The Business and Social Case for Corporate Volunteering
Submitted by unitedway, 18 May 2012
Much has been written about the business case and the social case for corporate volunteering. Typically, these cases have been defined using the survey results of CSR managers and NGO leaders. Rarely, had the perspectives of corporate volunteers been explored. The experience for the corporate volunteers is key for United Way in starting a volunteering journey that leads to creating community impact.
United Way Australia is a leading Australian NGO focused on community impact by mobilising the caring power of the community and in particular, harnessing the capabilities and assets of businesses. Corporate Connect is our long standing team volunteering program which links corporate volunteers to community projects. In 2011 we delivered 205 community projects nationally, engaging 3,152 volunteers who contributed 12,479 hours to impact lives of over 15,000 people.
We know from previous research and rigorous selection processes that this work delivers tangible benefits for local communities and NGOs; but what about the corporate volunteers themselves? The surveys were completed by a solid 29% of volunteers nationally and, as well as giving us positive feedback on the program itself, it provided 2 interesting insights.
1. Corporate volunteering is a gateway for those new to volunteering
It’s encouraging to see that corporate volunteering encourages people to start a volunteering journey .Last year, 36% of corporate volunteers reported that they were volunteering for the first time. There is a great deal of variability in this figure, which reflects the length of the United Way relationship and the size of the company. The good news is that once people have volunteered, they all want to volunteer again with over 50% saying they would like to make a larger contribution to the community.
Nationwide 35% of Australian adults volunteer, with rates in Sydney as low as 16%. Clearly corporate volunteering is a critically important pathway to encourage more people into volunteering. It’s also the most effective way of accessing large groups of people to make a contribution within the community.
2. Corporate volunteering has a strong business case
Over the last few years we’ve been looking at the impact of the experience on the volunteers. Encouragingly corporate volunteers tell us that, as a result of the volunteering experience, they have:
- Strengthened their relationship with their peers (97%), and
- Are more willing to contribute to their company (86%).
These results are all the more pertinent when considered alongside recent research from Gallup and Macquarie Economics Research on the business impact of employee engagement. This study showed a clear link between companies with higher levels of employee engagement and profitability.
It’s clear that there’s much to be gained through corporate volunteering; for communities, businesses and employees. Our research provides a compelling case to increase focus on corporate volunteering as a sustainable strategy for businesses to engage employees and to help build a stronger community.
Gabrielle Kay and Doug Taylor
United Way Australia
 ABS 2006 Census
 Harter, JK, Schmidt, FL, Killham, EA, Agrawal, S, 2009. Q12® Meta-Analysis:The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes, Gallup Inc.
 Kay, A., 2011. Evaluating employee engagement, Macquarie Economics Research