Volunteering is on the rise. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteerism is at a 30-year high. Corporations continue to increase their giving and further diversify and develop their employee volunteer programs (source). National campaigns such as A Billion + Change create business value through strategic alignment of philanthropy and business goals by mobilizing billions of dollars of skills-based volunteer services to build the capacity of nonprofits to meet community needs.

Volunteering and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are on the European agenda as well. With the announcement of 2011 as The European Year of Volunteering, developing the ISO 26000:2010 Standard on Guidance on Social Responsibility and the publishing of a renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility, among many other initiatives, the European Union took a leap in supporting volunteering at the highest level.

Although trends vary from country to country, corporate civic engagement is growing everywhere. Corporate engagement continues to boom in countries with strong traditions of civic innovation, such as United Kingdom, and even in countries such as Poland, where only 2 percent of companies ran an employee volunteering program in 2008.

Additionally, companies from emerging European markets, where civic consciousness is only awakening, are beginning to realize that corporate civic engagement and corporate social responsibility go beyond being expensive, sporadic PR campaigns and philanthropy. Companies incorporate responsible business principles into core business activities. Corporate volunteering, for example, is becoming an integral part of companies’ strategy and culture and has proved to tackle important organizational and community-related issues.

Kyivstar, a Ukranian telecommunications company and the winner of the National Corporate Volunteering Contest in the Innovation category, is a great example. It is one of the first companies in the country to integrate corporate social responsibility into its business strategy and implement innovative practices and approaches in employee motivation, such as paid release time, impact communication, employee recognition or scalable employee volunteer projects.

Why is this happening? I would speculate that it is globalization that is pushing a new normal in corporate citizenship, as well as empirical evidence of the benefits it generates for the company, its employees and communities.

Companies in America hold a great opportunity in their hands, the power to be leaders in corporate volunteerism for the world around us. In the years ahead, it’s not just the nice thing to do, but the necessary thing to do for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.

To learn more about excellent Employee Volunteer Programs, download our latest Trends of Excellence report for more information about excellence in employee volunteering.

This post was first published on www.pointsoflightblog.org on January 13, 2012

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