Call to firms: Make giving part of DNA

More support from bosses needed to grow staff volunteerism: Minister

ONE in two employees polled is interested in taking part in company-organised volunteer activities, but only one in five said his employer held such activities in the past year.

“There is clearly a mismatch,” said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong yesterday, at a dialogue on corporate giving. He said employers’ support is key in encouraging working adults to volunteer and he called on companies to “make giving part of the DNA of corporate Singapore”.

The 2014 Employee Giving Survey, which is part of the biennial Individual Giving Survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), also found that only one in three employees volunteers through his employer.

The survey of 968 employees found the top three factors that would spur them to volunteer are: having supportive colleagues and bosses, paid volunteer leave, and a choice of volunteer activities.

All three helped Ms Lee Woei Shiuan, executive director of governance at Standard Chartered, to volunteer through the bank for 13 years. She helps to organise activities such as outings with the elderly. “Among my colleagues, I know many want to give back to the community... Such activities give them a platform to volunteer, and doing it with colleagues also builds team bonding,” said the mother of two young children.

Deloitte Singapore has an event at which staff – from the chairman to interns – volunteer so they can connect with one another, said Ms Seah Gek Choo, a talent partner at the audit firm.

In an earlier survey done in 2012, more people were interested in staff volunteerism (66 per cent) and more said their companies organised such activities (27 per cent), but a smaller proportion actually volunteered through their employers (25 per cent).

Mr Kevin Lee, director of knowledge at NVPC, said the rise in volunteerism was a good sign, and he did not see the drop in interest as a worrying trend.

Meanwhile, Mr Wong suggested that more companies engage in skills-based volunteerism. Staff from accounting firm KPMG, for instance, offer pro bono audit work for charities. Mr Tham Sai Choy, chairman of KPMG’s Asia-Pacific region, said: “Skills-based volunteering provides fulfilment for our staff, who see their skills being used in a different way.”

Yesterday, NVPC signed an agreement with Points of Light, an international non-profit organisation, to develop a national framework to guide corporate giving efforts. The Singapore Roadmap for Corporate Giving will, among other things, help companies better measure the impact of corporate social responsibility programmes.