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Inspire volunteerism in the workplace through CSR

(Manila, Philippines, May 10, 2012) – In a highly competitive economy, should organizations still be involved in responding to social problems? “Even more so!” says the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF), a network of over 70 operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations that promote and enhance the strategic practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards sustained national development.

Any company – big or small – can create a significant, positive impact beyond the confines of the workplace. “Companies exist as part of a community. To make an impact, CSR programs must truly inspire people in the organization,” LCF president Camille Buenaventura said. “By helping fulfill their company’s role as a corporate citizen, employees clearly perceive their personal impact, which enhances their self-worth and sense of purpose.”

Volunteers, in a practical sense, are strategic assets that help achieve business goals. Being able to make a difference – both to the community and the corporate bottom line – translates into being more productive, motivated, and proactive in the long run.

The 2011 report of the Global Corporate Volunteering Research Project by the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) states that corporate volunteering is “a dynamic, global force, driven by companies that want to make a significant difference to serious global and local problems.”

Globally, there is renewed energy for volunteerism. The year 2011 is the tenth anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Volunteers, and the work of volunteers around the world has been vital to achieving progress on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals to end extreme poverty by 2015.

In the Philippines, LCF is at the forefront of promoting volunteerism among its more than 70 corporate members. This year, it continues to advance the practice of CSR and volunteerism in its annual CSR Expo taking place on July 5 and 6 (Thursday and Friday), at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City. The theme for this year’s Expo is “Transforming the Business of Giving Back”.

According to Buenaventura, “Companies that encourage volunteerism among their employees build the organization and create a bigger impact by achieving CSR goals through collective action.” Building and nurturing a culture of volunteerism in the workplace involves a few tried and tested approaches, says Buenaventura.

One approach is by developing a clear CSR mission statement. Give employees a clear understanding of what social or environmental issue your organization is trying to help address. Create a CSR mission statement to aid goal-setting. For instance, if your business uses paper heavily, as in the publishing industry, you can make it your mission to reduce your carbon footprint through tree planting. Or, if you produce and sell beverages or food products, you can offset water use by helping communities in need of clean, safe, accessible water through water stewardship.

It also helps to lead by example. Directors, chief executives, or managers that initiate solutions or demonstrate the value of community involvement send a positive message to employees and instill in them the value of giving back to society. “Leaders who reach out and share their time, resources and talents with the communities or beneficiaries are often also highly successful at managing their own organizations,” Buenaventura said.

Another approach is to communicate your advocacy in a compelling way. Clearly communicating the organization’s advocacy increases visibility, fosters goodwill, and enhances the campaign’s impact. It also develops and strengthens partnerships with other organizations and the community. Communicating your CSR agenda in a compelling way will raise employees’ awareness, interest, and commitment to your CSR campaign.

Another tip to remember is that a single employee cannot do all these alone. A company needs to set up a committee to create CSR policies and strategies. Gather or nominate staff from various departments or, if possible, employ personnel to lead in achieving CSR objectives. This way, key personnel can still focus on core business activities, while the assigned committee oversees the social or environmental impact of your operations, compliance with environmental laws and regulations, as well as ethical business standards.

Lastly, do monitor and evaluate your CSR program. After all is said and done, asking the right questions to employee participants may mean a more successful CSR run the following year. Inquire about staff participation and how they view their contribution. Carefully review results and expectations and encourage feedback or suggestions on how to enhance the current program.

Organizations can promote volunteerism in different ways but ideally, it should be an integral part of corporate culture. Ultimately, strong motivation, positive reinforcement, and encouragement are key to getting employees to volunteer or actively participate in CSR programs.

To learn more about the 11th CSR Expo, visit www.lcf.org.ph/csrexpo2012, or contact Karla Butiong at 757-3500 or lcfcsrexpo@teamasia.com for general information and sponsorship opportunities.

About the League of Corporate Foundations
The League of Corporate Foundations is a network of over 70 operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations that promotes and enhances the strategic practice of Corporate Social Responsibility among its members and the larger business community, towards sustained national development.