Corporate Volunteerism: Challenging Times Drive New Investments

by Mark Feldman

hands-in-circleYou won’t be surprised to hear that another set of indicators from the Conference Board point downward for 2009.  Corporate philanthropy will dive this year – thirty-five percent of companies surveyed by the Conference Board said they would make fewer grants this year and another twenty-two percent are considering reductions.

However, there is also good news for causenation.  In this time of need, companies and individuals are embracing volunteerism.  Forty-five percent of companies in the Conference Board survey say that they will be increasing resources dedicated toward corporate volunteerism.  USA Today reported this week that applications are soaring at government-funded service programs like Peace Corps, Teach for America and Americorps.  Buoyed by the President’s call to action and uncertainty in job market, community service is coming of age again.

Alan Solomont, chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the main government-funded service programs says, “there’s a convergence of a great need for citizen service and a great appetite by Americans for service. It will do the kinds of things for this generation and this country that military service did for the Greatest Generation.”

Corporate America has a huge opportunity to be a catalyst for this movement and to facilitate the engagement of its millions of employee-citizens – not just as “service for service sake,” but also to boost much needed morale and provide rich leadership and personal development experiences.

  • First, we must take our employee volunteer initiatives to new levels – apply our skills as well as our muscle; ensure and measure social impact; and connect our activities with business imperatives.
  • Second, we must be advocates for the bi-partisan Serve America Act, making service opportunities available for hundreds of thousands of Americans to take action on our most pressing community needs.  Visit Service Nation for more information.
  • Also, keep an eye on the Incentive to Serve Tax Act, which would provide companies with a tax credit equal to twenty-five of compensation paid to an employee who performs at least 160 hours of a specified charitable service during work hours.

We are passionate about corporate engagement, and you’ll see us blog a lot about these issues.

Share: