Effective company-led employee volunteering programmes (EVPs) are becoming defining factors of good corporate citizenship, employee loyalty and job desirability, according to research conducted by corporate responsibility consultancy Trialogue and employee volunteering platform forgood.

Survey results of employees’ views on their company volunteering programmes, published in the 2023 Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, make a strong case for companies to offer EVPs. Almost all the 600 surveyed volunteers (92%) agreed that EVPs are an important component of good corporate citizenship. 83% said that their company’s commitment to the community makes them proud to work at the company, while 91% perceive their volunteering as having a positive impact on the organisation and the beneficiaries they support.

Employees are increasingly considering their potential employers’ volunteering programmes when joining a company. Some 45% of surveyed volunteers noted this as a consideration, compared to 32% in 2021. Additionally, 67% of surveyed volunteers noted that volunteering had allowed them to develop key skills that could be applied to their work.

Employee volunteering is gaining ground

Trialogue’s latest survey of local companies and employees shows a slow but steady increase in volunteering participation. Seventy-eight percent of the surveyed companies offer EVPs, compared to 71% last year. Employee participation has increased to 45%, up from 23% during the pandemic, when participation was constrained by lockdown and social distancing rules.

While 96% of responding companies offered company-organised volunteering initiatives and these had the highest employee participation rate at 42%, these activities were the least liked by NPOs, who preferred initiatives involving funding such as give-as-you-earn programmes and fundraising drives.

Companies reported that 27% employees participated in volunteering-matched funding (where volunteering done in employee’s own time is matched financially with a donation by the company) and 17% took advantage of time off to volunteer during work hours. Sixty-four percent of companies offered employees time off to volunteer during work hours, with most offering one day per year.

The causes most supported by volunteers reflect the top areas supported by companies through their corporate social investment efforts. Sixty- three percent of employee volunteers supported organisations in the broad social and community development sector, which includes orphans and vulnerable children and general youth programmes, 34% supported education programmes, and 19% supported food security and agriculture causes.

The volunteering activities employees engaged in were similar to the 2021 survey. The most common form of volunteering involved time spent working with the end beneficiaries of NPOs (40%), followed by time spent providing other services (35%) and manual labour (33%).

Improving employee volunteering programmes

Understanding why employees volunteer could help companies leverage their EVPs to inspire and motivate staff.

Employees cited their top motivation for volunteering as the desire to give something back. Respondents also cited supporting causes they cared about (59%), learning more about the needs of the community (25%) and setting an example for their families and children (24%) as additional reasons for volunteering.

Of the surveyed employees in 2023 who did not volunteer, one third reported a lack of time as the reason, while 32% said they were unaware of company volunteering opportunities. This lack of awareness highlights the need for companies to improve their internal communication and awareness of EVPs, something which was confirmed in the employee comments.

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2023 can be downloaded for free at https://trialogue.co.za/businessinsocietyhandbook/trialogue-business-in-society-handbook-2023-free-online-version/ .

About Trialogue

Trialogue is a niche corporate responsibility consultancy with more than two decades of industry research and experience. The company provides consulting and thought leadership services to clients in sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI).


Edwin Reichel <edwin@flowsa.com>

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