There’s a common myth I often hear, particularly through my work in volunteer engagement. The myth is this: In order for volunteering to be authentic, in order for it to be good, it has to be altruistic.
Volunteering has many benefits for the volunteer — from growing their social circle to growing their resume, there’s a myriad of so-called “selfish” reasons to give back. But no matter what the reason, the end result is the same: Volunteering builds better communities.
The same can be said for corporate volunteer programs. Skeptic consumers say corporate social responsibility is about improving brand reputation. Is that true? Many times, yes. Is that a bad thing? As long as the company can demonstrate real community impact, no.
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Perhaps the most compelling “selfish” reason for corporate volunteer programs is increased employee engagement. In June 2016, Cone Communications shared their Employee Engagement Study. Their research directly connects corporate volunteer programs to increased employee engagement, and in turn, increased employee loyalty and retention.
Here are some statistics pulled from the study:
“Employees say opportunities to support causes or issues they care about (64%) are as important as wellness programs (69%) or tuition reimbursement (66%).”
“58% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.”
“74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.”
What do you think is the top reason for employees to participate in a corporate volunteer program? It’s not “making a meaningful difference” — although that’s a close second. The top reason? “Professional growth.”
So, let’s stop calling non-altruistic giving “selfish” and call it what it really is: Pretty darn good for everyone involved, companies included.