Knowledge sharing, systems and forming networks that engage relevant sectors and potential partners can be part of breaking down the cultural, structural and conceptual barriers that currently block (corporate) social innovation. Tania Ellis demonstrates how corporate volunteering can provide business strategic benefits, routes into new markets, and cost-effective innovation for companies and NGOs.
by Tania Ellis
Tania Ellis is a Danish–British prize-winning writer, speaker and business innovator, who specialises in social business trends. She advises a wide range of national and international private, public and civil organisations including large corporate brands, NGOs, educational institutions, ministries, think tanks and social entrepreneurs. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed book The New Pioneers – Sustainable Business Success through Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, which has recently been listed on Cambridge’s Top 40 list of Sustainability Books.
The following job advertisement from Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer goods, is just one of many examples of how companies are branding themselves to meet intrinsic employee needs for meaning and personal fulfilment.
“A career at P&G offers a chance to touch someone’s life. Our people get involved – with their workplace, their community, their neighbours and each other. If you want a company whose actions reflect their ethics and whose people live their values, then you should consider a career at P&G.”
The sense of belonging and being connected to others as well as the value of contribution to the community are today essential cornerstones of modern work and life expectations. For the new generation of employees, giving is the new taking and sharing is the new giving – an invisible contract based on enlightened self-interest.
Voluntary work as a career booster Everywhere there are signs of a growing collective interest in doing good. One of the tell-tale signs is the increasing number of citizens who are actively engaging in good causes and charitable organisations.
Some donate money through websites such as DonorsChoose, GlobalGiving, Razoo and SmallCanBeBig, which enable direct, personal and specific donations. Some use Facebook applications such as Causes.com, which since 2007 has grown a community of over 150 million people, who have raised donations of more than $35 million in support of over 500 000 causes, from breast cancer research to the support of local parks.
But voluntary work is not only for the private citizen. In many parts of the world, it is becoming an integrated part of business life. During the economic crisis, for example, voluntary work has in the UK become a way for the unemployed to showcase their talents, develop new skills, make new contacts, or simply make a positive difference until they are on a payroll again.
Voluntary work is becoming a career booster and is a factor that recruiters and human resource directors are increasingly looking at when evaluating potential new employees. In fact, corporate volunteering programmes that involve employees in community work (employee volunteering) are gaining ground in companies around the world. »