Celebrating International Volunteer Day: Build Pride & Connections Through Corporate Giving

Nancy Fonseca

Author

This article has been adapted to suit an Australian audience and to celebrate International Volunteers Day, originally written by – Nancy Fonseca from Great Place To Work Canada.

Corporate giving plays a pivotal role in fostering connections within an organisation. When people come together for a greater purpose, they build a natural connection that is strong and enduring, and they are united in a special way. When their organisation supports and encourages them to give back, the feel-good energy is palpable, and it crosses over into all aspects of corporate life. 

Feeling connected through corporate giving is even more important amid global uncertainties and evolving work landscapes. Plus, giving back is just good business because helping the community where you work and operate lifts everyone up. 

As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, it’s a great opportunity to not only recognise the efforts and invaluable contributions of volunteers worldwide, but also reflect on the transformative power of corporate giving. This special day provides a broader context on how volunteerism and giving back help creates pride and fosters connection within organisations. 

During the Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2022 data analysis we learned that employees not only want their workplace to be committed to the community, but they also want the opportunity to participate directly and be supported in giving-back as part of that commitment. Within the Best Workplaces™ in Australia for 2022;  

  • 94% said “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.”  
  • 94% said “I feel I make a difference here.” 

 

These findings are even more relevant now, as companies focus on attracting and retaining top talent during economic downturn and uncertainty. We know people want to get involved in causes, and with organisations that make their community and the world better for everyone.  It’s this sense of community connection that resonates with people, particularly as people look to create new bonds and close the gap on loneliness. 

As an organisation, creating connections through corporate giving also creates pride; and pride and connection are two key elements of work culture that drive employee success and satisfaction.  The Best Workplaces™ in Australia understand this relationship and they take time to understand what resonates with their people to build a strong foundation for their corporate giving.  

 

Giving Back Creates Pride  

At the Best Workplaces™ in Australia for 2022, employees’ responses to survey questions related to pride enjoyed an average of 95% support. Statements included:  

  • 98% of employees are proud to tell others where they work 
  • 96% of employees look forward to coming to work 
  • 88% of employees feel a sense of pride when they look at what they accomplish 

 

 This sense of deep-rooted pride is something all organisations can work toward, and corporate giving is one key means of doing so. Giving back to the community sends a strong and clear message that your organisation cares about more than just profit and is willing to invest in people and causes that make the world a better place. 

Pride is also closely related to engagement, and organisations that give back also enjoy high rates of employee engagement. Employees at Australia’s Best Workplaces™ feel they make a difference (94%), are willing to give extra to get the job done (96%) and believe their work has special meaning beyond “just a job” (92%).  This level of connection with a deeper meaning and purpose only serves to enhance employee experience and create a strong bond that can withstand unexpected pressures and disruption in the workplace.  

 

Giving Back Creates Connection  

Beyond connection to a deeper purpose, corporate giving creates deep connections between people. When people come together for a greater purpose, they build bonds and friendships that are uniquely beneficial to a robust and healthy work culture. These bonds can be relied upon to mitigate the stresses of work as well as the stress, and perhaps even despair, people feel as they manage their way through a world where turmoil and divisiveness is seemingly streamed or broadcast 24/7.  Having people around that you can trust and count on is the best remedy and at Australia’s Best Workplaces™ employees enjoy an average 96% agreement rate on statements related to camaraderie including: 

  • People care about each other here. (98% agreement)  
  • You can count on people to cooperate (95% agreement)  
  • This is a fun place to work. (95% agreement)  

 

Bringing people together to participate in a common cause not only strengthens bonds between them; it allows employees to see each other from a non-work perspective and may showcase skills that aren’t readily apparent in their work-related tasks. 

 

Giving Back – Start Now  

There are so many opportunities to give back and no matter what you do, it will make a difference. To maximise your impact with employees and create long-lasting culture benefits, the key is getting your people involved. Find out what they are passionate about, support their individual community-based projects, and start small and build on what works. Not all organisations will be able to develop a charitable foundation or sponsor a large-scale community event, however most are able to adopt good environmental practices, match employee donations, or get involved in a local charity.  

Australia’s Best Workplaces™ come from a variety of industries, some are small, and some are large, and majority of these workplaces have committed to corporate giving in meaningful ways. Here are some ideas to inspire your giving back initiatives: 

  • Position volunteering as a corporate value and make giving back a core part of the culture and something that employees consider integral to the way they operate and the decisions they make.  
  • Use internal messaging and dashboards to keep employees informed and up-to-date with the impact their actions are making.  
  • Encourage broad participation in volunteer events and include children and other family members, retirees, customers and suppliers. The more engagement with the community, the deeper the connection with giving back.  
  • Beyond using corporate skills and assets to help non-profit partners, leverage specific employee skills to provide services needed in the community. Employees who sew can help tailor dresses and suits for underprivileged people who are looking for work or those with first aid certification can lend official help at events.  
  • Encourage ERGs to include community investment as part of their mission and support them to plan activities and partnerships that are meaningful to their members.  
  • Provide a variety of ways for people to get involved so employees can choose what fits best for them. This can include an annual giving program to support one or a few charities that resonate with your people, employee donation matching, and paid time off to volunteer at an organisation of their choosing.  
  • Build camaraderie by establishing a ‘Volunteer Day’ where the whole organisation volunteers together, sponsoring corporate teams, and hosting fun events to raise money for the team.  
  • Sponsor community-based drives for specific populations (books for schools, shoes for developing countries, nappies for young moms and blankets for shelters).  
  • Think global with a local connection, as more and more people want to be part of large-scale change initiatives. 

 

Volunteering and giving back creates a substantial, lasting impact on your people and your culture. Corporate giving brings people together and creates a robust sense of pride. By developing deep roots and connections with your people you can withstand a variety of pressures and maintain a strong and healthy culture while at the same time enjoying all the satisfaction and pride that comes from serving others and contributing to a great community.  

If you’re not already using the Great Place To Work survey, reach out to us to learn about how we can help you improve employee engagement and become eligible for one of our Best Workplaces lists.  

Nancy Fonseca

Author

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