Realized Worth is proud of our partner, the RW Institute, and their recent launch of the 2021 Corporate Volunteering, Giving and Grants Review. What goes into gathering the extensive data and insights in this report? We’re glad you asked! With this 3-part series, we’re pleased to offer an inside look at the conversations that took place behind the scenes with industry leaders. Want to hear what software executives and CSR managers have to say about workplace giving and volunteering? Dive in and get the inside scoop. We hope this series will provide an additional layer of rich insight into the world of technology and for those reading and using the 2021 Corporate Volunteering, Giving and Grants Review. Enjoy!
This is part 2 of a 3-part series.
An interview with Boudewijn Wijnands, Founder and CEO at Deedmob.
10 years from now, how do you hope technology supports corporate citizenship? How do the events of 2020 (i.e. COVID-19, Black Lives Matter) play into that vision?
Our Deedmob platform, CoronaHelpers, is used by the Dutch National Government and other countries. Our partners connected retired doctors and nurses, among others, who wanted to help in the worst part of the pandemic. Our corporate partners were also a fundamental part of CoronaHelpers by giving skilled volunteering aid to local municipalities struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This initiative received a lot of media attention and was a great example of how technology can be leveraged to do good.
This example shows us yet again that corporate citizenship can and should be an essential part of an organization’s identity beyond just “greenwashing”. Many organizations espouse CSR values, but do not always act upon it even while a younger generation of employees demand it. We believe that consumers are also becoming more vocal about what companies are doing and are now demanding real impact. Companies that transition to true impact will be more prepared for the future, positioning themselves as a great place to work.
Great corporate examples include Red Bull and TomTom that use their marketing and coding skills in their volunteering activities, making a true impact with local charities. These are profitable businesses as well as great employers. Corporates are going to be involved in social issues whether they like it or not. It’s not just about politics or society. Governments cannot solve all the problems of today and companies cannot avoid these topics. We believe that corporations are part of the larder societal solution; thus, they need to be connected to local social issues. Ultimately, we are all part of the solution and the idea that any stakeholder can stay out of the social and environmental conversation is becoming outdated.
Companies still need to think about how to move beyond CSR slogans and instead become the leading forces in turning “one-liner CSR” twitter feeds into something positive and actionable. This is a huge opportunity for companies – not just a threat. Our Deedmob philosophy gives corporations the platform tool to do exactly that.
Is virtual volunteering here to stay? How do you think the technology marketplace needs to evolve in order to support this trend?
For some particular functions, like boards, virtual volunteering is definitely here to stay. The longing for more personal contact is also here to stay, both on and offline. Rates of loneliness and psychological help requests are skyrocketing due to lockdowns and not just in the older population, but also in the <40 age group category. Personal contact is very important, therefore virtual calls are here to stay in combination with in-person interactions.
I can imagine a transition to a more hybrid model where it’s a balance between the two – virtual and in-person. We do not yet know all the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase of virtual volunteering activities, but our platform (and many others) will be multi-functional to accommodate both online and offline activities.
What do you feel are the key features in a platform that people are asking for? What’s missing from today’s technology marketplace?
Companies more and more want to measure impact. Quantifying their impact is important for community building and their own internal KPI’s. So, we’re seeing more and more analytical features developed. We’re also seeing companies increasingly moving away from “Greenwashing” to skill-based volunteering. This is a very positive trend and increases skill-based matching features.
What stops companies from investing in workplace volunteering and giving technology?
Many companies see workplace volunteering technology still as a nice-to-have rather than an essential part of the organization. Often the first area where companies cut financially is CSR programs. Management teams at corporations often still have a ticking the box mentality when it comes to CSR – their main corporate priority is selling their products. These types of corporations often do not see the connection and power of giving back to the community, the link it has to increases in new talent applications and the reach it extends to new consumer groups. Investing in workplace volunteering and giving technology is a lucrative opportunity that many corporations have yet to, but must seize to stay relevant.
If you had to put yourself in the shoes of your customers—the people in Corporate Responsibility making the choice to bring on a technology vendor—what do you think are their biggest priorities when looking at a solution provider?
Finding tools that increase employee engagement. We believe in order to empower employees to volunteer and do good is to allow them to choose activities and causes that they care about, linked to the corporate’s identity and based on their skills. We provide the technology to enable them to do exactly that; even allowing them to create their own volunteering projects and initiatives (if the company gives them permission to do this).
Corporate volunteering technology is not the solution to create the best CSR program from nothing. You need to have a positive CSR culture in place that is stimulated and supported from top to bottom. The technology tool just leverages the CSR culture that is already built.
What didn’t we talk about that you wished we talked about?
More philosophically, do companies ask themselves why they want to do corporate volunteering in the first place? Are they just following a trend or do they want to do it for different reasons? We believe that companies are part of society. I would challenge companies to ask themselves if what they’re doing (including their CSR teams) is making their company and the world a better place. Ultimately, employees will get a sense of purpose working for a company that is trying to solve societal issues; retaining talent. Companies that hold CSR closer to the heart are closer to the heart of employees as well. When you align these two things as a company, you can really change society through corporate volunteering.
More about Deedmob
Deedmob is not just a corporate volunteering platform.
Deedmob started when there was a lot of unrest in society. Social problems were not being solved by national politics, but instead were pushed onto local social sectors to resolve. Unfortunately, despite strong ambitions and an idealistic mindset, the social sector did not have the technology and resources to solve these problems at scale. At the same time many citizens had skills they wanted to contribute to society that were not being utilised.
We thought, what if we could activate everyone; for example, individuals who might be working for a corporation, a retired person or a student; by matching them to volunteering opportunities. Deedmobbuilds innovative CRM tools bringing visibility to the entire pool of potential volunteers and their skills for charitable organizations. Learn more on BBC or Forbes.
Boudewijn Wijnands is founder, CEO of Deedmob. Deedmob is the largest social-tech startup for the social & voluntary sector in Europe since being launched at Oxford in 2017. The Deedmob software product is used nationally and internationally by more than 10,500 charities, companies, municipalities and governments. More than 2,600,000 people around the world volunteer using Deedmob’s technology. During the recent Covid-19 outbreak, the company gained a lot of international attention by launching several CoronaHelpers platforms worldwide. Deedmob’s technology was ranked highest in a report initiated by Bill & Melinda Gates on corporate volunteering technology. Boudewijn is a graduate of the University of Oxford, University of Amsterdam and was included in the Forbes 30-under-30 class of 2020 in the Social Entrepreneurship category along with Greta Thunberg. Boudewijn is also a member of the national Dutch think tank Denkwerk.