Corporate volunteer initiatives tend to align themselves more and more with the business in line with the path already taken by Private Social Investment. This choice gains strength as companies rethink their social role in adherence to the economic challenges imposed: their survival and success dispense with reinvention in the way they do things.
4 Ways to Align Volunteering to Business:
For volunteering, the most common business synergies are related to the areas of People Management and Sustainability. The tip is that in that moment the "such" alignment is considered in its multiple perspectives:
- Strategic alignment: when the program fits and is created to give answers to the aspirations, way of being, mission, vision and values of the company. For example, for banks, the activity of financial education makes great strategic sense, since it invests so in a society and in clients with better use of their products and greater power to save. Similarly technology companies can invest in volunteering in the scope of digital inclusion, thus providing more advanced users and less costs of customer service and support.
- Alignment "Thematic" or "Sector": when the alignment is given to themes related to the products and services that the company delivers, thus increasing the perception of the value offer. For example: a toy company that develops actions with children and values the act of playing, or another one of the health area that develops actions in hospitals. In my view, this is the most fertile field of alignment.
- Presence: when considering acting in those locations where the company has a physical, commercial and strategic presence. This happens a lot in the industries that have plants near or within communities, but can also happen in retail, exploring its capillarity power.
- Operational: allying resources and processes that already exist in the company: systems, assets, policies, processes of recognition and training, etc.
Leveling the concepts within decision-making and partner areas can also be very useful in maintaining the program as an asset of the business.
Some understandings are the duties of the volunteer manager to standardize, after all, the subject of social action is an issue that each individual brings from their context, their experiences, and in summary "everyone has much opinion", and, right or wrong, the glossary of the subject in your company is in your hands, and the moments of inter, intra and out of the company relations are a space for dialogue and positioning of the conceptions adopted.
A) What is the concept of "business"? Does it end only in the end activity, "core business"? What levels of relationship with society does the current context require of companies? What is the business understanding of your peers from other areas (finance, marketing, commercial, HR)? Note that the business concept in general is skewed by the end-of-the-line activity rather than the business as a whole. It is worth speaking the managerial language by addressing, for example, content brought by Porter and the creation of shared value.
B) What is the difference between personal and corporate volunteering? Answering this helps to calm internal and external expectations and establish the famous "focus." A definition of which volunteer strategy will be adopted throughout the company - in detriment of other causes and impulses that may be as important as those objectives defined by your company, but which do not correspond to the strategy outlined. From my experience, as the focus of voluntary action expands in favor of the infinite talents and desires of the employees and managers, the final results become more diluted, less concentrated, with tendencies towards dispersion.
C) How can we act in a complementary way to public policies? There is much help when programs dialogue with existing initiatives and do not overlap them. And how does this performance not overlap initiatives from other companies?
D) To what extent is "alignment with the business" different from "being in the service of the business"?
Questions such as these, if worked by volunteer managers along with their peers and superiors, can favor that the multiple gains of the initiative flourish to:
- employees and teams, through personal gain, climate, pride, engagement, among others.
- for the company, as good relationship with society and reputation, and most importantly:
- for the communities and beneficiaries who receive a dedicated, quality work and with real possibilities for change.
Bruno Barcelos - April 24, 2018