Global Pro Bono – What’s it Worth? (Part 2)

More and more companies are launching international corporate volunteering programs. So what do these companies get in return for their investment? What’s it really worth? This is the conclusion a 2-part blog. 

By Laura Asiala, Senior Director of Client Relations and Public Affairs, PYXERA Global

Are there real business drivers in Global Pro Bono?

Laura Blog Photo 2

In part 1 of this discussion I mentioned that when we (PYXERA Global) talk about international corporate volunteerism (ICV) or global pro bono, companies want to know what they will we get for it … “What’s it worth?”, they ask.

Be sure to read part 1 for a description of ICV.

In part 2 of this discussion I’d like to explore two more the outcomes that can result from a successfully implemented international corporate volunteer program. Remember to ask yourself: What else could I implement to get the same results, and how much would that cost?

Last week we noted that the outcomes fall into three categories:

  1. Talent development: Attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent.
  2. New business: Gaining insights to new products, services, and markets, and introducing brands.
  3. Risk reduction: Preventing crises through deep understanding, stakeholder engagement, strong reputations and creating resilient organizations in times of challenge and change.

New Markets and Products

New business is born from insight

How do you launch a new product or service successfully? How do you enter a brand new market? It begins with insight.

Most large companies spend about 2-6% of their gross revenues on marketing. Approximately 10% of that is generally allocated to market research. Thus, in a firm with revenues of one billion dollars, you would expect marketing expenses to be in the range of $20 million, with a corresponding market research budget of $2 million. For a fraction of the cost, a well-trained pro bono team can gain insights that provide that first step.

And yet, this is only the first step in a long process of successfully developing and launching a new product, new service, and likely a new business model. One thing, however, is certain: without the initial insight, there is no new anything. It’s required to get to “yes”. It’s also required to get to “no”–and anyone with experience in marketing knows the value of getting to a fast “no”. It’s always difficult to quantify the resources you didn’t squander because you were able to make a fast assessment; being able to quickly articulate and test a value proposition has high value. What’s your company’s budget for market research, prototyping, and model development? ICV teams—appropriately trained, strategically aligned and directly linked to the internal process for innovation and new business development start to look like quite a bargain, and an important part of the portfolio.

Beyond insight, ICV teams play an important role in establishing the company’s brand in a new market. Service works amazingly well! It opens doors and sets a welcoming framework. Not only do the projects serve as learning platforms for the companies who send volunteers—the people in the market experience a company’s brand in an authentic and positive way. This spills over to existing markets as well. The good work that IBM does through their Corporate Service Corps is noticed and admired by their existing clients, their prospective clients, and their shareholders.

Consider the resources invested in building attractive brands to these important stakeholders–millions of dollars of investment for multibillion dollar companies. Again, an ICV program–appropriately aligned, engaged to deliver value and communicate impact—is a bargain, and a valuable component of a holistic brand strategy.

It’s about Risk Management

What’s the value of a crisis averted?

What do companies pay to deal with a crisis? What interest might insurance companies have in enabling their corporate clients to proactively prevent crises? What is the value of the benefit of the doubt?

At this point, you probably see the value of ICV programs as part of a proactive strategy for talent development and business growth, but what you might find surprising is how efficient they can be at reducing risk. Again, none of this is considered in isolation. The ICV programs need to be part of an integrated strategy, but they can also prove to be powerful ways to build or improve key stakeholder relationships, gain insight into long, global supply chains, and make deposits into an organization’s “bank” of public trust.

The responsibility of multinational companies to control their supply chains—far beyond their fence lines—grows every year, and the risk of not knowing grows as well. “I didn’t know” is becoming a much less acceptable defense, and has an impact on every aspect of the business—from customers to employees to shareholders. How much do multinational companies spend on ensuring the sustainability of their supply chain, their good reputations, and the avoidance of other risks? Again, we’re talking millions of dollars. The relative cost of an ICV program pales in comparison.

I don’t mean to insinuate that a single team or a single project of international corporate volunteerism answers all of these objectives. But I would strongly assert that an ICV approach always offers multiple returns on a relatively small investment with regards to improving talent, driving new business, and potentially reducing risk. And it does so while offering skills, experience, and capacity to organizations in places of this world who desperately need it, and that’s a whole different kind of return.

Follow PYXERA Global:

About our guest author

Laura Asiala

Passionate about the power of business to solve-or help solve-the world’s most intransigent problems, she leads the efforts to attract more participation of businesses to contribute to the sustainable development, through their people and their work. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Net Impact. Before PYXERA Global, she was the Director of Corporate Citizenship at Dow Corning Corporation, where she led the development of their international corporate volunteer program (Dow Corning Citizen Service Corps) and oversaw CSR strategies and relationships, including the company’s public-private partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Laura was also a recent interviewee of our podcast, Realizing Your Worth, which you can listen to here.

