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Going beyond the volunteer bus - a new approach to corporate employee volunteering programmes...

A lot of what we're trying to do with forgood is change behavior on both sides of the social sector. What can be improved about volunteering? How can volunteers create more impact? How do we match volunteer skills to the right kind of projects (moving away from painting walls and planting gardens)? How can technology help Causes (charities) use volunteers and crowd-sourced resources to create more meaningful impact? How can technology create impact through scale in the social sector?

Part of this is re-thinking the approach to corporate volunteering. There's a lot of human capital that lies untapped inside corporates across South Africa.

Here's a little release around that.

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Going beyond the volunteer bus.

The heyday of bundling staff into a bus to paint an underprivileged school to fulfill Corporate Social Investment (CSI) targets is starting to fizzle out. Customers and investors want to see real impact – and employees are increasingly concerned with social purpose and business beyond the bottom line.

At present, this often means extra slog work for under-capacitated CSI teams. However, if companies embrace technology to make connections and do the tracking, a more unstructured and creative approach to volunteering can allow brands to foster deeper engagement from their staff. 

“Research says that effective volunteering programmes can be powerful tools for building employee loyalty and brand affiliation – a key part of employee engagement initiatives,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of online volunteering and CSI management tool www.forgood.co.za.

The CSI industry, says Hadfield, is often characterised by projects that are mostly aligned to what communities really need, but activities that do not always engage or excite employees. “In order for volunteer programmes to be effective, businesses need to tap into real sentiment and commitment from their staff.” 

Having facilitated connections between individuals and nonprofits for years, forgood now offers a customisable management tool for business. Corporates sign up for a branded employee volunteering platform populated with real-time requests from nonprofits. Employees browse for activities and make arrangements directly – but all actions can be tracked for use in CSI reporting.

The platform addresses the limited capacity of CSI teams, which to date has dampened the effectiveness of volunteering programmes in South Africa. “Forgood takes away the slog of sourcing and arranging opportunities for staff involvement, allowing management to focus on more meaningful and strategic work,” says Hadfield.

“Volunteer programmes should work in tandem with staff satisfaction and development programmes - they have been shown to improve collaboration, innovation and soft skill development,” says Hadfield, who helped develop Deloitte’s groundbreaking staff engagement system back in 2008 before taking his skills to the social sector with forgood. 

“South Africans and millennials in general are eager to get involved in social projects, but they want a more personalised experience. With a tool like forgood, businesses are able to offer volunteer opportunities to suit all tastes and types, highlight existing corporate CSI initiatives – and track it all,” says Hadfield.

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