What are the Elements of a Good Corporate Nonprofit Partnership Around Employee Engagement?

What are the Elements of a Good Corporate Nonprofit Partnership Around Employee Engagement?

by Robin Boggs
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Evaluate nonprofit partnerships for appropriate investment balance between financial & human resources | http://3bl.me/snq4at via @CSRwire

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Robin Boggs is the US Corporate Citizenship Lead for Accenture

Friday, March 13, 2015 - 12:30pm


At Accenture our employees are an important part of our Corporate Citizenship initiatives. Our approach is to evaluate every nonprofit partnership opportunity for the appropriate balance of investment between our financial and human resources. What we’ve heard is that the time and skills of our people often are valued more by the recipient organization than our cash, though certainly financial support is also appreciated and often necessary! Accenture looks for two ways our people can engage in any partnership:

  •  Pro bono projects with defined scope, milestones and deliverables where our people contribute during work hours
  •  Volunteering (general or skilled) through which our people contribute on their own time

We collaborate with our nonprofit partners to determine which type of Accenture employee engagement is appropriate for the need. The variables we consider when deciding whether pro bono or volunteering will be the best fit are scope, available capacity, criticality to the nonprofit’s operations and timeframe for delivery. Whichever route we choose, I see 5 key elements that have proven important in successful partnerships around employee engagement: 

  1. Leadership: Each partner in the program must have a respected leader to scope and manage the relationship and participation of its people.  An enthusiastic, dedicated pro bono sponsor working with a nonprofit executive is a key factor in our being successful. These leaders believe in the value of the partnership and can bring the right resources to make it thrive.
  2. Clear Expectations: We spend a lot of time with new nonprofit partners making sure that we understand what the organization is trying to accomplish and communicating what difference Accenture is seeking to make in the communities where our people live and work. What is the goal of the partnership? What is expected to be delivered through a project or event? What experience does the company expect for its employees? What experience does that nonprofit seek for its clients?
  3. Sufficient Financial Resources: Volunteering in their own time might be free for the employee, but it costs nonprofits real money to create opportunities for people to engage, particularly for large-scale and custom events. Organizations that can articulate those costs are more likely to receive the appropriate level of cash funding to deliver the project.
  4. Impact: Employees need to understand what difference their participation in a project will make for the nonprofit organization and for the company. Accenture shares how a project will contribute to our goals around Skills to Succeed. Our nonprofits talk about how the projects improve their ability to deliver services and pass on the stories of personal impact from their beneficiaries.
  5. Opportunity: Employees must feel empowered to contribute and to identify new ways to contribute to the partnership. Meanwhile, leaders must remain open-minded and find creative ways for employees to contribute their time and talents.

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Robin Boggs is the US Corporate Citizenship Lead for Accenture, where she is responsible for outcomes from Skills to Succeed and environmental stewardship initiatives. She leads a $20M pro bono and cash giving portfolio and all employee engagement programs for 45,000 US employees in 32 locations.  In addition to her Accenture responsibilities, Robin also serves on the Advisory Council for the Charities@Work annual conference and is member of the board of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals. Click here to learn more about Robin.