Volunteering: More than Compensation for Fewer Cash Gifts

Primary tabs

Volunteering: More than Compensation for Fewer Cash Gifts

tweet me:
Recent study explores why #CSR programs have increasingly embraced volunteer work @VM_Solutions 3bl.me/bnssrx

Multimedia from this Release

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 2:00pm

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently issued a special report summarizing last year’s trends in corporate charitable giving. In 2011, total cash donations showed little growth. Instead, companies began to ramp up their product giving and volunteering programs, creating stronger support for communities than a dollar donation might allow on its own.

As a basis for the study, financial information was gathered from 166 companies ranked in Fortune magazine’s list of top revenue-earners in the US. Analysis revealed that cash donations grew only 4 percent in 2011; a disappointing stat in comparison to the 13 percent rise in corporate gifting that took place between 2009 and 2010. Projections for 2012 figures are equally grim.

The reason? Chronicle cites economic uncertainty as the primary culprit. According to Mark Shamley, president of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, “Companies are taking a conservative approach. There are a lot of… scary things out there like the European debt crisis…” Allocating a significant portion of profits for cash gifts is therefore a financially inefficient option for many companies.

The Giving Must Go On!

Despite economic insecurities, corporate charity is still showing vital signs of life. Businesses have begun to integrate a variety of initiatives into their social responsibility strategies in efforts to compensate for fewer cash donations.

One example is investment in product gifting, which increased at a stunning rate last year. Though Wal-Mart topped the charts with a $342.4 million total cash donation in 2011, Pfizer easily contributed the most among the corporations studied when product giving was included, donating a whopping $3.1 billion to their core causes.

Companies also have pursued closer collaboration with nonprofit organizations to augment community involvement. “What we’re looking for is the opportunity to partner with nonprofits that are willing to develop something new with us,” says Ezra Garrett, head of PG&E Corporation’s giving foundation. This way, businesses are not only offering financial support to the causes they favor, but also offering time. The volunteer work that goes alongside nonprofit partnerships is highly beneficial for the nonprofit, not to mention the wellbeing of the donating company itself.

How Can Your Company Give Back?

The report gave a few examples of how companies have encouraged volunteerism:

  • General Mills workers around the world spend a week volunteering on office teams.
  • UnitedHealth Group launched a microvolunteering site to let its employees perform quick tasks for charities, like sprucing up their Web sites or crafting press releases.
  • Kraft planted a garden at its corporate headquarters; during harvest season, employees pick fruits and vegetables destined for local soup kitchens.

In the business world it goes without saying that time is money. So what is time spent volunteering? Although community engagement is not always measured in monetary figures, there is certain value in giving altruistically to a good cause. Arguably, greater value than dollars could provide alone.

The Chronicle’s full report can be found here.

To learn more about how community engagement can benefit your company, click here.

Elyse Bernstein is a Marketing & Insights Intern at VolunteerMatch. Share your thoughts with her!


Casey Brennan
+1 (415) 321-3634