But I had the opportunity to speak yesterday at an awards luncheon sponsored by the Metro Atlanta Corporate Volunteer Council, which encourages companies to make it easy for their workers to do volunteer work. To prepare for the speech, I did some research and thinking about corporate volunteering, and then I learned more at the event, which drew a crowd of more than 500 people from Atlanta’s best companies. (The top award, FYI, went to a law firm called Kilpatrick Stockton.)Iâ€™ve come away thinking that every company ought to have a program to help its people to volunteerâ€”not just because itâ€™s a nice thing to do, but because it makes business sense.
Itâ€™s amazing, once you dig a little, to see how much company-sponsored volunteering is going on, not just in Atlanta, where companies are famously civic-minded, but all around the country. IBM and Pfizer run great volunteer programs, focused on education and global health. In Atlanta, Home Depot will help connect more than 40,000 volunteers and 1,000 nonprofits during its current â€œcorporate month of service.â€ Small companies like Georgia Natural Gas are active, too; more than two-thirds of its 65 employees regularly volunteer on company time. This is not a bad way to set your company apart, especially if you are selling a commodity like natural gas.
The business case for corporate-sponsored volunteering is straightforward. The opportunity to volunteer is an appealing benefit to employees. These efforts burnish a company’s reputation in the eyes of customers. And they help over time to build strong communities, without which business cannot thrive.