This is a question we get asked a lot by businesses. And it’s fair enough. You want to do good, which is a great thing, and you’re already giving away your time – why should you have to give your money away too?
We run volunteering activities with some of the world’s greatest brands. Here are 3 things we’ve learned.
1. Someone has to organise the activity. And while you’re volunteering, they’re not.
When you want to do good – say, empowering children with special needs or helping clear the ocean of plastic trash – you’re volunteering your time, but the people organising it for you aren’t. Someone needs to arrange the activity, get the required permits, explain what you need to do and how to do it. These people aren’t volunteering, they’re working, so it’s only fair they’re paid for their time.
2. Charities can’t run effective, meaningful volunteering activities without money.
Charities who run volunteering activities have limited resources. They rely on donations to keep doing their amazing work. Paying to volunteer with charities means they can carry on helping people, and continue to run volunteering activities in the future. And sure, you could do your own volunteering activity – just go to the beach with a bag and pick up the trash – but real, positive impacts only happen when the work is continuous. If it’s just a one-off, you’ll get some great selfies for LinkedIn, but you won’t make a meaningful impact or be able to tell a credible story.
We only properly protect the ocean when we clear it every day. We only support vulnerable communities effectively when we help them regularly. You can’t volunteer every day – you have other jobs. But you can make a difference if your volunteering activity is part of structured, ongoing work run by charities and social organisations. And they need financial resources to keep up your good work all year round.
3. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck – volunteering has huge business benefits.
A team volunteering activity is much more than just ‘a philanthropic act’. It has major benefits for your business too – motivating your people, improving their communication skills, making them more creative, building empathy and boosting team spirit. Companies happily pay for a team lunch, or to take people to ‘Go Karting’ or ‘Escape Rooms’. So why wouldn’t you pay for a CSR activity that has the same positive impact while also helping the planet?
On top of that, it will help you recruit, too. It’s a well-known fact that people want to work for companies that take CSR seriously and consumers prefer buying from responsible brands. Being committed to doing good and increased brand reputation are positively correlated. Basically, the benefits of doing CSR and having a motivated, engaged workforce massively outweigh the cost of doing the activities.
Marc Ruiviejo Cirera
Founder of Companies for Good