Annette Sutfin

Research Friday: Corporate Volunteer Programs: Synergy in Business and Nonprofit Actions


posted by
Annette Sutfin,
Kinship Program 
Manager, Southwest
Human Development

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit scholar or practitioner to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Many volunteer managers cite recruitment as their greatest challenge; however, Brudney and Meijs (2009) contend that “the preoccupation with recruitment distracts attention and resources from the management and retention of volunteers” (p. 568). If their argument holds, of increasing importance is the need for volunteer managers to identify and cultivate volunteer sources that have potential for growth and replenishment. One such source, which is intensely under-cultivated, lies in the for-profit sector: the corporate volunteer.

Orchestrated effectively, a corporate volunteer program has the potential to render benefits not only to the nonprofit, but to the corporation as well. The hours of unpaid labor afforded by such programs is the obvious contribution to the nonprofit organization. Often overlooked, however, are the many benefits that can be provided to the corporation. A Walker research survey confirmed that a company’s perceived community involvement affects consumers’ spending habits, concluding that “47 percent of the consumers surveyed would be more likely to buy from a ‘good’ company, if quality, price and service were equal… 70 percent would not buy from a company that was not socially responsible” (McAlister and Ferrell, 2002, p. 696). A Cone/Roper report supports the Walker conclusions, noting that two-thirds of Americans claim to be more likely to support a company that aligns with a social issue (Phillips Business Information Inc., 2000, p. 1).