Workplace Giving & Volunteering: The Stats Your Boss is Asking For

By now you’ve likely seen and read CECP’s incredible annual Giving in Numbers report. Released this week, the report is the preeminent recurring research study of our practice, polling more than 250 leading companies on their corporate citizenship activities. In 54 colourful and well designed pages, the report provides a snapshot of the trends and statistics shaping corporate giving and volunteering.

Now that you’ve read it, you’re probably wondering: How can I use this report to show my boss where we stand? And: How can I use it to back up my request for a bigger budget next year?

Look no further! We’ve done the work for you. Here’s a list of the most relevant stats from the CECP report, why they matter, and what you can do about them.

night office

By Corey Diamond

Among companies giving at least 10% or more since 2010, median revenues increased by 11%, while revenues fell 3% for all other companies.

We now have a definitive link between giving and business growth. We are entering the era of strategic philanthropy – the thought that you can strengthen your business by supporting causes that are relevant to your core business and its employees. Knowing this, you can now develop a more intentional giving and volunteering strategy. The first step is to internally find the right leaders and let them become your evangelists.

In 2013, 86% of companies matched employee contributions to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

Odds are, you have at least one element of a matching gift program. Most likely it’s based on cash contributions with a minimum and a ceiling. You may have a Dollars for Doers program as well. While this is clearly part of best practice, having a program on its own isn’t enough. Knowing that the median participation rates for matching gift programs are 9%, and participation in Dollars for Doers programs is a paltry 3%, you need to ask yourself how you’re going to boost those numbers. Every dollar that gets donated by your company should touch as many hands as possible. Remember: the goal is engagement. If you engage your employees, you’ll drive more participation, leading to maximum impact in the community.

Dollars for Doers participation rates are still too low – only 3% of employees take advantage of your incentive.

We love Dollars for Doers programs. They provide a great recognition tool, providing your employees an incentive to volunteer in the community. Nonprofits win twice accessing time and money, but we continue to be frustrated with the shockingly low participation rates. It remains the Incentive Nobody Wants, because all too often these programs include prohibitive minimums that fail to recognize that most people just don’t volunteer. If you have set your threshold for an incentive at 40 hours of volunteer time, you’ll be missing more than 75% of your workforce, and you’ll only be giving money to people who are already volunteering. Keeping your volunteer match programs a central part of your program portfolio is a good idea, but combine it with a strategy that includes everybody and you can make it a great idea!

Cash contributions shifted from foundations to corporate giving, highlighting a broader industry trend of aligning giving to business practices.

While 79% of companies operate a corporate foundation, growth in cash contributions from 2010 to 2013 came predominantly from Corporate Community Affairs (CCA) budgets. The average CCA cash contribution increased by 28% from 2010 to 2013, whereas foundation cash gifts increased by only 2%. This is further evidence of philanthropy aligning with core business. While this is a good trend, we’re still dismayed that …

Only 22% of companies reported that their company measured the business value of employee volunteerism and partnered with HR to include questions about job satisfaction in employee surveys.

Recent studies have concluded that corporate volunteering programs make better employees. Some companies are aligning volunteering opportunities directly with skills development. If you haven’t already, buy your HR professional a coffee and engage them in measuring the true impact of your programs.

Median giving as a percentage of revenue steadily increased from 2010 to 2013 (now sitting at 0.141%).

Every industry and every business is different. However, benchmarking against a national average provides a bellwether as to the level of your company’s commitment. And it’s not only a commitment to solving complex social and environmental issues; it’s a commitment to your employees and customers. If you can, undertake a benchmarking study to see where you fit amongst your competitors. If you need some tips on getting started, drop us a line via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Aggregate giving has risen 15%, largely because of deeper investments in volunteerism and product giveaways.

Aggregate giving rose 15% among companies reporting from 2010-2013 to $17.55 billion; 90% of that increase ($2.2 billion) comes from non-cash giving. Companies continue to realize the benefits of unleashing the power of their people and their products to help nonprofit partners. Some companies are going even further, connecting their cash and non-cash giving. Check out’s 1/1/1 program to see how they are leveraging all they can to drive community impact.

In 2013, 50% of CECP respondents claimed to have a pro bono volunteering program, up from 34% just a few years ago.

The contribution of business services and skills to address complex social issues, pro bono services are typically donated by an employer lending their employees’ skills to nonprofits. It can come in different forms, sending people to a project in a developing country, lending skills to a local community organization, or providing flex time for employees to work on issues close to their heart.

Either way, we’re thrilled about this powerful trend in skills based volunteering. But starting a pro bono program isn’t easy; you’ll need to understand the investment required, the types of skills you have to donate, your geographic or cause focus, and the best methods with which to measure.

