If you could do one thing to improve your corporate volunteering program this year, what would it be? Make it more scalable? Make it more meaningful? Make it more measurable? Can I point out something (potentially) obvious? Scalable programs are by default more measurable. Meaningful programs, when they’re built right, are automatically more scalable. Measurable programs are more of both – and if they’re not, you’re not measuring the right things.
Most corporate volunteer programs fail to grow beyond the reach of the CSR manager because the CSR manager holds on to it with a vice grip. They’re strapped for time (and energy) and they’re afraid of what will happen if they start trusting volunteer leaders to lead. Without meaning to, they end up with a program that is built on a model Jim Collins refers to as a “Genius with a Thousand Helpers”. These are the programs where a CSR manager sees themselves as the only person capable of doing the job right. They get everyone to “help” them rather than empowering each person with sharable knowledge and actionable understanding. We don’t have time for singular geniuses in this field. We need CSR managers to empower volunteer leaders to show up at their highest level of contribution in order to scale programs and achieve greater impacts.
While each company’s volunteer program has (or should have) specific impact targets that it aims to achieve, the society-wide, shared mission of all our programs is to break down barriers between people through the Transformative Approach to employee volunteering. Volunteering itself is not the point. Volunteering that takes people into contexts where they are invited to challenge their assumptions, guided through the experience that accompanies this challenge, and invited into critical reflection following the experience is a means to an end. The end we’re going for? Perspective transformation. Mindset shift. This is the work all of us are doing together.