work. Read the full article.

Honestly, companies have got to get on board. We really don’t have a choice. The business men and women of tomorrow are stating straight-up that they prefer to work for companies with some serious concern for their social responsibility. Deloitte’s authoritative 2007 Volunteer IMPACT Survey cites that Millenials not only believe their work skills are useful for NPOs, but would prefer to work for companies where they can apply those skills towards some sort of community impact.

"Additionally, although 97 percent of Gen Y volunteers believe companies should provide opportunities for their employees to volunteer their work-related skills or talents to nonprofits, only 39 percent of Gen Y employees say their companies currently provide those types of opportunities. And fewer still (30 percent) found the existing volunteer opportunities to be compelling. Hochberg considers those findings missed opportunities by employers. "

“Many companies have community involvement and volunteerism programs, but they have to resonate with employees if they are truly going to deliver both social and business outcomes,” he said. “Potential recruits want to know they will have the chance to make a valuable difference, and this should be communicated early and often during the recruiting process.”

Volunteer - To Find New Customers

Volunteering is good. We all know that. And it’s also good that the generations of tomorrow seem to care so much about taking care of their fellow human being. Apparently, there’s just no drawback at all because volunteering can also bring new customers your way, and ultimately increase sales - particularly when the volunteering happens on a large scale, in developing countries.

I’m not talking simply advertising and opening new retail outlets. Corporations are sending volunteers overseas to build infrastructure and stronger communities. At the same time, the technical and leadership skills of their employees are being developed! This spring, IBM began sending 100 employees from thirty-three countries to participate in the company's new Corporate Service Corps program. They were sent to Romania, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ghana, and Tanzania. IBM teamed up with three NGO’s to assist with placement of their employees abroad; Citizens Development Corps based in Washington, D.C., Canada-based Digital Opportunity Trust, and Australian Business Volunteers.

But for now, here’s a quick list of some key business benefits:
  • Enhanced public image and better brand recognition (a.k.a: sexiness)
  • Competitive profile for recruiting new prospective talent (Good Companies, Better Employees, 2003)
  • Motivation and commitment among all levels of workforce
  • Less employee absence and turnover
  • Enhanced skills among employees who volunteer for longer term assignments (such as team facilitation, project management, and marketing projects)
  • Positive media coverage at no cost (free advertising is always a good thing)
  • Productivity increases by an average of 6 - 7% (Based on recent research by Kathleen Day and Rose Anne Devlin out of the University of Carleton)
In case you wanted to read up on some of the research, here are some good links:
Can Corporate Volunteering Support the Bottom Line?

Volunteering has positive impact on career says US survey

Recent study validates commitment to corporate volunteerism

Lots of good free articles/research



Okay, next time we get back to our discussion of how to set up an Employee Volunteer Program where you work. See you then.

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Tags: CSR, Citizenship, Corporate, EVP, Employee, Programs, Volunteer, corporate, millenial, recruiting, More…retaining, volunteer, volunteering, volunteers

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