Despite Shaky Support and Murky ROI Impact, Employee Volunteerism Programs Can Deliver in Big Ways

New i4cp study and report reveal how employee volunteerism increases recruitment, retention and engagement

SEATTLE, WA (October 16, 2009) - While virtually everyone agrees it's the right thing to do, most companies don't have a clue about how, or if, corporate volunteerism boosts business, according to a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

The study found that most companies (65% overall) don't have formal programs to support employee volunteerism program (EVP) initiatives. Larger companies (those with 10,000 employees or more) are more likely to have a formal program - 65% said they have an EVP - and 42% of higher market performers said they have such programs.

But even organizations that have EVPs often fail to allocate adequate resources to support them. A full 67% of survey respondents reported that they do not have a volunteer coordinator on staff. Fifty-five percent of large companies said they have coordinators, compared to 22% of organizations with 1,000 or fewer workers. Moreover, most (59%) polled companies overall don't track EVP activity. And of those that do, 23% report they do so "occasionally," and 17.7% do so consistently.

"We hear often from executives that they are 100% behind their employees participating in some form of community involvement through volunteerism, but what we have learned is that companies aren't doing a good job of articulating the business case for employee volunteerism. Storytelling about employees' volunteer efforts feels great, but it needs to be backed up with substantive evidence that these activities impact the bottom line, and we believe that they do," said Lorrie Lykins, i4cp's managing editor and lead author of the report.

Scarcity of resources and mediocre metrics aside, however, employee volunteer programs still play a key role in the corporate realm in a number of areas, such as recruitment, retention, job satisfaction and engagement.

Among the organizations that track EVP information, the majority (61.7%) said they do so in order to measure employee engagement. Other reasons cited for tracking EVP activity were public relations (42.2%), branding (38.3%), recruiting (30.6%) and tying to matching gifts/contributions (27.7%).

To support employee volunteerism efforts, 39% of respondents said they use employee rewards or recognition for participation (that figure jumps to 54% among higher-performing firms), and almost a third (30%) offer paid time off to volunteers. Volunteer matching grants are offered by 26% of organizations.

The Impact of Corporate Volunteerism Study was commissioned by TelecomPioneers and conducted by i4cp in 2009. A webinar highlighting the results of the study will be conducted by i4cp in December; the report and Interactive Data are now available to members through the i4cp website.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest vendor-free network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members - among the largest and most respected organizations in the world - access to:

  1. Peers to spark new ideas and prevent "reinventing the wheel,"
  2. Research to enable members to understand current practices and next practices,
  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
  4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.