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New Research in March: Value Volunteering is Out Today

By Carmen Perez, Senior Director, Data Insights, CECP

When I was 16 years old, I had a 1989 Honda Accord two-door hatchback and was ready to roll through the streets of my Wisconsin hometown. Where was I headed? To the local domestic violence shelter to offer free babysitting while moms went to a weekly support group. Back then, I just wanted to do something good with my summer and I’d heard of this place Bolton Refuge House. Now, when I look back on that summer when I set up a volunteering opportunity for myself for the first time, I recognize it as a milestone of my prosocial motivations taking flight.

I’m starting with a personal story because today, Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), together with the whole research leadership council, is excited to announce the launch of Value Volunteering! Value Volunteering reimagines workplace volunteering through a deeper understanding of its multi-layered results, centered on impact in the community. The paper breaks new ground by taking a holistic look at the results from workplace volunteering drawing upon existing research, focus groups, the perspective of nonprofit leaders, and more.

We encourage everyone to bear in the mind the personal side of service as you dig into the findings of this research. Acknowledging and becoming evermore specific on the value produced by volunteering is intended to encourage a virtuous cycle that unlocks more time and resources for service activities in companies – always with the foundation centered on community needs and nonprofit partner’s mission achievement. Value Volunteering was chosen as the title because the research hypothesis focused on digging into the specific business values produced and what might affect the “amount” of value. One objective is that anyone who still dismisses volunteering as inessential would instead value it – for everything that volunteering does.

The virtuous cycle will move with renewed urgency because Value Volunteering brings together the extensive, excellent knowledge that relates to volunteering while breaking new ground to go deeper on business results. Key findings include:

  • Social impact and meeting community needs are the main results and value produced through workplace volunteering programs. At the same time, program success can have ripple effects on business results, including reputation, trust, customer loyalty, and more.
  • Workplace volunteering has “built-in” results from high-quality programs. Certain programs also have “built-for” results. Value Volunteering examines each:
    • Built-in results include positive contributions to employee engagement, reputation, trust, and team building.
    • Built-for results include positive contributions to recruitment, leadership skills, customer insights, employee retention, and client relationships.
  • Value Volunteering has proven that people reward companies for high-quality workplace volunteering in terms of reputation, trust, and customer loyalty. Even more, the effect on trust and customer loyalty approximately double when people believe workplace volunteering truly makes a difference.
  • Value Volunteering has found that the most value is created by workplace volunteering programs that are intentional, thoughtfully designed, and authentic. Volunteer program design must be rooted first in the needs of nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders.

Value Volunteering covers so much ground! We hope nonprofit and corporate leaders will feel encouraged to reimagine workplace volunteering as they read:

  • Nonprofit vignettes to show specific volunteering examples.
  • Results from a survey of nonprofit leaders.
  • Program design breakdowns.
  • Volunteer programs broken down into categories.
    • Idea
    • Sketch
    • Blueprint
  • Results from a public opinion survey on perceptions of how workplace volunteering makes a difference.
  • And more!

National volunteer week is coming up April 18-24. As one of many actions you may take, consider having a team discussion of Value Volunteering’s findings. You might uncover some inspiring ways to further embed volunteering at your company while at the same time increasing the pace of positive change, together with your nonprofit partners.