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Corporate Volunteerism – Sharing Your Human Resources

Human Resources
The Rock River Valley is fortunate to be a place where businesses both private and public take their commitment to giving back to the community seriously. Each year millions of dollars are raised to support charitable causes that benefit individuals and non-profits alike. Corporations give generously of their financial resources because they have a common goal in mind – to make the Rock River Valley a safe, vibrant and attractive place to live – and it makes good business sense. What is often overlooked, however, is that companies have more to offer than financial resources. And those human resources can bring about an even greater impact when it comes to sustainable change in the Rock River Valley. Corporate volunteering programs are alive and well and the time has come to make them a staple in this community.

Setting and Example – Corporate Social Responsibility
Some of today’s most well known companies have set the bar when it comes to corporate volunteering programs. Organizations such as GE, Levi Strauss & Company and KPMG each see volunteerism as a corporate social responsibility, which must be fulfilled in the course of their everyday business. Their commitment is reflected in volunteer programs that have been recognized at a national level by the Points of Light Foundation. While there may be “bottom line” benefits to corporate volunteering programs, it is important to note that trying “…to relate that program to something that is tangible in terms of your bottom line is not why you do it.” (Steve Lynn, Tucson Electric). Undoubtedly, right here in the Rock River Valley, there are businesses that are just as committed to corporate volunteerism and social responsibility – are you one of them?  Here are some tips for building on your organization’s social responsibility:

  • Incorporate social responsibility into your business values
  • Be aware of how employee volunteerism helps your company and the community
  • Determine local need to determine long-lasting community impact
  • Determine your businesses core competencies and find organizations which can benefit from that expertise
  • Use the positive value of volunteerism to further community goals

 

How to Get Started
Getting a corporate/employee-volunteering program started may seem a bit overwhelming at first. Perhaps you’re a large organization with hundreds of employees and tens of departments and the task of organizing so many people is difficult at best. Or maybe you are a small business with few staff and it seems your resources are stretched to begin with not to mention taking on a project that isn’t “work related.” Then again, your business may already be committed to volunteerism, but the effort has been limited due to a lack of direction. Rest assured that there are resources available to lighten the load. Following are some concrete steps and organization can take to simplify the task of starting and maintaining a volunteering program:

  • Invite your local volunteer center to come in and recruit within your company
  • Collaborate with a community organization that provides a list of jobs that need doing
  • List your company’s interests with other agencies that need and use volunteers and refer employees to these agencies
  • Start a skills and interest database of interested employees. Record the time that employees are willing to spend volunteering
  • Conduct community needs assessments – or contact a local organization that has done so – such as United Way


You Could Volunteer – But Why?
Your company is seriously considering starting a corporate volunteer program, or you’re ready to take steps to “beef up” what you’ve been doing. The obvious next question is “why?” Keep in mind that if your primary answer to that question is “to impact the bottom line” you may need to re-examine your commitment. Though there is evidence of tangible benefits to organizations implementing corporate volunteer programs, there are no ready examples of businesses’ profitability skyrocketing because they show corporate social responsibility via their commitment to volunteerism. That being said, there are many reasons to pursue such a program including:

  • Support –- communities respond positively to business investment in social needs
  • Retention – employees are more likely to stay with a company that makes a difference in their communities
  • Recruitment – Companies with social responsibility tend to draw more top recruits
  • Teamwork – company sponsored volunteer activities can foster team spirit and allow people to get to know their colleagues outside the workplace
  • Leadership – volunteer opportunities encourage employees to take the lead
  • New Skills – volunteering challenges employees to learn new skills that may help them in their career


Now What?
The above information only begins to uncover the intricacies of corporate social responsibility and volunteerism. For additional information/assistance on how to start or maintain a corporate volunteer program you can contact the United Way of Rock River Valley Volunteer Center at 815-968-5400. Additionally, here are some great resources available through the Points of Light Foundation (www.pointsoflight.org) for any business wanting to learn more about workplace volunteering.


Additional Resources

Points of Life Foundation