Volunteerism Core Component of CSR, Employee Engagement, Study Finds

Corporate social responsibility and employee engagement practices are evolving rapidly, with volunteerism becoming a core element of both, a report from America's Charities finds.

Based on an online survey of executives at a hundred and twenty corporations, the report, Snapshot 2015: The New Corporate DNA — Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge (32 page, PDF), found that volunteerism has become a central feature in recruitment and retention strategies; that millennials have high corporate sustainability expectations of their employers; and that small and midsize companies are becoming more strategic in their philanthropy and efforts to empower their employees to give time, talent, and money. Among the surveyed companies, 92 percent of large firms and 60 percent of small and midsize firms said they offered volunteer opportunities, 88 percent and 37 percent offered payroll contribution programs, 85 percent and 44 percent offered year-round giving programs, and 70 percent and 28 percent had matching gift programs.

In terms of volunteer strategies, the most common were company-sponsored volunteer projects and projects that encourage employees to team with their peers (71.4 percent). Nearly 60 percent of the companies responding offered paid time off for employees to volunteer, and an additional 21 percent planned to do so in the next two years; nearly 50 percent offered pro bono and skills-based opportunities, and nearly 30 percent planned to do so in the next two years; and 31 percent planned to introduce mentoring programs that pair employees with a nonprofit. The report also found that large companies are more likely than small or midsize companies to use technology platforms to enable employees to give money, record volunteer hours, sign up for or evaluate a volunteer event, or access a corporate matching program. In addition, 82 percent of all respondents said employees want the opportunity to volunteer with peers in corporate-sponsored events, while 70 percent said they want to be able to organize volunteer events.

"The rapid changes highlighted in Snapshot 2015 point the way to greater empowerment of employees to support corporate as well as personal causes," said the report's co-authors, Lynne Filderman and Steve Greenhalgh. "While large companies have led the way, there are tremendous opportunities for small and midsize companies to make these practices work for them and their employees. Our digital culture makes this scale possible."