Never mind the resolutions; here are some ideas on how to make your international corporate volunteering programme 2023-ready
By Amanda Bowman | 19 January 2023
Whether or not you’re the kind of person that makes (or breaks) resolutions each January (or even avoids them completely), a new year does provide the opportunity to set some priorities for things to start, stop and do more or less of over the coming twelve months. Even if you have already put your corporate volunteering plans in place for the year, here are some ideas of how you might adjust them to make sure that they’re meeting your business goals, the needs and interest of your employees as well as most crucially making a difference to your community and NGO partners.
1. Does your corporate volunteering align with your organisational purpose, culture and overall strategy?
Could it be time for a refresh of your volunteering strategy; your partners and the type of opportunities you offer employees? With more employees working at least some of the time remotely, does this mean a rethink of what kind of volunteering is going to be most effective for the workforce of 2023?
2. Do you know what your employees care about?
Climate change, diversity & inclusion and economic inequality are all high on people’s list of things they want their companies to be taking action on. Are you providing corporate volunteering opportunities on these and the other issues that employees care about and that are aligned with your business goals? And are you asking the right people and the right questions rather than asking the same people you always have the same questions?
3. How are you taking account of the different cultures and contexts for volunteering around the world?
Are there parts of your operations where your programme offer isn’t getting the traction you’d hoped for? Are there groups within your organisation that don’t feel included? How can you get the insights you need to ensure that your colleagues are excited and engaged with your programmes?
4. Are you clear about what success looks like for your volunteering programmes?
Many companies are great at measuring the amount of volunteering taking place but does that tell you whether the activity is actually making a difference – to the volunteer, to the organisation they’re volunteering with or to the community you’re part of? Moreover, to what extent is the work helping you achieve your overall CSR or sustainability goals? And, if you are seeing some great impact, how are you telling the stories about what you’ve achieved?
5. How can you future-proof your corporate volunteering programme?
Do you have mechanisms in place to hear from your stakeholders about their needs – both short and long term? With a rise in employee activism and younger employees looking for less traditional forms of engagement, with community partners’ resources being stretched in ways they may not have planned for, stakeholder engagement is critical to your programme’s success.
6. Are you making the most of your international (and/or flagship) volunteering programmes?
You want to maximise their impact and ensure they are returning the investment of time and resources from both the business and your partner’s hosting employees. Check out the insights from Emerging World’s Corporate International Service Learning research to help you continuously improve your in-person and virtual programmes.
7. Can you integrate learning and leadership development more into your volunteering programmes?
You know that employees are developing a wide range of skills and competencies through their volunteering but have you shared this with your HR colleagues and have they told you about their priorities so you can see how they align with your thinking?
At a time when the ESG agenda is ever more critical and as we emerge from the pandemic, companies are telling us they need more effective and impactful corporate volunteering programming that connects people to the issues that matter and helps to build their corporate culture. And all that while there’s war in Europe, and we’re facing a cost of living, climate and food security crisis. So never mind the resolutions, think about how to take the right steps to ensure you create the best impact with the resources you have available.