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Friday, February 10, 2012
The Utility of Corporate Volunteering
By: Stephen Delaney
In today’s economic climate, nonprofits are seeing an increased trend in corporate volunteerism. A recent article on Fast Company argues that corporations can provide more meaningful support if they lend their “manpower and expertise.” The author argues that financial contributions are not the best use of a corporation’s resources. Certainly, nonprofits can benefit from free training and other pro bono services a corporation could provide. Yet, it’s important to note that this article was written from a corporation’s perspective by Ali Marano, Vice President of Technology for Social Good at JPMorgan Chase.
Do nonprofits agree? Is corporate volunteerism an adequate substitute for dollars? Corporations may crave the PR they can whip up by saying they are taking an active role and accomplishing a concrete task for a nonprofit. Yet, what about the nonprofit’s ever-present financial demands for the less glamorous costs of administration and general operations?
Marano’s counter to this question is that organizations can redirect funds allocated for whatever project the corporation helps with and “invest them in other areas to directly meet their missions.”
What do you think?
For more information on corporate volunteering, you can see the story on Fast Company.
The HandsOn model is the only one I'm aware of that endeavors to educate the CSR representative about the cost to the nonprofit of accepting the corporation's volunteer corps. Invariably, service comes on the business' terms, on a date and time most comfortable for the company. They often use this as a team-building exercise as well, so another level of engagement needs to be considered when designing an activity. The Volunteer Center in San Francisco put together an amusing video on this topic:
The Social Venture Partners model of "giving" to nonprofits is one that may answer this question. SVP's in cities across the country give both money, and also the time/expertise of the partners to help the nonprofits strengthen their orgs. and build capacity. In virtually every survey of the nonprofits who have received SVP "investments", the nonprofits say that the time/expertise of the partners was worth far more to them than the money. Go to www.svpi.org for more info.
Civic Ventures sponsors a program called the Encore Fellowships, which are underwritten (at least in part) by corporations. Social Venture Partners in Portland is one work host. I'm involved with the Central New Mexico program that Intel has funded for its retirees - half-time fellowships for a one year period to accomplish high impact work in the nonprofit sector. See http://www.encore.org/.Post a Comment
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