Corporate America Gives Workplace Volunteerism a Strong Vote of Confidence as Means for Long-term Social Change

Deloitte survey finds businesses believe volunteerism has power to make real difference
May 3, 2010 7:35 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) New York - May 3, 2010 - Corporate America is giving workplace volunteerism a strong vote of confidence as a means to make a significant, long-term difference in their communities. According to the 2010 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, more than eight in 10 companies (84 percent) believe that volunteerism can help nonprofits accomplish long-term social goals, and are increasingly offering skills-based volunteer opportunities to employees. In fact, corporate managers report that the top priorities when determining workplace volunteer activities include the potential to alleviate a social issue (36 percent), help the nonprofit function more effectively (31 percent) and serve more clients (31 percent). Conversely, while volunteerism is often widely cited for its benefits related to employee recruitment and retention, criteria related to business interests ranked lower.

Top criteria when determining volunteer activities, as identified by the survey respondents:

  • Has high potential to help alleviate a societal issue (36 percent)

  • Helps the nonprofit function more effectively (31 percent)

  • Helps the nonprofit serve more clients/beneficiaries (31 percent)

  • Helps build our brand (15 percent)

  • Enhances employee morale (23 percent)

“For years we have championed the belief that volunteerism can accomplish significant social goals, and it’s clear that the needle is moving in that direction,” said Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer, Deloitte LLP. “At a time when nonprofits need support more than ever, we are encouraged to find that companies realize the high potential of skilled workplace volunteerism to help them meet philanthropic objectives.”

Value of skilled volunteerism realized

Businesses overwhelmingly agree on the value of skilled volunteerism. More than nine in 10 (91 percent) respondents agree their employees’ business skills would be valuable to a nonprofit, a marked increase from the 2009 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey of corporate contributions managers (78 percent). Further, companies are increasingly offering skilled volunteerism as an option for employees: 60 percent of companies polled said they offer skilled volunteerism where employees self-select the issue, and 64 percent offer skilled volunteerism where projects address the companies’ philanthropic focus. This is in contrast to the 2009 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey where just 50 percent of respondents reported offering skilled volunteer opportunities to employees.

Still work to be done

Nearly 70 percent of companies polled offer paid time off for volunteer activities but, while companies have high expectations that volunteerism will achieve results, many corporate managers are failing to consistently communicate their goals and expectations to nonprofit partners in advance of committing employee volunteer time. Less than half of respondents said they always discuss with the nonprofits they support how the volunteer project can help address short-term needs (44 percent), have a long-term impact on society (43 percent), or how it will help the nonprofit function more effectively (45 percent).
“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,” noted Evan Hochberg, national community involvement director at Deloitte Services LP. “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.”

Indeed, the Deloitte survey showed that measurement and accountability for volunteer initiatives are lacking. Just 37 percent of respondents always discuss how the company can help the nonprofit collect data on resulting social impact prior to embarking on a project, and just 38 percent work with nonprofits to customize metrics that specifically measure the impact of volunteer time. Additionally, less than half of respondents (47 percent) said they require nonprofits in receipt of volunteer time to report back on the resulting social impact(s).

Leaders in the field agree that deeper engagement is key to success in achieving social goals. “The findings in Deloitte’s Volunteer IMPACT Survey are exciting in terms of the potential for volunteerism,” said Michelle Nunn, chief executive officer, Points of Light & Hands On Network, the nation’s largest volunteer organization. “But we can’t lose sight of the fact that with high expectations must come a process to achieve them; our collective social goals will only be realized when the business and nonprofit communities communicate more consistently, and hold each other accountable for results. There is still more work to be done, but we are making great strides.”

For more information about skills-based volunteerism and best practices, corporations and nonprofits are encouraged to visit the following web sites:

About this survey

The Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Research Series is a key component of Deloitte’s commitment to building the business case for, and advancing the dialogue about, corporate skills-based volunteerism and pro bono. Through compelling research on issues of strategic community involvement, as well as its own world-class program, Deloitte advocates for skilled volunteerism to strengthen the nonprofit sector, and for the strategic use of community involvement to achieve business goals. The 2010 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey is the seventh in the series. For a complete archive of the Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT research series, visit