Remember that pro bono isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s perfect for Stage 2 and 3 volunteers, but that likely comprises only 25% of the volunteers in your company. Be careful not to invest too heavily in a pro bono strategy without offering meaningful experiences for people to fall in love with volunteering first.

Providing time off for volunteering is the most effective tactic to increasing employee satisfaction.

The breakdown of responses from 135 giving professionals asked about the most effective socially motivated tactic for increasing employee satisfaction is as follows:

  • Volunteer time off: 47%
  • Year-round matching gifts: 22%
  • Communicating internally about signature programs or large grants: 21%
  • Matching gift events (e.g., United Way Campaigns): 9%

As we’ve written, there are four conditions for a successful corporate volunteering and giving program. Structure is one of those conditions. Have you developed the right policies and tools to make it as easy as possible for your employees to volunteer? Is it time to revisit your existing program to avoid volunteer fatigue? Never let your program get stale; your employees are changing, their habits evolve with advances in technology, and it may be time to develop the right structure to address this.

There are many more nuggets to be found in the CECP report. We trust this can help you build your business case to expand your program next year. We’re always happy to help, so give us a call, email us, or reach out on Twitter or Facebook if you’d like to discuss anything!

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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What is Skills-Based Volunteering?

Like most industries, the practice of corporate citizenship has a set of rules and unwritten codes. For example, there’s a general agreement that the path to deep community impact is through practicing strategic philanthropy. And you inherently know that you need to engage your co-workers with issues that are close to their hearts. You also know you don’t have the budget to make that happen, and if you could just get off those incessant conference calls ….

There are also some things that you’re expected to just know, but deep down you’re not sure if you have it right. So you do the best you can; you answer questions, hope you didn’t lead anyone astray, and get back to your conference calls.

installing siding on a house

By Corey Diamond

Skills-based volunteering is one of those loosely defined areas of our practice that can sometimes confuse people. I have spoken to several practitioners about their definition of skills-based volunteering and the answers are all over the map. It made me think that if we’re going to advance this practice, we’d better agree on some basics.

So let’s answer the question: What is skills-based volunteering?


any time someone uses their abilities, talents, networks and resources to get a volunteering commitment completed.

This may or may not include pro bono volunteering, which takes a skill that is used every day in your job and applies it to work to address a complex social or environmental cause.

Points of Light suggests that skills-based volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes, including:

• Individual volunteers, corporate paid/unpaid volunteers, loaned executives, interns
• Projects completed in a day; short, medium or longterm projects
• Activities performed during working hours or on individual time
• Planned in advance or spontaneous projects such as disaster response
• Application of all types of skills and talents from professional experience to hobbies
• Content from nonprofit infrastructure efficiency effort to direct “in the field” projects
• Local impact to national and international

Why It’s Important

Most companies see the value in harnessing the power of their employees to support community issues. The days of trotting out the CEO to hand out an oversized cheque are being replaced by activities that are perceived as less newsworthy, such as accountants helping nonprofits develop spreadsheets and engineers teaching kids STEM education. Despite this, the Taproot Foundation reports that just 3% of nonprofits have access to the services they require.

Clearly, connecting your employees’ passions to the causes they care about can be fulfilled by tapping into their skills, not just their wallets. And the impact of the volunteer engagement can drive stronger community impact.

The role of the employer is key here. Remember that 75% of Americans don’t volunteer at all. Encouraging skills-based volunteering among your employee base regardless of whether it’s during work time can help bring that alarming statistic down. You now have another way to get people excited about getting involved in the community.

But skills-based volunteering isn’t for everyone. It is great for 2nd and 3rd stage volunteers but it is not as compelling for 1st stage volunteers. In fact, it can be overwhelming for first time volunteers and may prevent them from trying the program at all. It’s best to provide great experiences for first timers, and skills-based opportunities for those who are ready to try something that requires a little more commitment.


Some examples of companies supporting skills-based volunteering:

IBM Corporate Service Corps
This program increases IBM’s understanding and appreciation of growth markets while creating global leaders who are culturally aware and possess advanced teaching skills. The Corporate Service Corps offers a triple benefit: leadership development for IBMers, leadership training and development for communities, and greater knowledge and enhanced reputation in growth markets for IBM.

PepsiCorps is a skill-based volunteer program in which associates from around the world form teams that are deployed to help local communities address societal challenges. In 2012, associates from Lebanon, Pakistan, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, and the US participated in PepsiCorps, with one team working with a local community in India to improve and promote rainwater harvesting, while the other team worked with a Native American community in New Mexico to plan and build a community garden to encourage healthy eating habits.

