Business benefits from volunteering

August 01, 1997


A new Corporation for Citizens’ Service should be set up with a contract from the government for a national volunteering programme, Community Service Volunteers has recommended. Registered as a charity, it should seek support from foundations and companies and invite proposals from partners in towns and rural areas to run local schemes. These recommendations come in a report, Developing a Blue-print for Citizens’ Service, published on July 30, which draws on a detailed evaluation of three pilot schemes by Price Waterhouse for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The evaluation concluded that the model can be replicated in large numbers, helping to meet the new government’s promise of a ‘millennium volunteers’ scheme for 18 to 25 year olds. Communities have an acute need for voluntary skills and national recognition and media publicity is needed to increase recruitment, but young people need flexibility in hours and commitment. The pilots are in Cardiff, Sunderland and Southwark, London, and funded by NatWest Group and the Gatsby Foundation. Contact CSV on 0171 278 6601 or Joseph Rowntree Foundation on 01904 615905


Senior executives invited to serve on not-for-profit boards should choose carefully, get involved where they can make a specific contribution and not become overloaded. This advice comes in a study by Harvard Business School which found eight in ten (82%) of Fortune 500 chief executives volunteer as board members, with one third (36%) sitting on six or more boards. The Other Leadership Area, by Professor James Austin, also surveyed 9,800 Harvard Business School graduates and found 65% between 25 and 29 years old are significantly engaged in the social sector, rising to 85% among those aged 50 to 54 years.

Most respondents volunteer primarily because of their sense of personal responsibility to the community, but professional benefits were also quoted, such as developing skills for leadership, mission and policy formulation.


Volunteer programmes involving families are effective at lifting employee morale and improving corporate image, a three year study by the New York-based Conference Board has found. Participation by family members breaks down barriers among employees, reinforces team work and builds commitment as well as providing ‘quality time’ for family interaction. Conducted with the Points of Light Foundation and published in July as Family Matters, activities at over 400 Target Stores were examined: nine in ten store managers said the image of their stores had improved and three quarters that employee morale benefited. The report includes practical advice on planning and managing a family programme. Contact Conference Board on 00 1 212 759 0900


A charity building partnerships between the media and the voluntary sector has launched database of professionals in the communications industry willing to volunteer their time and skills to relevant community projects. Media Resource is run by the Media Trust, with funding from the Department of National Heritage, Carlton Communications, Granada Group, Marks & Spencer and Apple Computer, and was formally launched by the arts minister, Mark Fisher MP, on June 9. The scheme also includes the Board Databank which lists opportunities on management committees and other trustee positions required. Contact Lolly Walters, Media Trust, on 0171 637 4747


Staff at Sainsbury’s raised more than £500,000 during July for the Special Olympics of people with a learning disability.. More than 400 stores were involved in a wide range of sponsored activities and other fundraising events. Contact Paul Anderson, Special Olympics, on 0171 416 7551


The DIY retailer, B&Q, part of Kingfisher, is funding a volunteer training scheme to help older people get practical tasks done around the house. Launched on June 26, B&Q HOTS (Hands on Training Scheme) is run by Age Concern and provides a free two day course on basic skills and safety. B&Q has a policy of employing over 50s and offers an Over 60s discount card. Contact Age Concern on 0181 679 8000


Home secretary, Jack Straw MP, formally launched the 1997 Make a Difference Day on July 9. The day, November 1, is sponsored by Yellow Pages and co-ordinated by Community Service Volunteers. CSV, which celebrated its 35th anniversary with a reception on July 8 sponsored by Esso, hopes to exceed last year’s achievement of 9,000 volunteers taking part. Contact CSV on 0171 278 6601

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 35 – August, 1997