April 10th to April 16th is National Volunteer Week, a celebration of Canada's 12.7 million volunteers -- that's nearly a third of the country's population. With such a passion for volunteerism, it's no wonder that Canadians, like employees in other parts of the world, are looking to their places of work for more opportunities to give back.
While National Volunteer Week shines a light on volunteerism, it's important for business leaders to consider the benefits of giving back year round. Here are three reasons why every season is ripe for corporate giving:
1. Companies bring diverse assets to the table.
While individuals can donate money and time, a company can also bring its employees and products, a powerful combination to "wrap itself" around an organization or cause. Salesforce pioneered the 1-1-1 model of integrated giving--where one per cent of the company's product, one per cent of our founding equity and one per cent of employee time is donated to improve communities around the world.
Through Salesforce.org, nonprofit and education organizations like Algonquin College, Kiwanis and Furniture Bank, receive donated and discounted technology to better advance their missions. Employees also receive seven paid days off each year to devote time to volunteer projects of their choice. From school partnerships to introducing kids to STEM-related activities, employees across Canada participated in a variety of projects, logging over 31,000 volunteer hours. Globally, we celebrated a significant milestone last year when we reached one million employee volunteer hours.
One of the reasons this model works so well is because it was developed and implemented at the very inception of the company and became part of our culture from day one. Today, other companies can take this same approach through Pledge 1%, a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to inspiring early-stage corporate philanthropy. Launched one year ago, more than 700 companies have already joined the movement, including Canadian companies like Candid, Switch Video and Funnelcake.
2. Corporate giving helps recruit and retain top talent.
Employees, especially millennials, want to work for a company that gives back. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers states that when looking for work, millennials look beyond the job and benefits to also consider the corporate citizenship of the larger organization. Fifty-nine per cent of millennials surveyed have or will deliberately seek out employers whose corporate responsibility reflects their values.
Another survey found that 35 per cent of students would take a 15 per cent pay cut to work for a company that is committed to CSR. With millennials posed to become 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020, now is the time to create an enticing and exciting work environment. From non-profit organizations like Surf For Life -- which sponsors high-impact, sustainable development projects in underserved coastal communities -- to Pencils of Promise -- which creates schools, programs and global communities to help children gain access to quality education -- there are endless amounts of fun and impactful volunteer opportunities to choose from.
3. Giving back improves employee engagement.
Employees today want more than just putting time in to collect a paycheque. They want to feel like they're a part of a team and are making a difference. When a company takes a stand and commits to corporate giving, employees feel a part of the solution and take pride working for a company they can believe in. A recent whitepaper from Mandrake revealed that corporate social responsibility is the third most important driver of employee engagement overall, and an organization's reputation for social responsibility is an important driver for both engagement and retention.
National Volunteer Week serves as a reminder of the importance of charitable giving. Giving back shouldn't end there. Creating a philanthropic culture year-round pays dividends when it comes to your employee engagement and overall business success.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Introduce your children to books that encourage compassion and generosity toward others. Try “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss for its message about the environment, “The Legend of Bluebonnet” by Tomie De Paola for its focus on sacrificing for others, and “Something Beautiful” by Sharon Wyeth, which is about seeing beauty in the unlikeliest places. Biographies about inspiring figures (“Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Doreen Rappaport) can also spark important conversations on how they can pitch in.
A great way to get your family invested in volunteering is to use it as a way to explore their interests and talents. Are they into sports? Volunteer to coach a youth league or help them start a collection of unused gear to donate to a school or organization in need. Are they crazy about animals? Pitch in at a pet shelter or with an animal welfare organization. To foster an even deeper sense of togetherness, participate in activities that explore your family’s heritage, whether it’s volunteering at a museum or reading stories at your local community center.
What sparks excitement in a teenager may provoke boredom or confusion in your grade-school child. Try to turn younger children on to volunteering by starting with simple visit to a food bank or clothing drive where they can sort items. Alternatively, you can help them start an ongoing collection (glasses, old cell phones, etc.) to donate. For older children, activities that connect to their interests and skills will help them develop their talents, stay out of trouble and serve others.
It’s too easy to lose out on the real spirit of the holidays when you’re caught in a whirlwhind of materialism. How about finding a way to make your holiday about slowing down and spending time with your family? There are plenty of food banks, hospitals, homeless shelters and retirement homes that welcome volunteers on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a great way to establish a ritual of volunteering with your kids that could well extend through the rest of the year.
Even if your family can’t devote a whole day to volunteering, incorporate giving as a routine. Make service both a long-term commitment and an everyday occurrence. And the benefits are long-lasting: According to Tanisha Smith, a national director of volunteer services for Volunteers of America: "Two-thirds of youths who volunteer become active adults who volunteer."
We admit that it’s a hard sell to get your kid to sacrifice the allure of the traditional birthday party, but Volunteer Guide has some great pointers for making volunteering -- and fun! -- the main attraction. Encourage guests to donate a small sum to a charity of your family’s choice in lieu of an extravagant gift. And instead of useless party favors, kids can leave knowing that they’ve made the world a little brighter, whether they’ve written a letter to a sick kid or planted a tree.
Volunteering is a great opportunity to model good values and have important conversations with your kids. Make it meaningful by asking them questions before, during and after: What do they hope to get out of this day of service? What did they learn? Go to DoingGoodTogether.org for more great discussion-starters.