The R.O.I. of Volunteering

From Gail Billingsley:

Ask any executive if it is a good thing if their employees volunteer in the community and the answer will mostly like be an emphatic “yes.”Ask why, and the conversation may get interesting.

In studies by Boston College, 64% of executives surveyed said that community outreach has tangible business benefits.  84% of executives at large companies see direct bottom-line benefits, although it is difficult, at best, to track.  “Reputation” was cited as a major driver of corporate citizenship, tied with “volunteerism fits our company’s traditions and values.”

Gail Billingsley and others volunteering at the YMCACorporate volunteerism has been transforming from strictly writing checks to hands-on participation in local and global initiatives.  In 2010, Bank of America reported (.pdf) 1.3 million hours of service by their employees ranging from teaching financial education to serving meals to the homeless.  BoA gives every full-time employee 8 hours of paid time off each month for volunteer activities and has a goal of reaching 1.5 million hours in 2012.  Why?  “…to strengthen our business, improve our relationships with customers and clients, and create opportunity…”

Volunteerism, as part of a company culture, is also a powerful incentive for Gen Y (18-26 year olds) employees.  Deloitte & Touche USA released results from their Volunteer IMPACT survey stating that 62% of these talented young professions said they would prefer to work for companies that provide volunteer opportunities.

So what does this mean for corporations?  Corporate culture may be what attracts, or repels, future employees.  It may also define how corporations are seen by their communities and customers. 

Gail Billingsley is the Director of Marketing and Strategic Planning for Smart College Visit and works as a marketing strategy specialist with clients in Virginia and New York.

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