How businesses can benefit from being good
Sara Burdon from Volunteering Matters (previously Community Service Volunteers) explains why doing the right thing could be of benefit to businesses as well as their local communities.
The news is full of stories about Corporate Social Responsibility and companies getting involved in their local communities, but for many busy, cash-strapped businesses the idea of giving employees a day off to volunteer still sounds crazy.
But there is great deal of evidence – both statistical and empirical – that businesses can gain a real advantage by acting charitably in this way.
The first and most obvious reason is positive publicity.
As consumers, and even other businesses, get ever more picky about which companies they use and which products they buy, companies need to adapt and show that they care about the environment and the communities in which they operate.
“Eighty-four percent of the British public believe that knowing about a company’s activities in society and the community is important in forming an opinion about that organisation,” concluded a report by MORI in 2003.
Doing an employee volunteering challenge is a great way to show the community that you care and get local newspaper and radio coverage of what you’re doing.
If you’re looking to improve morale or team relations then a team building challenge could be the way forward. Teams have to work together and often colleagues who have barely spoken before return to the office with a far better working relationship.
“The experience taught us far more about teamwork in one day than any course could,” argues Clare Waymouth at Barclays bank.
Volunteering can also improve your staff’s skills base. Working in a different environment makes people think in different ways; problem-solving skills can be developed alongside organisation, communication, teamwork and leadership skills.
It can also be immensely satisfying and everyone from chief executive down can be made to feel like they’ve achieved something.
John Marshall of Cowgill Holloway, a firm of accountants based in Bolton, believes that volunteering offered equal benefits to his businesses and to the local community.
Indeed, hundreds of small businesses in the UK have benefited from volunteering. Previously PR agency QBO Bell Pottinger decided to follow the lead of some of their major clients and took part in CSV Make a Difference Day.
They were provided with a local project by one of the campaign’s charity partners and turned up for a day’s hard graft on the community garden.
Despite the shock of digging and the dirt, they all enjoyed the day and found morale and working relations improved. Now they are planning to go back to help at the garden in the future.
We believe events such as CSV Make a Difference Day are a fantastic introduction to volunteering.
The programme is free to take part and you get a free action pack full of useful materials to help. The activity organisers’ booklet gives advice from remembering to buy tea and biscuits and checking toilet facilities through to risk assessments.
The media toolkit will help you maximise the publicity you gain from the day, while thank you certificates and donated goods help you to thank every staff member for their input.
Your project will be listed on the website under a searchable activity locator so anyone interested in volunteering locally will be able to find out what you’re doing.
Activity ideas and more information can be found at volunteeringmatters.org.uk.