Volunteering goes virtual

30/04/2008 - 22:00

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Progressive CEOs and a more receptive workforce are helping shape a new phenomenon within Western Australian business, according to the state’s peak body for volunteering.

Volunteering goes virtual

Progressive CEOs and a more receptive workforce are helping shape a new phenomenon within Western Australian business, according to the state’s peak body for volunteering.

 

Volunteering WA CEO Mara Basanovic said companies were increasingly recognising the importance of accounting for the triple bottom line, in particular where corporate social responsibility was concerned.

 

She said even time-poor companies were becoming active by joining the tens of thousand of volunteers nation-wide, whose contribution to the economy is valued at $40 billion annually.

 

With National Volunteer Week from May 12 to 18, Ms Basanovic said all WA businesses had an opportunity to initiate their volunteering campaigns.

 

“Organistions who are keen to meet their CRS obligations and profile their activities in their annual reports are becoming more focused on identifying meaningful opportunities for their staff to get involved in supporting volunteer-requiring efforts and creating opportunities that engage their staff,” Ms Basanovic told WA Business News.

 

“Companies seeking to become involved with volunteering are becoming creative about their efforts, with HR and IR departments typically driving the activities, and some organisations who are led by passionate CEOs.”

 

An added dimension to this emerging trend is virtual volunteering, a concept National Australia Bank introduced in December 2007.

 

Virtual volunteering means volunteer tasks are completed via the internet and a home or work computer. Companies usually give staff set hours each week to give not-for-profit organisations advice with aspects of their operations, such as marketing, account management or strategic planning, all online.

 

“Some companies donate money to various causes, some try to enhance and strengthen the local community they build in, and others say, ‘well we’ve got all this expertise and we’re willing to give something back amongst our employees, why not to the community’,” Ms Basanovic said.

 

Electrical retailer The Good Guys recently had staff from its outlets in Western Australia join the school volunteers program, where staff volunteered for two hours a week over an eight-week period.

 

“They were out reading to children, encouraging children; you know, the child who thinks they’re overweight, the child who thinks they’re ugly, the child who can’t kick a ball, the child who can’t tie a shoelace,” Ms Basanovic said.

 

Freehills law firm is another business to get involved, last year assisting disabled children partici-pating in the City to Surf fun run.

 

Ms Basanovic said other ways companies could offer their services was by having an employee on the board of a not-for-profit organisation.

 

“This is a valuable way to learn for the business community to give something back while gaining hands-on experience of board membership,” she said.

 

With an estimated 15,500 incorporated associations in WA and more than 100,000 people voluntarily sitting on their boards, Ms Basanovic said corporate volunteering was an important aspect to Volunteering WA.

 

“What’s important though is that organisations have a plan. It all has to be well-thought out, well-structured and then it will be meaningful to both.”

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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