What is Employer Supported Volunteering?

Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) provides employees with the opportunity to volunteer in the community with support provided from their employer. This may be in the form of time off for individual volunteering, team events or even ongoing support with a community partner. ESV provides real benefits to the business/employer, the volunteers and the Third sector organisations they support. By helping tackle local issues, employers can benefit both themselves and the communities in which they operate.

How do businesses benefit?

Employers can get a range of benefits from ESV, including:

  • Network development;
  • Employee skills development;
  • Staff attraction and retention;
  • Increased staff morale;
  • Reputation and brand associations;
  • Effective investment in the community;
  • Consumer purchase preference.

How do the employees benefit?

There are significant personal benefits to be gained for volunteering staff, including:

  • Development of competencies such as out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving;
  • Demonstrate skills that staff is not normally able to in the workplace;
  • Project management skills;
  • Relationship building and team working skills development;
  • Shared sense of achievement and the potential to leave a lasting legacy;
  • Increased understanding of social issues and the third sector in general;
  • Opportunity to develop leadership skills.

 How do third sector organisations benefit?

Third sector organisations get a range of benefits from ESV, including:

  • Volunteer skills add to their physical capacity;
  • Raised profile;
  • Increased partnership working;
  • Access to new specialist skills and knowledge;
  • Access to extra resources;
  • Improved services;

Why do businesses need to pay for ESV?

Companies or individuals should not have to pay to volunteer, however where time and resources are needed to enable volunteering to happen, voluntary support organisations have to charge for this work to recover their costs. Organisations that help connect employee and professional volunteers with opportunities within their community should be able to achieve full-cost recovery for the services they provide. For individual volunteers, coming from the general public, these services are mainly supported through grants. Nevertheless, providing support to Private sector businesses and their volunteers is practically un-fundable through grants and other fundraising techniques.

This leaves a gap in funding as although there are willing volunteers, whose employers are generously giving them time away from their normal work to help a community cause, there are still costs in organising volunteering opportunities and initiatives. On almost all occasions, the charity being supported does not have the funds to do this. ESV intermediary service providers (such as Volunteer’s Dundee initiative, the Knowledge Exchange Network) do not usually have funds or grants to do this and must reclaim their service delivery costs from their partners or will not be able to sustain their service and much needed  community support through employee volunteering will not be feasible.

What is a Skills-based volunteering?

Skills-based volunteering is about giving specific skills and expertise to a Third sector organisation, such as a HR professional support through the development or review of HR policies. Skills-based ESV projects provide opportunities for businesses to make a real impact in their local community as they can provide skills and expertise that are often outside of the beneficiary charity’s capacity or budget. Skills that are in high demand include marketing an communications, management and financial expertise but there are also requests for IT support and fundraising/funding applications.

What is physical and team-based volunteering?

Physical and team-based volunteering is about the giving of time (and potentially some skills) to a Third sector organisation in the form of a team activity. The expectation is that the staff from the ESV project will gain knowledge around what the third sector provides to the city building up at the same time their team working ability. These activities may include helping deliver a charity event, support a community café, or decorating a community venue in disrepair.

How can Volunteer Dundee help?

Volunteer Dundee has developed an Employer Supported Volunteering intermediary service, the “Knowledge Exchange Network” initiative that is aimed to connect employee volunteers from the corporate sector with voluntary opportunities in the local Third sector. The scope of the scheme is to grow volunteering enabled workplaces in the Dundee area, release capacity and skills into the local Third sector, hence improving their sustainability and growth.