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Employer supported volunteering: delivering on the potential

Maximising and delivering on the potential of employer sponsored volunteering is the focus of a high-profile policy breakfast in London.

The event, which takes place in the Churchill Rooms in Westminster on Wednesday 27 January, will showcase the research of Dr Jon Burchell, senior lecturer at Sheffield University Management School, and Dr Joe Cook, an academic at Hull University Business School

Building on eight years of research on the subject, delegates will consider the future of employer sponsored volunteering in the UK. Dr Cook, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this high-profile discussion and hope to focus on establishing a strategy that is both fit-for-purpose and achievable.

“Almost 50% of the population in the UK do some kind of volunteer work and that is to be commended. We want to ensure that both businesses and charities are equipped to engage with volunteers in the best way possible.”

The government is keen to build on Britain’s volunteering culture – it pledged during the election that employees of large firms and public sector employees will be entitled to three volunteering days a year.

“But this pledge places significant difficulties for businesses,” said Dr Burchell. “Current successful company volunteering strategies offer on average one day per year per employee, from which less than one-third of employees take up the opportunity. Achieving a rapid increase in volunteers and volunteer hours just through offering paid time for example, may prove to be overly ambitious.”

The event, which launches a series of regional workshops across England to examine the infrastructural challenges, brings together a panel of experts to discuss the infrastructural implications of the policy and consider how best to maximise the impact of employee volunteering in the UK. Organised by Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank, Demos, in partnership with the universities of Sheffield and Hull, the Office for Civil Society, Business in the Community (BiTC), and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the discussion will explore the challenges of overcoming the key barriers to building effective and sustainable partnerships.

Other speakers include: Graham Frankland, National Grid, Dr Justin Davis-Smith, NCVO, Lisa Cunningham (BiTC), and Neil Cleeveley, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. The event is chaired by Peter Cheese, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Key questions for discussion include:

  • How can we ensure that the impact of employee volunteering is maximised?
  • How can more third sector organisations be equipped for employee volunteering, and present opportunities for volunteering effectively to businesses?
  • How can local infrastructure support connections between business and community groups to facilitate better employee volunteering?
  • How can we encourage greater employee volunteering amongst small businesses in particular?

The event will lay the groundwork for a series of workshops across England which will examine the local challenges for Employer Sponsored Volunteering and the potential for stronger brokerage and infrastructural support.

The universities of Sheffield and Hull will organise these workshops in partnership with the Office for Civil Society and the Local Intelligence Teams in partnership with Business in the Community and NCVO.

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