Five Reasons to Boost Volunteering

Five Reasons to Boost Volunteering

Key insights on the direction of volunteering
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 8:00am


Amway tells many great volunteer stories on its blog. So why the importance on volunteering?

In the US, where volunteering actually saw a dip last year, thousands of people gathered in Atlanta recently to find ways to scale up cross-sector volunteering at the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service.

The star power was blinding. Neil Bush and Chelsea Clinton served as spokespeople and moderators to boost discussions around volunteering. Filmmaker Tyler Perry, Actress Mira Sorvino and Quarterback Drew Brees used their influence to inspire and introduce compelling causes. Civil rights leaders who marched and suffered with Martin Luther King Jr. shared their thoughts on the need for this generation to coalesce around a vision to change the world.

The conference was followed by intense two day meetings of corporate social responsibility leaders from the IAVE Global Corporate Volunteer Council. We shared learnings and feedback with each other, all on the road to leveraging each of our company’s people power to improve communities at the local and global level.

Boiling down all of the discussions, following are five key insights on the direction of volunteering.


The United Nations is focused on the next phase of post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations Volunteers makes a strong case that volunteerism as a key tool to support development work. UNV is working to mobilize the private sector and advocating the inclusion of volunteering in discussions of new Sustainable Development Goals.


The CEO-elect of UPS made a pledge on behalf of its 300,000 employees. They will attempt to generate 20 million volunteer hours by the year 2020. Amway has reached the mark of 1 million volunteer hours in a single year, as have a few other companies. Recent research by LBG Associates is working to identify the challenges and solutions to accommodate a wave of company volunteer programs going global for the first time.


A 2014 study from Deloitte revealed that millennials want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society. And new CEB research announced at the conference by the Points of Light Institute showed that employees who volunteer are 8% more engaged than their peers. Higher engagement means improved employee productivity and reduced costs of employee turnover. In fact, for the companies surveyed, by improving employee volunteer rates from 36% to 75%, they demonstrated a $14 million return for every 10,000 employees.


More than 500 companies have joined a new initiative in partnership with the White House called A Billion + Change. It aims to boost the amount of pro bono and skills-based volunteer service in the United Sates. Already, they have garnered 2 billion hours in pledges, and hope to reach 5 billion by 2015. This initiative is a response to a growing trend of focus in volunteerism to fill gaps in the nonprofit sector by lending the time and expertise of professionals. From nonprofit board service to free consulting, volunteers are seeking new ways to burnish their skills and use their expertise and leadership outside the office.


Corporations are not the sole leaders of the conversation around volunteering – neither are nonprofit organizations, neither is the public sector. It will take ALL sectors working together to improve the world and address critical needs. Groups like the UN Volunteers and the International Association for Volunteer Effort are serving as conveners. And new organizations like Catchafire and Good Deeds Day are connecting and mobilizing. New frameworks of thinking like the Shared Value Initiative are making us smarter about how we approach critical issues. And innovations in online volunteering, crowd funding and microvolunteering are looking to serve a new market of needs to grow volunteerism.

The world will continue to be faced with challenges, but also opportunities to create. As civil rights crusader Reverend C.T. Vivian said to a crowd of 5,000 people, “The world will never be good enough for the next generation … you have to make the world you want.”

Authored by Jesee Hertstein