Our Employee Volunteering Development Manager, Dr Angela Schlenkhoff‑Hus recently contributed a chapter on corporate volunteering around the globe to an international volume from Springer Publications. In this blog she draws out key findings, and food for thought, from her research and literature review. 

Corporate volunteering has become increasingly widespread across the globe. While in some regions it has long been the norm, other areas are just being introduced to it, often through the growth of international corporations that bring their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes with them. Whilst comparative statistics to quantify corporate volunteering around the globe are hard to come by, a lot can be learned from comparing strategies, trends and challenges from different regions.

  • Millennials are helping to spread the word. The tendency of young employees to look for employers with a similar outlook to themselves when it comes to giving back to their local communities is being reported across the globe. The Deloitte Millennial Research Survey 2017 supports this: 76% of millennials surveyed around the globe regard business as “a force for positive social impact” (Deloitte 2017: 5). They feel they can have the biggest impact through the corporate responsibility programmes of their employer and can exert the greatest influence, which, in turn, boosts their engagement and motivation in the workplace.
  • Corporate Volunteering may be new to some areas, but it doesn’t stop them embracing it. In many regions (such as Africa and Latin America) the concept of corporate volunteering did not exist before the arrival of multinational companies that brought their own corporate responsibility programmes. In Africa corporate volunteering is still very much tied up, and together, with these companies, however many Latin American countries have adapted the concept and made it their own. One of the publications I surveyed found that there it’s about “’transformation’ rather than ‘help’. Exercising the right of participation rather than ‘doing good’. Latin America is engaging in real change through volunteering” (Allen et al 2011: 26).
  • The urban bias is prevalent around the globe. By their very nature businesses with corporate responsibility agendas and programmes tend to be located in urban centres. These areas therefore receive  most of the support, be it through volunteering or other, that comes though having businesses settled in an area.  But new approaches are attempting this bias – for instance improving digital options. I myself am currently a digital mentor for a refugee based in Germany, trying to help her settle while also improving her communications and technical skills, and all from my base in London.
  • The USA is still at the forefront. Just. Corporate volunteering is an integral part of what North American businesses do and sophisticated infrastructures are in place supporting corporate volunteering programmes. The significance of corporate responsibility and corporate volunteering was reaffirmed during the last financial crisis when (data showed that), while many companies lost revenue, they maintained their levels of engagement in this area. However, my research highlighted that some business leaders in the region felt development was stagnating and questioned whether it could still claim its position at the forefront of corporate volunteering. Nevertheless, it has undoubtedly created many of the most innovative approaches that have inspired businesses in other regions to try to match its successes.
  • The UK is the US of Europe. So to speak. As the country with the longest and strongest track record of corporate volunteering in Europe we are now able to demonstrate a colourful mosaic of different types of volunteering approaches, successful cross-sector partnerships and no lack of willingness and ambition to do and achieve more. As the market leaders of corporate volunteering in Europe and to a certain extent around the globe, businesses here are now asking ‘what next?’ Many are already considering the  new approaches they should develop to ensure their programmes continue to positively impact those most in need. Fortunately they find an active infrastructure in the UK: many charities increasingly have experience in working in partnership with companies, there is a wide network of employee volunteering brokers available and a greater awareness of needs and how companies can potentially help address them. The biggest driver of change, other than the obvious financial resources, will be more open communication channels between companies and communities to enable all sides to understand the others’ position and come to more informed joint decisions.

This blog post was taken from and inspired by Dr Schlenkhoff‑Hus’ research and literature review for Springer Publications’ recent volume on CSR and Corporate Volunteering. The full publication can be purchased on from their website.


Allen K, Galiano M, Hayes S (2011) Global companies volunteering globally – Final Report of the Global Corporate Volunteering Research Project. The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE). http://www.handsonnetwork.org/files/global_companies_volunteering_globally.pdf. Accessed: 15 December 2015

Deloitte (2017) The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017. Apprehensive millennials: seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-deloitte-millennial-survey-2017-executive-summary.pdf. Accessed: 26 May 2017