KATHMANDU: The concept of Corp-orate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Citizenship (CC) are becoming quite recognised among the private sector, with organisations mainstreaming these concepts to the core of their strategy and working modalities, setting new corporate paradigms.
Corporate Volunteerism (CV) is one of the new trends — it is a practice that offers employees the opport-unity to volunteer with the backing of employers. There are many forms to practice volunteerism through a company and despite the economic downturn, there is an increasing number of corp-orations engaged in promoting volunteering opportunities. Globally, the trend is particularly strong among bigger organisations that might have the capacities, expertise and resources to design and implement volunteering schemes.
CV should not be seen as something apart from the core business but rather be considered a key strategy to motivate and retain staff, increase their skills and improve working attitudes. A groundbreaking study published in May 2010 by Corporate Citizenship reviewed and analysed cases of hundreds of corporate volunteers supported by their respective organisations and proved that CV contributes to increase staff’s effectiveness, adaptability and negotiation skills.
There are many forms of CV. It can take the shape of team challenges where the employees involve in practical tasks like painting a hall, organising a cleaning camp-aign, or creating a school garden. Normally these kinds of activities are carried out during weekends with participation from family members. These activities are excellent for team building and motivational purposes.
Other forms of CV can be carried out with the establishment of partnerships between the private sector and NGOs. This form of volunteering often opens a door to new business partnerships and directly relates to the business’s bottom line. In Nepal, private hospitals send their doctors and other staff to train staff of public health posts and private schools enable their teachers to train staff of rural public schools. In both cases, the skills of employees are used most effectively to increase the impact for the community.
For some businesses it will also be of strategic benefit to enable staff members to volunteer with youth clubs in the community. Employees can help youth groups improve management. Discussions and sharing experiences can also help youths take professional decisions and learn about career options. These exchanges can build trust, networks and good relations between a business, young people and the entire community.
Although the CV concept is very new to Nepal, proper awareness and capacity building initiatives can leverage the interest of the private sector in forging new forms of partnership with national NGOs or communities. Nepali companies and their employees will definitely benefit from these new initiatives while playing an enhanced role in the society. Interestingly, tools and instruments are in place to help and support all kinds of companies in promoting corporate volunteerism and overseas a number of ‘brokers’ and not-for-profit entities are also active in helping to design the right volunteering program-me tailored to different corporate needs.
(The author is senior programme development advisor at CCS Italy and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)