Amidst ongoing war in the Middle East, the global threat of climate change, Brexit and President-Elect Trump, the resilience of our world is often called into question. Luckily, our world consists of communities made of up individuals that have the power to increase their own resilience through actions such as volunteerism. This year’s discussion theme at IVCO was “increasing resilience of communities through volunteering.” I presented this link on behalf of Realized Worth and how it can have unique benefits through corporate volunteerism around the world.


By Christine Foster

In October I had the honour of attending and presenting at IVCO 2016 in Bonn, Germany. The conference, co-hosted by UN Volunteers, Forum and GIZ, brought together the world’s leading volunteer sending organizations with representatives of their partner sectors – such as Realized Worth! In keeping with the conference theme, I presented on how corporate volunteering can increase the resilience of communities and the individual volunteers themselves.

As RW co-founder Angela Parker wrote in March 2016, humanity “has survived by separating into groups and protecting those who are ‘in’ against those who are ‘out.’ … [because these groups] enabled [humans] to protect themselves from external threats.” As recent events have made painfully clear, the use of “the other” is still alive and well, threatening the resilience of our citizens and institutions.

Volunteerism offers a unique mechanism to provide proximity to “the other” and allows individuals from “in” and “out” groups to challenge and change their previously formed judgements and develop empathy for these individuals. Based on neuroscientific research, proximity and interaction can alter the brain’s reactions to these individuals and expand their empathy circle.

Realized Worth employs the Transformative Volunteering framework to our work. Why? RW believes that volunteerism can achieve more impact than the services it aims to deliver. As RW co-founder Chris Jarvis wrote in August 2016, transformative volunteering, when done correctly, has the potential to increase one’s empathy, and thereby the resilience of the individual volunteer. Volunteerism leads to a disruption of societal divisions and can increase empathy for others and the resilience of an individual as a result. The individual, empowered as an agent of change, will then bring that resilience to the systems they operate within – such as their company, their community, and the world. Breaking down divisions and building societal resilience is integral to achieving social progress through such initiatives as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the role of empathy and transformative volunteering in building individual and communal resilience, consider signing up for this free online course on Transformative Volunteering:

Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering
12 sessions in two parts
Part 1: Changing Hearts and Minds

Part 2: Leading the Change

The course is offered through RW Institute and is hosted by OpenSAP. Registration for the course is free and enrollment opens on January 11, 2017. More information will be available soon via

Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Christine Foster
Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist, Tata Consultancy Services
Follow Christine on Twitter
Connect with Christine on LinkedIn