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Skills-Based Volunteering Giving Companies More Bang for Their CSR Buck

3p Contributor | Thursday April 14th, 2011 | 1 Comment

The following is a guest post by our friends at Fenton who are attending the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship conference this week.
By Nicole Stipp, Fenton

Many companies are finding the shift to sustained, skills-based volunteering from the traditional en masse trip to the local soup kitchen more rewarding for employees and more valuable for communities – locally and around the world. This “involve-a-teering” method focuses on letting employees help build more sustained capacity-building for organizations. You want to loan your marketing department out to the local art co-op to increase their presence in the national art scene – do it. Does your communications department want to help a local food bank develop a more dynamic social media presence – let them. And better yet, make it part of their salary and benefits.

One of the most innovative examples we heard came from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, showing that this isn’t just something small organizations can do. GSK gives top performing employees the opportunity to participate in their PULSE program, where they can take six months to volunteer anywhere in the world or locally. The program will have placed nearly 200 volunteers in more than 33 countries by the end of the year.

In another example, General Mills pairs agricultural scientists and engineers with small, local producers in Africa to help them improve their health standards and productivity through their Partners in Food Solutions program, which grew out of a previous employee engagement plan that made everyone feel good for the day of the event, but didn’t harness their employees’ passions nor really went to battle the problem of hunger.

Last but certainly not least, we had some time to talk to the head of Net Impact, Liz Maw. She pointed out how millennials in particular continued to be very passionate about making a difference in issues they were passionate about and really wanted to bring their values to the workplace.

Just like we often tell our partners and clients, when you can elevate the experience someone has with your organization – particularly by tapping in to their passions and skills – you are making a deeper and more lasting connection. When you design programs that maximize your employees’ opportunity to feel more connected, they will be the more engaged (which is, in general, the idea of employee engagement!).
You can view the full playlist of BCCCC SHARE videos here.

The Fenton SHARE program is an opportunity for leaders in CSR to shine a light on their valuable programs and spread the important conversations they’re having outside of conference ballrooms and meeting halls. Fenton specializes in building unique and authentic platforms for Good Business that inspire action – and accelerates progress. We believe that the best corporate responsibility programs both do good and are good for your bottom line.


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  • Laura Asiala

    Excellent article on cutting edge CSR and sustainable business practices! I encourage you also to check for the latest announcement from CDC Development Solutions, IBM, and USAID regarding the newly established Center for International Corporate Volunteerism.