Skills-Based Volunteering

Conferences, seminars and offsites have long been part of the corporate lexicon when it comes to professional development (to a tune of over $100 billion annually), but an increasingly powerful tool in the employee training arsenal is volunteerism.

Traditional employee volunteerism is alive and well, but some of today’s leading corporate programs are facilitating more strategic skills-based volunteerism in which specific business expertise (e.g., marketing, accounting) is applied to help nonprofits around the world solve complex problems and work more effectively.  By lending talented staff, the return on investment for business is a more content employee whose skills have been sharpened and whose professional perspective is enhanced.

Yet, as is often the case in such initiatives, there is a disconnect between rhetoric and reality.  According to Deloitte’s* fifth annual Volunteer IMPACT Survey , the vast majority (91 percent) of Fortune 500 HR managers believe skills-based volunteering adds value to training and development programs, but only a handful (16 percent) intentionally and regularly offer such opportunities to employees.

Companies should strive to minimize this gap because skills-based volunteerism is a thoughtful, cost-effective approach to advancing institutional knowledge and developing the next generation of corporate leaders.