New Year Resolution: How To Do More Good In 2021

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At the start of the New Year, many people are considering donating their time, skills, or cash. One way of doing this is through your company’s employee volunteering programme (EVP).

Corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy Trialogue says that three-quarters of the large companies surveyed for their 23rd annual Trialogue Business in Society Handbook had EVPs. Of these companies, 75% had a stated EVP policy in 2020, and 41% had a separate EVP budget. Companies commonly provided employees with one working day of paid volunteering time.

Feedback from the non-profit organisations (NPOs) surveyed by Trialogue was revealing. “Company-organised volunteering initiatives were least liked by 11% of NPOs, family volunteering by 13% of NPOs, and retiree volunteering initiatives were least liked by 19% of NPOs,” said Trialogue Director Cathy Duff.

“In line with our research in previous years, NPOs revealed that they most like the company employee initiatives that provide funding: give as you earn (most liked by 21% of NPOs), fundraising/collection drives (17% of NPOs) and employee-matched funding (13% of NPOs),” said Duff.

“Fortunately for both parties, for the first time in our research, one of the most liked types of company initiatives ‒ fundraising drives ‒ was also the support most received by NPOs. Over half of the NPO sample received assistance with fundraising/ collection drives.”

Volunteering experience

In a Trialogue Handbook case study article on volunteering during the pandemic, Mandisa Kalako-Williams, former president of the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS), said that during the pandemic SARCS volunteers were the first responders or go-to-people in their communities. Volunteers focused on community-based health education, screening for the virus, and distributing food.

“At the onset of Covid-19, our existing volunteers were trained in dealing with the new virus, apprised of the risks, and supported with the necessary protective equipment. Naturally, there was ‒ and still is ‒ much fear and apprehension. However, the numbers have not dwindled. Instead, more people have come forward, wanting to be trained and to help others.”

Kalako-Williams recommended that companies gain more insight into the mandates and principles of the organisations they support through volunteering.

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Mandisa Kalako-Williams

“More company employees should be exposed to real volunteering, allowing them to walk in the footsteps of community volunteers. Company donations should have a specific amount earmarked for volunteer subsistence allowances as our volunteers are usually drafted from the very needy communities we try to assist. Lastly, assistance should be practical.”

Kalako-Williams said the NPO sector is in dire need of the skills of accountants, auditors, HR managers, marketers, and public relations practitioners. “These skills reside in almost all companies and can add a tremendous amount of value to their chosen NPOs.”

Duff said Trialogue’s primary research showed that in addition to pro-bono support most of the surveyed companies provided NPOs with some form of capacity building support. Almost two-thirds offered workshops and/or training, often in the skills mentioned by Kalako-Williams. What emerged, however, was the insight that flexible funding was the intervention most desired by NPOs (35%).

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Cathy Duff Trialogue

“Given Covid-19 conditions, it’s not surprising that NPOs favour funding that is not restricted to a particular programme. Such funding helps them to plot a route during these uncertain times. They can choose to cover operational costs, build capacity, or to change course to better respond to the pandemic.”

The 2020 Trialogue Business in Society Handbook can be downloaded free at https://trialogue.co.za/publications/.