Having an employee volunteering program integrated within your company continues to be a growing expectation among Canadian companies. In 2013, 89% of LBG Canada companies report having an established volunteering program. Yet, community investment professionals can face low employee volunteering participation and even limited enthusiasm.
Based on LBG Canada audited company data and annual company survey responses, here are some potential challenges that those companies with an established volunteering program may see as an impediment to its success:
Creating a successful employee volunteering program is a process that requires recognizing a company’s individual context and circumstance to ensure the program fits its employee’s unique needs.
Surveys taken by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) Canada, indicate the following regarding employee volunteer programs: (1) 11 out of 36 companies have “no clear internal understanding of the value of employee volunteering”, (2) 13 out of 36 companies “lack of staffing resources to manage the program effectively”, and (3) 12 out of 36 companies have a strategy that is “unclear”.
A growing importance has been placed on organizations, by the public, to report above and beyond the financial status of the organization. Stakeholders expect enhanced reporting practices as they want to be actively communicated with, regarding the community investment activities.
Trends indicate that companies with community investment programs are interested in partnering with community based organizations and institutions. By working with community partners, companies are able to directly benefit communities, while also strengthening relationships with their customers and employees.
One key challenge currently being faced many companies working in community investment is communicating the value of community investment—both internally and externally. A barrier to effective communications is typically due to lack of understanding. In some cases, a lack of understanding occurs when community investment, marketing, and sponsorship overlap. While an integrated model has the potential for successful collaboration around community investment priorities, it is important that each area of activity be clearly distinguished from the other.
Companies are becoming increasingly interested in community investment as a means to support value creation in communities they touch. Community investment can help establish mutually beneficial relationships between a company and its stakeholders, contribute toward long-term improvements in the quality of life for communities, and help create an environment conducive to private investment.
The use of technology in community investment isn't new. Online application and internal tracking systems have supported community investment professionals in selecting partnerships, tracking community and business metrics, and providing portfolio breakdowns.
Software has also been developed to better engage employees in employee volunteering and giving programs. Innovation in technology has translated into this sector with:
The 2014 LBG Canada audit supported several companies in a unique way this year. Enhanced company reporting of expenditure in combination with improved LBG Canada data collection tool (DCT) usability enabled a more finite analysis of ineligible investments.