EMPLOYER SUPPORTED VOLUNTEERING:
A TRIPLE WIN FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD

By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.
2016 July 18

After a decade from its inception, employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is now widely recognized as a way for Corporate Canada to meaningfully engage in local communities. Volunteer Canada heralds this significant development in its newly-released report, “Leading With Intention: Employer-Supported Volunteering in Canada”.

Through the Corporate Council on Volunteering (CCOV), Volunteer Canada and its corporate partners encourage businesses, regardless of their industry sector or size, to support the volunteer efforts of their employees. They believe that ESV strategically enables businesses, their employees and nonprofits to work together to achieve positive societal impacts in the world.

What is ESV?

Employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is defined as any initiative “undertaken by an employer to encourage and support volunteering in the community by its employees.” It usually falls under an employer’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. It simultaneously aligns with its Human Resources (HR) strategy which covers employee recruitment, retention and professional development. Currently, there are about 4.7 million employees who are supported by their employers to generously give of their time, talent and treasure in the communities in which they live and work.

How is ESV rolled out?

Companies, who are serious about creating shared value, support ESV by enabling their employees to pursue causes they are passionate about through a diversity of community engagement initiatives. As the Taproot Foundation’s table illustrates, ESV can the range from giving financial support to employees’ selected charities, to enabling them to provide hands-on volunteering to empowering them to generously share their skills through skill-based volunteering.

Why ESV matters? The Triple Win

Volunteer Canada’s report highlights the compelling value proposition that ESV provides to businesses, employees and the nonprofits involved as they change the world. The report states the following Triple Win that they achieve:

ESV is a win for Businesses because:

 
It strengthens the company’s image, brand recognition and stakeholder relations; 84% of executives at large companies see direct bottom-line benefits from ESV programs
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It results in 26% higher revenue per employee, 13% higher total returns to shareholders and a 50% higher market premium
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It improves employee engagement, leading to improved communication and recruitment, reduced absenteeism, lower staff turnover and increased retention, which generates more than $2,400 in value
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It supports the development of core competencies and leadership skills in employees
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It builds new external relationships and networking opportunities with and between customers, suppliers and clients; 86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business interests
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It helps create an engaged and motivated workforce and a positive corporate culture; Young professionals aged 18-24 who frequently participate in their company’s ESV activities are twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive
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ESV is a win for Employees because:

 
It connects employees and their workplaces to the causes they care about and allows personal and corporate goals to be met
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It provides the opportunity for employees to engage according to their values, personal preferences and motivations, and helps build pride in their workplace
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It allows employee volunteers to build, develop and share their professional and leadership skills
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It builds relationships between work colleagues, between employees and clients
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It recognizes employees for their personal contributions to community
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ESV is a win for Charities and Nonprofits because:

 
It provides them with diversified and specialized skills, expertise and resources that enhance their sustainability and ability to respond to community needs
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It provides them with hands-on service and support that help them accomplish their goals
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It helps them understand how corporate culture, values and core competencies can be leveraged to impact social change
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And the good news is that ESV is perfectly poised to grow in Canada.

Why?

Canada has the second largest and most robust charitable and nonprofit sector in the world. According to Imagine Canada, 2 million Canadians are employed in the sector and over 13 million Canadians volunteer for the sector. The sector provides about 8.1% of total Canadian GDP, which is more than what the retail sector contributes and almost equal to what the oil and gas and mining sectors contribute.

So ESV as an additional strategic approach to impactful corporate community engagement that has now become mainstream is great news indeed.

As Sir Winston Churchill observed:

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

MEET OUR PARTNERS

  • Alberta's Promise operates within the Government of Alberta’s Department of Human Services. With over 1,800 business, nonprofit and community partners, they help businesses connect with non-profits across Alberta to make meaningful contributions that benefit children and youth ages 0 to 24.

  • CanadaHelps is a nonprofit serving Canadian charities and donors. They increase charitable giving across Canada by making it easier to donate and fundraise online. Because CanadHelps is a charity, their fees are a fraction of for-profit alternatives, making donation dollars go further.

  • The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations is a member-based nonprofit organization founded in 2002 in Edmonton, AB. They serve the nonprofit and charitable organizations in the Alberta Capital Region.

  • The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is the provincial network for the approximately 55,000 nonprofit organizations across Ontario. As a 7,000-strong provincial network, with a volunteer base of 300 sector leaders, ONN brings the diverse voices of the sector to government, funders and business to create and influence systemic change.

  • For over 62 years, Propellus has been supporting volunteers and volunteerism within the communities of Calgary. It strongly believes that volunteering is essential to creating and sustaining healthy, supportive and connected communities.

  • The Sustainability Network is a national organization that works with environmental nonprofits to make them more effective and efficient. Their mission is to enrich environmental leaders and nonprofit organizations so that they can help us all achieve sustainability.

  • Founded in 1943, Vantage Point delivers learning opportunities focused on governance, leadership, planning and people engagement for new and seasoned sector leaders, board directors and managers, aimed at advancing not-for-profit leadership.

  • Women Get On Board is a leading member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. They do this through an engaged community of women and men in Canada committed to advancing gender diversity in the boardroom.

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