Volunteering in a Community-Business Partnership
Volunteering is one of the most popular forms of community business partnership.
Because the community benefits are tangible to corporate staff who volunteer, the sense of giving back to the community is stronger than it is when making a donation, for example.
Volunteering Australia says 60% of companies offer staff between one and three paid days a year for volunteering. More than a third of companies have a full-time staff member managing employee volunteering.
The Business Council of Australia has encouraged all companies to consider establishing employee volunteering programs to meet staff demands for corporate community investment and for direct involvement in community programs.
A Deloitte&Touche USA 2007 survey of 18-26 year-olds found 62% would prefer to work for companies that give them opportunities to "contribute their talents" to not-for-profit organisations.
For many community groups, volunteerism is a way of life. So a partnership based around volunteering helps them attract more numbers to complete tasks or projects they have on the go and that would not normally be able to be completed. This can increase a group's profile in the community and give its membership a boost.
From a business perspective, volunteerism has been found to increase the morale and positive feelings of your staff towards your company, engender staff loyalty, increase productivity and promote the concept of teamwork through some "hands-on'' work. Many companies have staff volunteering programs or actively encourage staff volunteerism and offer incentives to staff who take part.
Don't assume that volunteers will necessarily be useful to a community group. Sometimes they don't need any more elbow-grease - they may just need money, or other resources. Or the cost to the community group of organising volunteering opportunities could outweigh the value of the assistance provided.
You need to ensure that the value to the community group and to your company outweighs the costs to both. One way of overcoming the "volunteer value gap" is to offer skilled volunteering, where your staff share their professional expertise (in accounting or marketing, for example) rather than just stuffing envelopes or planting a garden. See the Skilled Volunteering help sheet.
Volunteering can involve: