Corporate America Values Skilled Volunteerism as a Means to Social Change, Survey Finds

Increasingly, corporations regard workplace volunteerism as a means to effect long-term social change and are offering their employees skilled volunteer opportunities, an annual survey from New York City-based Deloitte finds.

According to the 2010 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey (4 pages, PDF), 84 percent of corporate managers believe volunteerism can help nonprofits achieve long-term goals. The survey also found that whereas 50 percent of respondents offered skills-based volunteer opportunities in 2009, 60 percent now report offering options for employee-selected projects, while 64 percent offer options that fit the companies' philanthropic focus. Top criteria for determining workplace volunteer activities include the potential to help mitigate a social problem, help a nonprofit organization function more effectively, help a nonprofit serve more clients, promote good corporate citizenship values, and enhance employee morale.

At the same time, the survey suggests that consistent communication, measurement, and accountability in employee volunteer programs are lacking. Fewer than half the corporations, for example, reported that they always discuss with nonprofits how the volunteer projects will help address short-term needs, create long-term social impact, or help the nonprofits function more effectively, while only 38 percent work with nonprofits to customize metrics to measure the impact of volunteer time.

"Nonprofit organizations are not just looking for more and more people to volunteer; they are looking for people who have specific skills and can help them accomplish sophisticated goals," said Evan Hochberg, national community involvement director at Deloitte Services. "The great news in the data is that companies have begun to look at volunteerism as a means to help accomplish social objectives, but that requires a different conversation than the one that might be had about organizing traditional, hands-on volunteerism events."