Building community investment into business strategy

Develop a logical process with creativity to make a real impact.

Jessica Pattison of LBG advises that employee volunteering remains a real opportunity for mutual value


“I recently received a call from one of our members asking for advice about establishing an employee volunteering program.

I often find it interesting to hear about the perceived barriers to implementing a corporate volunteering program. In some cases senior management are concerned that offering a day of leave to every staff member will lead to an overwhelming barrage of leave applications. However in actual fact, as most companies with an existing corporate volunteering program will report, it is often the exact opposite in the beginning.

In 2013, the LBG benchmark reported over 47,000 employees volunteered during company time, an impressive figure which increased on the previous year. However, although this represents the growing interest in volunteering by staff, the average participation rate by employees equates to just 8%.

While an obvious challenge in the early stages of a program can relate to staff engagement, one of the key hurdles in increasing participation by companies is the impact on community partners to host large numbers of volunteers in a useful and effective way.” Read it here


Dr Louise Lee reports on a global study which was completed on trends in corporate volunteering with the support of IAVE International Association for Volunteer Effort.


“I think this publication has much that could be of use to BACS business and community members – it’s comprehensive, contains material applicable to the NZ context and is user friendly, providing reflective opportunities for readers with things like ‘think about it” and “move to action” boxes. I also really like the way it provides a critical focus that addresses some of the key challenges with corporate volunteering.’

The key publication of the research is a book “The Big Tent” ( 273 pages). The book is divided into 6 sections:

1. Laying the foundation

2. Stating the case

3. Preparing to act

4. Implementing for impact

5. Measurement and Evaluation

6. Reflecting and Projecting

Free download here PDF

Dr. Louise Lee Senior lecturer of Massey University, School of Business


Why every company needs a CSR strategy and how to build it 

by Kash Rangan, Lisa A. Chase and Sohel Karim of The Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.


Executive Summary: Despite certain criticisms, more and more companies in the world practice some form of corporate social responsibility. This paper offers a pragmatic alternative framework for CSR with a view towards developing its practice in an evolutionary way.

The authors’ extensive experience working with CSR practitioners convinces them that exhorting companies to hone their CSR practice under a shared value framework does not reflect the reality for a majority of businesses.

CSR executives oversee a variety of social initiatives that may or may not directly contribute to a company’s business goals.

The role of an executive is to achieve the difficult task of reconciling the various programs, quantifying their benefits, or at least sketching a logical connection to the business, and securing the support of his or her business line counterparts. This role, when performed well, would lead to the development of a CSR strategy for the company. Key concepts include:

  • Ideally, well-managed CSR creates social and environmental value, while supporting a company’s business objectives and reducing operating costs, and enhancing relationships with key stakeholders and customers.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all CSR model. Individual companies typically engage in a variety of programs motivated by a wide range of perspectives and corporate protagonists.
  • In current practice, the management of philanthropic initiatives happens in what the authors label as Theatre 1; supply chain and cause marketing initiatives happen in Theatre 2; and transformative ecosystem initiatives occur in Theatre 3. These different initiatives are typically managed at different management levels, and some are staff functions and others line functions, resulting in a messy state of affairs. Gaining a unified vision is a central challenge of coordinating CSR efforts in all three theatres.
  • In addition to empowering CSR executives to practice strategic initiatives, strong leadership and support for CSR initiatives at the top levels of executive management is critical.
  • The strategic role of a Corporate Responsibility Officer needs to be established as an independent full-time position having access to the CEO and having input to the development of the company’s business strategy. Read it here 


Oliver Balch writes in the Guardian Professional UK an outline for businesses to develop their strategy for community investment.


“Aviva’s support for street children does not yield direct commercial returns but it has reinforced the company’s people-focused approach and demonstrated corporate leadership”

Challenging the old idea that handing out cheques as the only solution he discusses what corporate community investment is and what the return for the company means.

Coca Cola and Diageo he explains has built a highly strategic business case and the use of Accenture staff  secondments to community has a double win. However how does a company tackle the really hard issues and why should they? Times are tough but creativity is king.

“Street children present a case in point. Companies are naturally wary about weighing in on the issue, says Bo Victor Nylund, senior advisor for corporate social responsibility at children’s charity UNICEF.

First, there’s the issue of social stigma. Street children are often associated with criminality, he notes. Secondly, there’s the political sensitivity around the link between street children and child labour. “In general, they [street children] are looked down on by everyone and anyone”, he says.

Without obvious direct returns companies like Aviva are doing things differently with tangible results.  In the UK last year, 26,309 children reaped the benefit of that leadership role.  Read it here