In addition to its formal $50 million pro bono program, which enables Deloitte to serve the nonprofit sector just as it serves its clients, Deloitte has also pioneered a new model of executive management training for local nonprofit executives called the Deloitte Center for Leadership & Community (DCLC). Launched in 2007, it has been recreated in a number of Deloitte offices around the country including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. To date, more than 300 executives have participated.


Here are three trends driving more skills-based volunteering globally:

1. Educating and Engaging
I recently spoke to a senior person at a high tech company who told me the perception is that skills-based volunteering is for “lawyers who do pro bono work”. She’s right. Most people don’t know that they even possess skills that can contribute to helping solve social and environmental issues. The best way to educate your co-workers about skills-based volunteering opportunities is to use your volunteer champions to spread the word. Encourage them to host a not-your-Grandma’s-same-old-volunteering lunch and learn; or better yet, bring some NGO partners in and explain the impact skills-based volunteering can have. But remember: carefully plan these sessions in concert with engaging people in a meaningful volunteer experience. It is difficult for us to absorb new knowledge if we haven’t yet experienced it.

2. The Role of HR
We’re big boosters of the strategic inclusion of HR professionals in volunteering. Incorporating skills-based volunteering in your basket of employee engagement offerings has a spinoff effect that fits nicely with HR’s priorities. If you haven’t already, buy your HR director a coffee and see how you can knit your programs together.

3. Integration
The best corporate citizenship programs seamlessly integrate all elements to encourage as many people as possible to participate. does this extremely well by connecting their product donations to opportunities for NGOs to access employees as mentors. More than 23,000 nonprofits have received free products and have accessed more than 8,000 hours of employee time to help use the tool.

Now that you’re up to speed on the power of skills-based volunteering, we’d love to hear how you’re going to use it to drive social change in your part of the world. If you’re using it already, tell us about that too. Leave us a comment or drop us a line via and keep the conversation going. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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IVCO Lima, 2014: We’ll Be There … Will You?

We attend a lot of conferences all over the world to learn from our peers, but often, like at this year’s IVCO, we go as speakers to share our experiences in the field. We hope to see you there!

Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation.

By Christine Johnston


IVCO, the annual conference on international volunteering, is being hosted in Lima, Peru, by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum), World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and the Center for International Study and Cooperation (CECI), October 19-22.

I will have the honour of attending and speaking at the conference this year along with high-ranking multi-sector delegates from all over the world involved in the field of international volunteering and development.

The theme for this year’s conference is Volunteering in a Convergent World: Fostering Cross-Sector Collaborations Towards Sustainable Development Solutions. This identifies with Realized Worth’s client work as well as its involvement in Impact 2030, the first private sector led initiative aiming to bring stakeholders from all sectors together to align corporate volunteer efforts with the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

3 Sessions Not to Miss

1) Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group Report on Forum Advocacy Work: Mainstreaming International Volunteering in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

On the morning of Monday, October 20th, Gill Greer, CEO of VSA and ExCom Member of Impact 2030, will be joined by Barbara Hogan, Director of International Volunteering at Cuso International, and Adjmal Dulloo (Post-2015 Agenda Working Group Volunteer, International Forum for Volunteering in Development) in speaking about current discussions surrounding the Post-2015 Development Agenda within UN, member states and civil society networks. Most markedly, the panelists will be exploring the possibility of a draft IVCO 2014 Lima declaration shaping the role of international volunteering contributions to the Post-2015 SDGs.

2) Innovative International Volunteering Programs to Engage the Business Sector in Sustainable Development

This is one of many exciting breakout sessions that the conference is offering this year. On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 22nd, this session will discuss the innovation potential FK Norway and Uniterra see that private sector partnerships offer for sustainable development initiatives. Among the 5 panelists will be the wonderful conference organizers Mary Beshai, Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships, WUSC, and Sylvain Matte, Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships, CECI. The discussion will be moderated by Gill Greer, who again brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion herself.

3) Creating Shared Value: Myth or Reality?

Finally, I will be speaking on the morning panel on Wednesday, October 22nd, discussing the benefits and challenges of Shared Value as an innovative approach to international development. I will be joined by moderator Wendy Harris, CEO of CESO and fellow panelists Lelemba Phiri, Zambia Regional Director, Zoona, and Luis Eduardo Salcedo (COOFINEP, RIPRESS, y Asemblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la paz) to discuss whether Shared Value is the best solution, or if there are better methods of value creation between society’s sectors and community.

What else?

There are many more incredibly interesting and dynamic sessions being offered at this year’s IVCO. Find the full conference schedule here.

