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Giving Back Is An Important Part Of Building A Great Company

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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.

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