“Going Global” with Employee Volunteering Programs

By Christine Johnston

Throughout my academic career in International Development, I was taught by my many left-leaning professors that all I needed to know about corporations and their employees was that they were only working toward their own bottom line, making the big bucks and then making more bucks. That’s it.

But recently I’ve learned that this is an inaccurate characterization. In fact, plenty of corporations are very passionate about positive social change and outcomes—and not just in their own backyard—but worldwide. Global corporate citizenship is becoming a driving force in international volunteer initiatives and development.

The Cost of Volunteering

Volunteering internationally as a private individual can be very costly. Somewhere between airplane tickets, visas, time off of work, housing and food expenses, people interested in volunteering abroad simply give up. But through Employee Volunteering Programs (EVPs), many companies are making the dream of international volunteering a reality for their employees.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), for example, has an inspiring program called Project Belize. Since 2008, Project Belize has engaged PwC employees across the US in volunteering for Belize City schools. Not only have the local children and schools greatly benefited, but PwC employees (and by extension the company) have reaped the benefits as well. For more on Project Belize, see the video below.

For employees that participate in these programs, volunteering becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel the world spreading hope and helping where they can. It also provides a unique environment for colleagues to connect and cooperate on multiple levels. Is it really any wonder why employee engagement and retention is boosted by such programs?

It sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Want to learn more?

Whether you’re a business owner or manager considering an international EVP, an employee considering participating in your company’s existing program, or you’re just plain interested, check out RW co-founder Chris Jarvis’ talk on “Going Global” at The 4th Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference held by CDC Development Solutions in Washington D.C. this past April.

If you are a business owner or manager, the task of “Going Global” may seem overwhelming. Check out RW co-founder Angela Parker’s May 2013 blog post on the report LGB Associates and Realized Worth aim to offer companies to make the creation and implementation of an international EVP less of a “headache”.

What’s keeping you (or your employees) from volunteering internationally? Tell us all about it in comment section below.

Christine Johnston Interning Consultant

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