Join us!

If you are now convinced that this is the can’t-miss event that it is, register here now.

If you can’t be with us in Lima, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter next week as I live-Tweet the conference. Also, stay tuned afterwards for my followup blog highlighting the lessons learned and dynamic discussions shared at IVCO.

Thoughts? Comment or send your questions below, email us via, or connect with us on Twitter and/or Facebook. We would love to hear from you!

Christine Johnston
Consultant, Project Manager, Realized Worth


Why CSR Strategies Fail: The Top 3 Myths

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”… right?

I used to believe that the right plan would always yield the right result. Just follow the steps, stay the course, and celebrate the win. I then learned that people are unwieldy; if they don’t have a say in the plan, they won’t see how it pertains to them, and they don’t follow through. Easy solution: start with an environmental scan, adjust the plan to the people, and then you’re back on track – stay the course, celebrate the win.

But even after all that, my plans seemed to fail. And still, the problem seemed to be the people. I gave them a great plan, so why couldn’t they just fall in line?

Failure of a businessman due to crisis

By Angela Parker

3 (Supposed) Reasons CSR Strategies Fail

1. Senior Leadership

In a 2010 McKinsey survey of approximately 1800 respondents, more than 50% of the executives considered sustainable CSR to be “very” or “extremely” important. However, only 25% agree that it is a top priority for their CEOs and only 30% say their companies invest in sustainability or embed it in their business practices. - McKinsey Quarterly, March 2010

It’s true, if senior leadership is not supportive, strategic plans are likely to fail. I spoke recently to a large electronics company whose CEO is such an advocate of their CSR program that he sends personal, all-company emails asking employees to participate (he even shows up to events in a t-shirt, not a suit and tie!). Participation must be off the charts, right? Sadly, no. Employees feel strongly that the program “belongs to the company” and has nothing to do with them. In fact, one manager even hit “reply all” to the CEO’s email and asked to be removed from the list.

So is senior leadership really the problem?

2. Communications

If not senior leadership, then perhaps poor communications is the culprit. According to a recent study by the Project Management Institute, ineffective communications is the primary contributor to project failure one third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. 

For better or worse, CSR, in this case referred to as community involvement programs, tend to be event-based. Events require an extra measure of communications support, i.e., posters, email campaigns, website banners, and so on. Recently, I was excited to interview a selection of employees from an international corporation that had just completed a stellar communications campaign for their newly launched community involvement program. In the elevator on the way to interview number one, I asked the woman riding with me, “What do you think of [the company's] new volunteering and giving program?” She looked at me blankly for a moment before exclaiming, “Wow, we do volunteering? That’s great!”

Do even excellent communications plans fail to make the connection?

3. Resources

Even when senior leadership and communications don’t present problems, lack of resources is a barrier faced by nearly every community involvement strategy. The 2013 Cone Communications Global CSR Study states:

Companies are looking at how they can leverage their resources into volunteerism and community engagement in ways that make sense for the business and yield maximum impact. The return on that investment is essential.

Existing programs that are highly impactful, such as international volunteering led by organizations like those listed here, typically engage a very small percentage of employees. While the strategy is good, the engagement is narrow.

Does applying the bulk of resources to a narrow strategy ultimately limit impact?

(As a side note, I want to make it clear that applying core capacities to addressing social or environmental concerns is always preferred. What we are emphasizing here is that one massive program for a small number of people may be worth broadening.)

What Really Works

Without question, a solid strategy that aligns with business initiatives while empowering employee choice is essential. But introducing a new strategy implies change. And change is hard. There’s a reason why Peter Drucker said culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Corporate social responsibility in particular implies a peculiar type of change. Companies were not created to “do good” but rather, to make money for their stakeholders. Thankfully, humans are creatures with souls and we have required our companies to evolve. CSR and community involvement strategies are good and they’re getting better every day. What needs attention now is corporate culture, and culture begins with the heart of the individual.

Together, the community, the company, and the employee make up the elements of a complete three-dimensional logic model. By focusing on a combination of strategy and culture, never sacrificing one for the other, community involvement programs will achieve impacts that will catapult the industry to a new and necessary level. Click here for ideas and resources on how to integrate culture change with your strategy.

Want to continue the conversation?

Join our webinar to learn why creating a sound strategy goes hand-in-hand with addressing your internal culture. Corporate Citizenship’s Megan DeYoung and our very own Chris Jarvis will show you how aligning your community and business strategies will reignite your community program, creating a mobilized workforce and maximum community impact.

Questions? Leave a comment below or email us at Also be sure to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Angela Parker Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
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