I have the honor of serving as Executive Director of the Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta (CVC). Now in its 30th year, the CVC’s mission is to support members to deliver business results through their strategic commitment to civic engagement and social impact. The CVC provides year-round programming for our corporate members, so that they have access to best practices and resources that support their community engagement work.
The community-facing activities of our 100-company membership has evolved over time. From small, boutique consulting firms with fewer than 10 employees to Fortune 1000 companies, CVC members are moving beyond simple direct service projects and turning their focus to additional ways they can deepen their community investment. Many are aligning service work with their company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, and others are embracing technology in new and exciting ways.
In order to monitor this rapidly changing field and the needs of our constituents, the CVC annually surveys its members to learn more about how we are doing and to help us identify priority programming needs. Several themes stood out in this year’s survey:
- Companies are looking for new ways to measure impact in a virtual/hybrid/limited in-person world. They are considering how connecting employees through volunteering impacts ESG goals and affects their sense of belonging. Gone are the days when companies simply reported how many employees showed up for a project and how many hours they spent volunteering. Today, corporate citizenship leaders are monitoring how service activities impact equity and future workforce development and factoring in stories from employees about how the volunteer experience affected them personally and professionally. Did participants gain job readiness skills during the project? Did volunteering make the employee feel better about their employer? Did getting involved positively impact an employee’s mental health or well-being? Measuring impact matters, both on the community level and internally on the employee side.
- Skills-based volunteering is taking the spotlight as employees express a desire to feel a deeper sense of purpose. For years, companies have talked about wanting to offer more skills-based volunteering opportunities, but they often put it off because it was perceived as too time consuming for volunteerism leaders to manage. During the early days of the pandemic, many companies found that they had more time to focus on talking with nonprofit partners to better understand their challenges and to help identify solutions. Simultaneously, many employees were feeling isolated and wanted to be part of something bigger. The solution? Assigning skills-based volunteer individuals and teams to projects that would address nonprofit partners’ needs. Companies quickly realized that this was a win-win: Nonprofits were able to find new and better ways to deliver their missions, and corporate employees were feeling personally fulfilled and developing new professional skills. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) leaders are taking note of these lessons learned and continuing to expand on their skills-based offerings as today’s workplace continues to evolve.
- CSR leaders are being looked upon as social issue experts, and often they are the first professionals that corporate executives turn to in times of social unrest. Employees, clients and customers now expect companies to take a stand on social issues, but the message must be authentic. As companies make position statements, they must also truly listen to employees, shareholders and community partners and take meaningful action. No one knows how to navigate and address these issues better than a CSR professional! Many CVC members are now in charge of informing and crafting position statements in times of crisis. They are also the go-to people for connecting employees, dollars and resources with experienced community partners who are addressing social challenges in real time.
As the CVC recognizes this milestone year, we are looking forward to addressing these topics and others. We are considering what the next 30 years will look like in this field of work, and leaning on experts like Revere to help grow our understanding of technology and how it can help us work more productively.