No Offense, but Your CSR Program is Boring

It's time to do more with your Employee Volunteer Program.

Lately I have been feeling uninspired.

I’ve been looking for an employee volunteer program (EVP) that is totally out of the box – something that is new, inspired, innovative and truly focuses on the huge impact that corporations can make on communities. The reason I work at VolunteerMatch is because of this belief: as we work to solve some of the world’s greatest problems, it is only through cross-sector collaboration (likely led by corporations) that we are going to make strides. But as I look for these necessary creative attempts, I’m not finding them. Why is this?

Over the past 10 years, employee volunteer managers have been fighting tooth and nail to get their programs accepted, implemented and adopted at their companies. I would argue that we’ve now arrived. It’s now expected for a corporation to have an employee volunteer program, and there are stats to support why (and just the fact that there are so many studies on the subject show that it’s now mainstream):

So, we’re all drinking the Kool-Aid. Now what?

VolunteerMatch works with more than 150 companies, so we’ve seen what works and what challenges EVP managers face. What we’re not seeing lately is a push to aggressively innovate. We’ve been in defensive, reactive mode when it comes to our EVPs, and we’ve let creativity slide. But we are now at a crucial point in the history of EVPs – we need to push on to the next altitude.

Although I hate to say it, employee volunteering as an industry is stuck. EVPs all look more or less the same: each with a few core nonprofit partners, a focused cause area, a handful of skilled/pro bono volunteering projects, one big month or week of service, and champions across the company. I’m not saying this is bad (in fact, I’m always impressed at the impact that companies make), but I do think it’s time to shake things up.

What comes next? What does “EVP 2.0” look like? If we really want to solve the problems that plague our society – abysmal literacy rates, high unemployment and poverty, diminishing arts for kids, climate change on the rise, the list goes on… We have to do more. It’s time to try something new.

So this is our challenge to all of you: how can we innovate ourselves out of the status quo?

Join the conversation with us! Let us know your thoughts on Twitter (@VM_Solutions) and look for upcoming posts here on Volunteering is CSR from VolunteerMatch’s leadership as we challenge ourselves (and you) to think critically about why we all need to do more, and how we can creatively shape the future.

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