South Africa is among the top three countries in Africa for individual giving (of money or time). Employee volunteerism (EV) refers to formal or organised company support for employees who wish to give of their money, time and/or skills in service of the community.
Trialogue’s last CSI Forum for 2017, presented in partnership with Brand South Africa, explored trends in volunteering, local best practice, how the impact of volunteerism can be measured, the types of volunteering support that NPOs are looking for, and how to effectively manage an EV programme.
— Brand South Africa (@Brand_SA) November 13, 2017
About Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part
It is a nationwide social movement created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa. All people in South Africa are encouraged to contribute some of their time, money and/or skills to making a positive difference in the communities in which they live or work.
— Brand South Africa (@Brand_SA) November 8, 2017
The following is a summary of key discussion points from the session.
Corporate benefits of EV include:
- Improved corporate visibility
- Company positioning as an employer of choice
- Improved workforce loyalty, morale and job satisfaction
- Increased productivity and profitability
- Staff development
Social benefits of EV include:
- Contributing to social development
- Awareness about community needs
- Fostering a spirit of community building
- Despite creating enabling environments for EV – offering time off and exchange programmes with non-profit organisations (NPO) – some companies still struggle with employee participation. This may be due to lack of internal communication about EV offerings and programmes. In an effort to encourage employee participation, some companies offer volunteerism awards. However, general consensus is that volunteers tend not to be driven by awards.
- Many companies reported uncoordinated EV efforts as ineffectual. Online ‘match’ platforms, such as forgood, while useful, can be limiting when employees want to volunteer in remote areas or programmes that are not included on such platforms.
- While more companies are measuring the benefits of EV, it remains underreported since most companies only quantify their skills-based volunteering; possibly to avoid cumbersome admin.
- Budget constraints often impact EV programmes. Companies must find ways to retain interest and involvement through financially challenging periods.
- EV initiatives could be used to create ‘company communities’ that include retired employees and employees’ families, also helping to foster a broader sense of citizenship.
- Companies should be cognisant of millennials priorities, which include working for companies that are socially responsible.
- Ensuring leadership buy-in is essential. An EV initiative that is driven from the top can help to foster a company culture of conscious giving.
- Companies should offer a broad range of EV initiatives, to cater for different employee interests and schedules.
- Communicating the impact of an EV programme can help to keep volunteers motivated and may inspire potential volunteers to get involved.
- Companies must manage stakeholder expectations by being honest with employee volunteers and the communities or non-profit organisations with which they work, about the extent to which they can help.
- Consider depth versus breadth: design EV programmes with multiple touchpoints and primary and secondary interventions.
- Reciprocal and equitable partnerships between companies and non-profit organisations are essential for ensuring impact. A shared value proposition is also important. Companies should understand the capacities of the NPOs that they are working with, since NPOs with a charity model would benefit more from financial contributions, while NPOs with skills-linked initiatives may benefit more from the donation of expert services and skills (e.g. expert assistance with accounting or legal advice).
- Measuring the impact of EVPs makes it easier to motivate for its maintenance. Feedback forms completed by participating staff, as well as NPOs/beneficiaries, could be particularly useful in this regard.
Download the PowerPoint presentation titled: Trialogue CSI Forum on Employee Volunteerism – November 2017
This forum was kindly hosted at Brand South Africa’s offices in Johannesburg, on 7 November and Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun Newlands Hotel in Cape Town, on 9 November