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The Year-Round Benefits of Skills-Based Volunteering

By Common Impact | December 20, 2022

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Corporate Social Responsibility strategies (CSR) often exist in silos. Yet, they have common benefits, such as increasing employee engagement and workplace satisfaction and building brand loyalty with their customers.  

Creating a cohesive company culture goes beyond DEI plans and CSR strategy decks. More than ever, Employees want workplaces where individuals of diverse backgrounds and ethnic origins can co-exist. They want to feel proud of their employer’s contribution to leading causes such as sustainability, climate justice, and food insecurity.  

In today’s workplace, actions speak louder than words. By getting employees activated and engaged in causes they care about with people from different walks of life, they experience firsthand CSR and DEI practices. This earns trust and buy-in.  

Thanks to the proliferation of social media and greater awareness of social causes among millennials and Gen Z, consumers tend to spend with companies with robust philanthropic activities and good operational standing.  

Building trust with employees and communities is no small feat. It requires deliberate planning, research integration, and analysis. Thankfully there are tools and strategies leading companies have integrated that you can borrow from.  

The research is clear – skills-based volunteering programs increase employee engagement and bring your company closer to niche and local community causes. Cross-sector partnerships have a unique opportunity to break down barriers and help connect communities from all walks of life to engage in a shared purpose. Skills-based volunteering represents one of the fastest-growing corporate volunteering strategies because it effectively leveraged corporate professionals’ unique skills to contribute to community vitality and resilience. Below we discuss the benefits your company can expect.

Boost your DEI results 

Skills-based volunteering strengthens your organization by enriching your talent development, increasing your company’s cultural competencies, and fulfilling your employee’s needs for mission-driven work. Ensuring your skills-based volunteer group is diverse and inclusive should be a priority as you begin recruiting volunteer members. Diverse individuals provide a broad perspective of opinions, lived experiences, identities, and philosophies. These perspective matter, especially when partnering with BIPOC and grassroots organizations whose mission is often to advance equity in communities of color and underserved populations.  

Empowering your diverse volunteers to take the lead and ownership of the process will provide an authentic connection to your DEI strategy and instill a sense of company commitment to the professional development of historically marginalized employees. 

Build skills that lead to career advancements 

Participating employees realize significant personal and professional gains as they are challenged to apply their skills in new and often more challenging contexts. Planning, organizing, and leading social sector capacity-building projects is a powerful way for employees who don’t lead or manage teams in their current roles to deliver meaningful results they feel empowered by.  

Strengthens cross-sector allyship 

Many donors and philanthropists overlook nonprofits led by women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and other historically underrepresented populations, further exacerbating institutional inequity. Intentionally partnering with these organizations strengthen their capacity to expand their impact sustainably and strategically by bringing skills, knowledge, and experience they may not have access to (i.e., technology, finance, strategic planning, legal, and marketing).  

These partnerships deliver the most community-enriching results because of the inherent proximity to the cause and people affected by institutional and social barriers. In addition, by creating two-way synergetic community partnerships, customers and shareholders witness your company’s mission.  

Promote cross-community cross-sector networks and trust (CSR) 

Facilitating employee interactions with people they don’t typically interact with disrupts biases and breaks down barriers as project participants work towards a shared goal. Strengthening relationships inside and outside helps employees feel connected to their community, coworkers, and the company’s mission. After a skilled volunteering event, employees come back renewed with new perspectives, experience, and networks that can benefit the business and yield favorable publicity and community connections.  

We are only getting started 

There is enormous potential for skills-based volunteering to be a game-changing approach to addressing social challenges while strengthening your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion worldwide. More business leaders are realizing the value and effectiveness of engaging SVB programming compared to traditional one-way philanthropy. By bringing together the best resources, talents, and expertise from across sectors, SBV leads to transformative opportunities for new types of knowledge, relationships, and creative problem-solving to proliferate where it matters the most: in the community.