Corporate Volunteering: the challenges, the learnings and the future

The second Good Values ‘Big Thinkers’ Round Table for CR and Sustainability leaders focused on Corporate Volunteering: the challenges, the learnings and the future. Such was the level of interest in this topic that the initial session was repeated to enable more CR leaders to participate – a total of 22 across the two events.

Good Values opened the evening with a summary of findings from its recent corporate volunteering report. This in depth qualitative research, which interviewed 30+ companies, aimed to provide practical insight into how corporate volunteering programmes are delivered, and evidence-based learnings to help corporate volunteering practitioners with the development of their own programmes.

Following this, Rachel Allan (former UK Community Strategy & Development Manager, Barclays) gave an insight into corporate volunteering at Barclays. Rachel outlined why volunteering is a priority for the business and what has ensured the programme’s success – 40% of Barclays employees engaged in volunteering last year.

The final presentation from our panel of speakers was from Colin Jones, former Director of Youth Volunteering at the London Development Agency. He gave his perspective on the political imperatives and social drivers for the Mayor’s Office Team London initiative, and highlighted the challenges and opportunities that embedding a new volunteering programme within an organisation presents.

After a Q&A session, Good Values facilitated a general discussion about corporate volunteering. This highlighted a number of key issues and challenges faced by those responsible for delivering corporate volunteering programmes.

The ‘Big Thinkers’ debated the impact of traditional volunteering (e.g. gardening/decorating) verses skills-based volunteering. They shared ideas on sourcing skills-based volunteering activities, increasing skills-based volunteering, and how to ensure the right balance of types of volunteering opportunities within a corporate programme.

This led to a discussion around NGO capacity and the challenges that companies face in partnering with NGOs on volunteering programmes (equally recognising the issues that companies’ demands for volunteering opportunities can place on NGOs). There was a feeling that this is the time for a sea-change, where companies and NGOs can work together to co-create volunteering programmes.

Securing the support of senior management and the challenge of truly embedding volunteering within an organisation was another key topic of conversation, with examples of how companies have ensured this.

Measurement and reporting also featured highly in the debate. Most CR leaders are struggling to capture data on their volunteering programmes and many senior managers are still only interested in the ‘big’ metrics such as number of hours volunteered. It was noted that whilst measuring business and community impacts is key to those running the programmes, it is more difficult to capture this type of data.

This is only a short summary of the full discussion. If you would like to know more about this ‘Big Thinkers’ discussion, or our other ‘Big Thinkers’ events, please contact us.

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