Why Corporate Volunteer Program Is Strategic And Important?
Since 1990s, natural disasters have become more frequent, intense and larger. A decade ago, the international response system assisted 30–40 million people annually; by 2013 this had risen to 50–70 million. In March 2015, the international community’s appeals to address humanitarian crises globally reached USD18.7 billion to assist 74.7 million people. This growth in funding, however, is surpassed by the growth in financing needs across the humanitarian actors; as the gap widens, so does the challenges.
For many years, the business community has been an active and important contributor to humanitarian relief, primarily through its philanthropic activities. In most cases, the engagement is in short-term disaster relief, in the form of philanthropy, under the broader umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This generally involves donating funds or distributing goods and services through local civil society or humanitarian organizations or international NGOs.
A study conducted by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) UK in February 20143, found that one overarching barrier to engagement is the lack of a clear business case for the private sector to involve itself in crisis matters, in a way that goes beyond philanthropy. Other barriers relate to a lack of understanding and trust due to the lack of practical guidance or experience, by humanitarian organizations to help private sector to engage more easily and systematically with disaster response , and/or any facilitative processes that support them participate effectively and/or play useful roles in disaster mitigation/ response.
Therefore it is critically important to establish a more explicit link between the private sector’s core business and resilience to disaster risks, and where these interests and needs interface with humanitarian action, encompassing prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The terms of engagement between private sector and humanitarian organization should be made in a clear understanding of each other’s added value which ultimately build a long term nature of relationships.
The Experiences of PMI Corporate Volunteer Program
The Corporate Volunteer Project introduced an innovative approach or model to Organizational Development especially in providing sustainable resource development mechanism as well as volunteer management at PMI. The Project has provided a mechanism or platform for corporate employees who want to be PMI volunteers and for the corporates to be part of and contribute to broader social and humanitarian efforts. It established a foundation for PMI to recruit volunteers, from a professional level, from corporates and establish a more prominent partnership with the corporate sector including to access program collaboration and funding opportunities.
PMI staff (at different levels), who were involved in the project management and implementation and have engaged with corporate communities, have reported greater confidence, improved communication skills, and changes in their personal and professional attitudes and performance. The companies and volunteers mentioned that they have better understanding about PMI and their missions and capacities and most importantly, with they are likely to be more effective in delivering services to community as well as building the PMI personnel capacity and skills.
Lessons Learned From The Pilot Project
In order to succeed, this project needs strong cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration within PMI, particularly between volunteers division, resource mobilization, training units as well as services unit.
This initiative requires additional orientation by PMI staff and accompanying organizational capacity to enable PMI to engage with the corporate sector more consistently and proactively as partners.
Companies with senior management, who engaged in the program, demonstrated greater support and ownership with the program and encouraging of their staffs’ participation.
A combination of sound advocacy strategies, high quality marketing and promotional materials, and personnel with strong communication and interpersonal skills will attract companies/ employees.
Recruitment and training volunteers is not easy, however retaining them is a lot more difficult. Therefore, it requires competent staff and operational volunteer management system to optimize volunteer’s contribution.