Going beyond philanthropy

Volunteering, 2007-08 No.1

Time is money. Sometimes, time and talent are worth more than money. Especially when it’s corporate time and talent offered to community organizations that need additional human resources.

In this era of corporate responsibility, the new buzzwords “social equity investment” means just that: to invest business talent for social development.

Business philanthropy is going beyond material handouts. Leaders of the Philippine Business for Social Progress agree that donating business skills, not financial resources, is the more important contribution companies can make. And corporate volunteers come loaded with that.

Why bother? Corporate leadership should consider volunteerism as a tool to fulfill social responsibility or achieve organizational goals. Its employees may well see it as a means to actualize personal values and pursue interests. As well, it builds employee morale and job satisfaction.

Cielito Presas, Human Resource Manager of ICT Marketing Services, Inc., recalls a company employee who wanted to quit her job. “She wanted to resign sometime ago. I’ve met employees like her who do not find working in the corporate world meaningful anymore. I told her, ‘Hinde, mag-volunteer ka! Sumama ka sa akin sa Exchange Arena.’ She signed up for two VOpps (volunteer opportunities), came up to me happily and said she would not resign anymore!”

The Exchange Arena project in 2006 was like a marketplace where corporate volunteers searched for VOpps “sold” by NGOs, cooperatives, foundations, churches and public schools.

The project tagline was Just 1%. Just one percent of the company’s annual employee time. One percent of an employee’s time in a year is three days. The message: that’s all it takes for corporate volunteerism to make a difference. To be part of the solution for poverty alleviation, education, health and environment concerns.

Through their own initiatives, 11 organizations have taken the ball and run with it, pushing the Exchange Arena’s concept in their own corporate networks.“With so much value added in this project, what company or organization would say ‘No’?” asked Sylvan Monzon, director of Ortigas Foundation.

Indeed, by the end of that year, 13 companies had committed 1,200 employee-volunteering days and 40 recipient organizations submitted 148 VOpps.

Nurturing employees to become “good corporate citizens” is a long-term investment Philippine Seven Corporation is making. The corporate mission’s champion: Chairman Vicente Paterno, who advocates the relevance of employee volunteerism. Recently, the company launched its employee volunteer circle with full support from the administration.

“We would like our employees to continuously engage in community work by giving them various VOpps to choose from,” said Ronnie Turla, Personnel Administration Section manager. The employees have started volunteering for Caritas Manila’s projects. “Our 7-Eleven stores operate in 289 communities. We want to give back to these communities, to walk the extra mile as their friendly neighborhood stores.”

Similarly, The CenTRe8, headed by Alexey Cajilig, volunteered for more projects than their commitment required. “We saw how relevant our skills are, how much more we can give, and the effects of our contribution to these organizations and its advocacies,” he said, after volunteering for Unang Hakbang Foundation, Kilus Pag-asa Cooperative and the government’s Council for the Welfare of Children.

The year-long Exchange Arena project in 2006 advocated to more than 2,000 NCR-based companies, government institutions, and civil society groups that employee volunteering and volunteer management can be organized to make the positive difference for development in this country. May this initial thrust bear abundant fruit!

Exchange Arena is an adaptation of Netherlands’ Marketplace, an innovative concept in fundraising and partnership-building developed 10 years ago by the National Volunteer Center of the Netherlands.

Copyright 2007-2008

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