Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing: Doing good and talk­ing about it

Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, both for your own employ­ees and for soci­ety as a whole — that’s what Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing is all about. But which projects make sense? And what needs to be con­sid­ered for a suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion? We pro­vide answers.

Suc­cess­ful cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship goes beyond spon­sor­ing a set of jer­seys for the local foot­ball club — in fact it is defined by actu­al tack­ling of the matter,also referred to as Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing. Com­pa­nies that are flirt­ing with an authen­tic com­mit­ment should be able to answer five ques­tions:

Goals — What good is good enough?

With their vol­un­tary engage­ment, employ­ees give some­thing back to soci­ety. But what actu­al­ly? Nar­row­ing the field of engage­ment is a chal­lenge, but at the same time it offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring the cor­po­rate strat­e­gy back to mind.

John Deere, for exam­ple, cov­ers its own mis­sion objec­tives with its social engage­ment: edu­ca­tion, local pri­ma­ry health care and nutri­tion. With the lat­ter in mind, one of the most pop­u­lar events at the plant is the annu­al Day of Car­ing, where employ­ees pack bags of food and donate it to those in need.

Plan­ning and resources — Who are we and if so, how many?

Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing includes more than just the annu­al Social Day. Depend­ing on the objec­tive and tar­get group, oth­er for­mats may be more appro­pri­ate. From one-day events to a six-month place­ment, any­thing is possible.

The crux of any action plan­ning is the ques­tion of resources. Many non­prof­it projects quick­ly inter­fere with oper­a­tional process­es, raise tax and insur­ance issues and have to be dealt with accord­ing­ly. Effort and costs guaranteed.

On the oth­er hand, it is such projects in par­tic­u­lar that have the chance to make a real, prov­able dif­fer­ence: The two-hour work assign­ment is less sus­tain­able than a long-term engage­ment pro­gram. So any­one who is seri­ous about social respon­si­bil­i­ty should not be deterred by high­er costs.

John Deere, for exam­ple, uses a men­tor­ing project in which employ­ees meet with young peo­ple on a week­ly basis to help them get start­ed in their careers. This com­mit­ment, which lasts for six months, costs ener­gy and resources. But the suc­cess rates and indi­vid­ual feed­back from employ­ees and young peo­ple leave no room for doubt: The effort is worth it!

Impact — The search for KPIs?

The ques­tion of what can and should be mea­sured and how depends heav­i­ly on the objec­tives and design of indi­vid­ual mea­sures: The food bags at the Day of Car­ing can be count­ed and com­mu­ni­cat­ed as a total num­ber. The changes that the men­tor­ing pro­gramme has brought about in indi­vid­ual young peo­ple, on the oth­er hand, require much more dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed eval­u­a­tion instru­ments.

Real­is­tic assump­tions about the social impact can only be made togeth­er with the part­ner orga­ni­za­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion knows best how to deter­mine the impact of indi­vid­ual mea­sures. Vice ver­sa, the orga­ni­za­tion should focus on the inter­nal key fig­ures: How many peo­ple have worked for the com­mon good with­out pay and for how long? And has some­thing been accom­plished in the com­pa­ny as a result?

Match­ing — The nee­dle in a haystack?

For Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing to suc­ceed, suit­able orga­ni­za­tions are need­ed to cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for vol­un­teers. Let’s clear up a mis­con­cep­tion right away: Most of the orga­ni­za­tions are high­ly pro­fes­sion­al and speak the same lan­guage as businesses!

Region­al orga­ni­za­tions par­tic­u­lar­ly can pro­vide real added val­ue — they know local needs very well, already have an infra­struc­ture for cor­po­rate engage­ment and offer employ­ees a high degree of identification.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion — con­stant drip­ping wears the stone?

Report­ing well and, above all, con­tin­u­ous­ly on Cor­po­rate Vol­un­teer­ing pro­grams is fun­da­men­tal to its suc­cess. Patience will be need­ed to legit­imize the project inter­nal­ly to super­vi­sors, to moti­vate col­leagues and to win over man­agers. Only then can cul­tur­al change be achieved.

How­ev­er, it is also impor­tant to present the com­pa­ny to the out­side world in a way that is tai­lored to the tar­get group. Those who plau­si­bly por­tray their vol­un­teer­ing project con­tribute pos­i­tive­ly to their image — both inside and out­side the com­pa­ny. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful if you don’t just lose your­self in facts and fig­ures, but make the actu­al impacts of the project quite vivid, per­haps even embed­ding them into a sto­ry. After all, peo­ple like to lis­ten to peo­ple who are doing good things.

What can we do for you?

Dr. Philipp Hoelscher

Member of the Management
+49 30 520 065 309