Some ways we can help

If you’d like our help with your employee volunteering or workplace giving program, please feel free to drop us a line at contact@realizedworth.com or call us at 855-926-4678. You can also take a look at some of the services we offer.

And be sure to check out our newest offering, Cohort Consulting. Not only will you receive all of the services we provide for Fortune 500 companies, but each month you’ll collaborate with others in your field to discuss best practices, address challenges, and receive tools for running a great program.

Click here for more details about Cohort Consulting.

Photo via Captions of Christy

 

Global Pro Bono – What’s It Worth? (Part 1)

More and more companies are launching international corporate volunteering programs. So what do these companies get in return for their investment? What’s it really worth? This is part 1 of a 2-part blog. 

By Laura Asiala, Senior Director of Client Relations and Public Affairs, PYXERA Global

Laura Blog Photo

What is the ROI of Global Pro Bono?

This is one of the top five questions we are asked at PYXERA Global, when talking about the type of programs for which we are most well-known: international corporate volunteerism (ICV), also known as global pro bono.

Although they weren’t the first to invent the idea of placing talented, highly-skilled employees into other organizations—generously sharing their talent for the good of another organization, community, or cause—IBM certainly has earned a leadership position in this practice. Each year, they send 500 of their top talents to work in underserved markets through their Corporate Service Corps, working on projects which leverage their vast array of business skills and experiences—building capacity in SMEs, NGOs, and government ministries. Other leading companies with similar programs include The Dow Chemical Company, GSK, SAP, EY, BD, Merck, PepsiJohn Deere and many more.

Great Results at a Fraction of the Cost

So the main question is what do these companies get for it? What’s it worth? To answer this, let’s take a look at the outcomes that can result from a successfully implemented international corporate volunteer program and see if you agree that the outcomes are in fact valuable. Maybe the more important question to ask is this: what else could you implement to get the same results, and how much would that cost?

The outcomes fall into three categories:

  1. Talent development: Attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent.
  2. New business: Gaining insights into new products, services, and markets, as well as introducing brands.
  3. Risk reduction: Preventing crises through deep understanding, stakeholder engagement, strong reputations, and creating resilient organizations in times of challenge and change.

Category One: Leadership Development

ICV is a fraction of the cost of traditional leadership programs—and it works.

Talent attraction, development, engagement, and retention are always priorities of the most successful organizations. Companies only deliver on their value propositions when they have strong, well-trained people who can deliver on it over an extended period of time.

Global pro bono assignments are one of the most effective, efficient leadership development strategies available. The rough cost (exclusive of salaries) of an ICV project is $15,000 per person for a 3-4 week assignment. An ICV project is roughly half the cost of a master’s degree at a public university and less than half that of executive leadership programs at Ivy League schools. They are fraction of the cost of a single ex-pat assignment.

Read more about the business case for leadership development.

There is now compelling research which demonstrates that the leadership skills acquired during these assignments, including change mastery, team building skills, and intercultural sensitivity, are every bit as sound as the skills gained through the more expensive development options. Carefully crafted, short-term, immersion service learning assignments are effective and tremendously efficient—for both the individual and the company—for building global leadership competencies.

Retention

Retention is another major outcome. If you lose a top performer, how much does it cost to recruit? What are the chances that you’ll replace a top performer with another top performer? What are the opportunities lost?

Read more about the business case for employee engagement.

Our clients’ post assignment assessments demonstrate that these programs make employees more loyal. According to a 2011 IBM survey, 76% of past employees said the experience boosted their desire to complete their business career at IBM. If you look at this only in terms of the money saved in recruitment—often several months’ salary—the program pays for itself.

Talent Attraction

Net Impact’s Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 reveals that employees who have an opportunity to make a direct social impact through their jobs report higher satisfaction than those that don’t—in fact by a 2:1 ratio. This is backed up by 45% of graduating students who say they would even take a pay cut to do so. International corporate volunteer assignments are of course not the only way to do this, but they are one of the ultimate “plum assignments” and demonstrate a company’s commitment to meaningful, impactful, trailblazing work. This attracts courageous, smart people to join.

Read more about the business case for attracting top talent.

What about all the other employees?

It’s like we had 10,000 phone-a-friends.

Obviously the people who are selected for these assignments are highly engaged, but what about everyone else? Do others in the company feel left out? Actually, it’s just the opposite! To the extent that the projects are meaningful, colleagues of participants often demonstrate pride. In many cases, companies set up ways for participants to interact with their colleagues when on assignment.

