The business case for corporate volunteering is straightforward. It is good for those who volunteer, it is good for the local business community and it is good for the company itself.

 

A structured volunteering programme can bring real rewards by securing long-term returns to the business:

  • Investors and financial markets are beginning to see that corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities that integrate broader societal concerns into business strategy and performance are evidence of good management.
  • Business opinion polls show increased levels of understanding of the link between responsible business and good business.
  • In addition to building trust with the community,  it gives firms an edge in attracting good customers and employees,
  • Acting responsibly towards workers and others in society can help build value for firms and their shareholders.
  • Staff development is clearly evidenced  where mentoring programmes are in place

 

A volunteer enterprise mentoring programme can be a “win-win”, contributing too much wider organisational goals than simply a corporate social responsibility programme. This offers a business more than an opportunity to “put something back” as it is a unique personal development opportunity for employees too as mentors themselves grow and develop their skills and experience.

The table below shows some of the benefits that a volunteer enterprise mentoring programme could bring.

Reputational benefits
Value/impact of press coverage Successful community initiatives of all kinds are often picked up by trade, regional and national media. Companies benefit from positive media coverage which will both build and improve brand reputation and enhance stakeholder opinion.   Talented employees will be more likely to apply to a company which has a good reputation
Improved relationship with government/ regulators and stakeholders By being proactive in this area, a business demonstrates a willingness to work with government.  It can also be helpful in building a positive profile with local authorities.

Suppliers and other business  partners will want to work with companies which are responsible, transparent, and have a good reputation in and understanding of their local communities

Improved relationship with the local business community/supply chain Working with local business will expand your organisation’s knowledge of issues and challenges facing them, enhancing your own company’s knowledge and outlook.  Equally, supporting small and new businesses in your area creates a more dynamic local economy, more jobs and therefore a more attractive place to do business
Talent management and employment benefits Research shows that:

  • HR managers believe that contributing business skills/expertise in a voluntary capacity can be an effective way to develop leadership and business skills
  • Enterprise mentoring also helps with the development of general mentoring skills which can be used internally for talent development, diversity programmes etc
  • volunteering is increasingly being linked to core business strategy in terms of up skilling employees and boosting productivity levels
  • volunteers involved in mentoring reported that their experience had increased their understanding of and empathy with other people
  • employees  feel greater loyalty to socially engaged employers
Retention and employee engagement Employee volunteering can be highly beneficial in attracting, retaining, engaging and developing employees. It can challenge employees, encouraging innovation and creativity, improving morale, motivation and commitment to the company
Talent management  including cost savings on training, team building and recruitment Key skills developed through volunteering include leadership, creative thinking, maximising the performance of others and decision-making/problem solving. Mentoring can also enhance communication skills, adaptability, influencing and negotiating skills.   Nearly all of these feature in the mainstream competency frameworks used by companies to monitor and guide staff development. Often, these business-relevant skills can be attained at a lower cost to the company than more traditional approaches to training and development.
Business knowledge and awareness Volunteer enterprise mentors gain a wider appreciation of the issues and challenges facing small business (your customers and suppliers.)  This improves their own understanding and decision making
Commercial benefits  
Supply chain management A more efficient system and stronger supply chain means a better service and better products for your business
Impact on the bottom line The positive reputational benefits and improved employee engagement and motivation can lead to improved sales and business activity. More specifically, the creative and dynamic nature of volunteer business mentoring can spark ideas for new services and products and volunteers benefit from interaction with customers and suppliers.
External investment Companies showing leadership in the area of corporate social responsibility are often recommended to and invested in by those who screen companies for social responsibility. For example, the FTSE4 Good Index Series has been designed to measure the performance of companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards and to facilitate investment in those companies.   Community activity is often an important part of such ratings and can promote the company as a suitable vehicle for investment.
Benefits to the employee Research shows that employees who volunteer:

  • Are twice as likely to be satisfied with the progression of  their careers
  • Agree that the experience has helped them to perform better in their jobs
  • Report improvements across a range of skills, in particular, communication skills, adaptability and helping others improve as a result of their experience
Skills development and progression Supporting a local small business can build relationships with other employees in the same department or across the organisation. This, combined with developing the business relevant skills described above, can lead to more opportunities in terms of career development.
Personal impact Volunteer mentoring of a small business owner can also develop a range of softer skills including self confidence, judgement, and initiative, awareness of wider social and business issues and empathy with other people.
Personal benefit Giving something back to the community, helping others and making a difference feels good!
Benefits for the volunteer mentor  
Personal fulfilment from investing in others “Mentoring is a fantastic way to help businesses grow, and I think it’s often underestimated as a tool that has the power to significantly boost the UK’s economy. Mentoring allows me to keep in touch with UK business leaders, learn how they operate and work out how my help can benefit them.”
Communication, mentoring and coaching skills “Working with my mentor has given us a new perspective on the business and how we can tackle challenges and set ourselves goals.”
Enjoyment from seeing others succeed “Having worked closely with Sharon and offering a fresh pair of eyes, I was able to help them examine new options for managing the business’s performance and explore new options for growth. It’s immensely rewarding to be able to help others achieve their goals.”
Feeling ‘valued’ as a role model “I am extremely honoured to be named Enterprise Mentoring Champion of the Year and look forward t o taking this award back to my organisation and hopefully inspiring more of my colleagues to get involved with mentoring.”
Stimulating own learning of business enterprise “It is both satisfying and inspiring to see a small business turn an idea into reality. The agricultural community is resourceful, hand working and ingenious so I count myself as being fortunate to be connected with it. Mentoring is worthwhile in itself and through sharing my own knowledge and experience, I hope to contribute to what the UK agriculture sector needs to succeed.”
Opportunity to take time out and reflect “Working with my mentor has really opened my eyes to the available opportunities. Having not come from a business background, it is invaluable to have someone who is able to take an objective view of what we’re trying to achieve and to give us some guidance.”
Renewed focus on future career or opportunities “Mentoring can be a truly rewarding relationship which not only benefits the mentees, but allows mentors to build on their existing skills and experience in order to form fulfilling and effective relationships.”
Developing new insight into own self “Thank you for your time today – I appreciated your ability to be able to see deeper and push me to talk it through a little. I feel like I’ve had a bit of a break through because of it and I am already working on planning my next step.
Gaining an appreciation of an entrepreneur’s pressures “While financial investment is crucial to starting and growing a business, mentoring support can also make a huge difference to providing an entrepreneur with an objective perspective for sounding out new ideas or providing contact with other professionals in the area.”
Improving own development and performance “I am enjoying mentoring as I feel as though I am giving something back. Its good interaction and personal development and I like the reflections as its showing how I can share my life experiences. It’s making me question differently to get different responses which makes me feel like I’m being really useful as there are real takeaways for me and the mentee.”
Contributing to professional development “Meeting with my mentee has given me the opportunity to take away new ideas that has allowed me to think about implementing into future mentoring relationships and has contributed to my own development within the role.”
Improving relationship and management skills “One of the main reasons I wanted to become an enterprise mentor is because the scheme can have a significant impact on British entrepreneurship. It is an incredibly rewarding process that has helped me develop both personally, not least getting to know my mentee as a trusted and valued friend.”
Opportunity to ‘put something back’ and make a difference “The loyal customer base I have come across within the last 5 years has made me more determined to take up mentoring. Some businesses are reluctant to ask for help so having the opportunity to give something back is a real honour for me.”