PYXERA Global had one client who fielded a team, working on improving the supply chain for producing clean cookstoves in India. A quality analysis revealed a critical welding issue. Although no one on the team had this expertise, they knew who did! A description of the problem went out one evening to a group of colleagues back home. It was “caught” by the trades group. After a little lunchtime brainstorming that was responded to by email, voila!—a solved issue. It’s like we had 10,000 ‘phone-a-friends’, one of the participants remarked.

Companies spend significant resources to attract, develop, engage, and retain their employees. Certainly an ICV program alone is not sufficient. It is, however, an excellent and affordable part of the portfolio of activities to do so.

Be sure to watch for Part 2 where we look at how ICV programs can result in new business and offer fantastic risk management.

Follow PYXERA Global:

About our guest author

Laura Asiala

Passionate about the power of business to solve-or help solve-the world’s most intransigent problems, she leads the efforts to attract more participation of businesses to contribute to the sustainable development, through their people and their work. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Net Impact. Before PYXERA Global, she was the Director of Corporate Citizenship at Dow Corning Corporation, where she led the development of their international corporate volunteer program (Dow Corning Citizen Service Corps) and oversaw CSR strategies and relationships, including the company’s public-private partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Laura was also a recent interviewee of our podcast, Realizing Your Worth, which you can listen to here.

Some ways we can help

If you’d like our help with your employee volunteering or workplace giving program, please feel free to drop us a line at contact@realizedworth.com or call us at 855-926-4678. You can also take a look at some of the services we offer.

And be sure to check out our newest offering, Cohort Consulting. Not only will you receive all of the services we provide for Fortune 500 companies, but each month you’ll collaborate with others in your field to discuss best practices, address challenges, and receive tools for running a great program.

Click here for more details about Cohort Consulting.

 

Choosing A Vendor For Giving & Volunteering? Here’s Some Help

Picking a vendor for your employee volunteering and giving program?  Here’s some guidance that may save you some time and headache.

Time for Change - ClockChoosing a Vendor?

Managing your employee volunteering and giving program can be exhausting – but it shouldn’t be. There are some great online tools and technology to help you plan and manage great events, communicate effectively, and capture the right data showing impact.

Choosing the right vendor, however, can be a long and trying process.

At the upcoming ’13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship’ in NYC (April 3,4) we’ll be taking a hard look at the process of vendor selection. The best part – the vendors will on be at the conference too – ready and willing to answer your questions.

The Summit has pulled together the Technology Series  which explores the impact that technology has in the realm of employee engagement. The series focuses on how new technology is evolving the landscape of engagement in many areas — from the user experience to the ability to measure the ROI and effectiveness of programs. The series showcases multiple viewpoints, including corporations with engagement programs, technology providers/vendors, consultants, and federations.

Be sure to check out our comparison chart here.

Check out the blog posts so far:

Keep checking back for more great content and be sure to join us in New York next week for two LIVE tech sessions:

  • Technology and Giving: A Revolving Door of Influence | April 3rd 1:00 to 2:15pm
  • Navigating the Vendor RFP Process | April 3rd 2:30 to 3:45pm & April 4th 1:15 to 2:30pm

More about the summit

We’re excited to attend the 13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship. Attendees will interact with speakers from a variety of backgrounds, professions, and fields, all aiming to deliver key strategies for making employee engagement matter. Work teams, hands-on volunteering, peer-to-peer conversations, engagement labs and engagement tools are sure to make the 2014 Summit the most engaging one of the year.

How can we help?

Realized Worth works with companies to plan and implement giving and volunteering programs. Our programs always integrate the company’s workplace giving software into the overall strategy for engaging employees. Can we help you choose a tool and/or motivate employees to use the tool you’ve got? Leave a comment below or just send me an email and we’ll set up a time to chat: angela@realizedworth.com.


Angela Parker
Realized Worth Co-Founder

PODCAST: A Look At International Volunteering

Realizing Your Worth, Episode II: A Look At International Volunteering with Laura Asiala, PYXERA Global

A discussion with Laura Asiala, PYXERA Global‘s Senior Director of Client Relations and Public Affairs, covering shared value, what “PYXERA Global” stands for, and much more. Click the player below to listen.

About our guest

Laura Asiala

Passionate about the power of business to solve-or help solve-the world’s most intransigent problems, she leads the efforts to attract more participation of businesses to contribute to the sustainable development, through their people and their work. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Net Impact. Before PYXERA Global, she was the Director of Corporate Citizenship at Dow Corning Corporation, where she led the development of their international corporate volunteer program (Dow Corning Citizen Service Corps) and oversaw CSR strategies and relationships, including the company’s public-private partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Follow Laura on Twitter

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