Encouraging employees to volunteer could unlock £17bn for charities, report suggests

26 Oct 2022 News

Enabling employees to volunteer for an average of one hour a week could generate £17.3bn per annum for charities and community groups, according to research by Pilotlight.

Its report, Give your culture a workout, found that if UK employers had a strong “workout culture” – whereby staff are actively encouraged and supported to use their time and skills to support charities – businesses' charitable giving could increase six-fold, from the current £2.7bn.  

The findings are based on two separate surveys of a combined 4,158 members of the public as well as interviews and case studies carried out over the past two years. 

The benefits of volunteering

The report estimates that at least 8,300 charities and social enterprises benefit from wider pro bono support every year. 

Some six million people (21% of the workforce) currently use their professional skills to support charitable causes, and a further 50% want to do so. 

Three-quarters of employees think that employers should support their staff to take time out to volunteer. 

Nearly eight in 10 said that businesses would benefit from employee volunteering, while 82% reported that volunteering helped them develop work skills and knowledge. 

The report read: “There is good evidence that working out can bring benefits in terms of staff wellbeing, accelerating a sense of meaning and purpose at work. Providing opportunities to work out also improves staff retention, with a positive correlation between those who say that their company has a strong culture and those employees who stay at the company.”

The report also found that 66% of people believe that the role of charities and community groups is “critical” in helping vulnerable people amid the cost-of-living crisis. 

‘Charities can help businesses’

Pilotlight is calling on more employers to develop a workout culture in order to attract and retain the “country’s best talent and do good at the same time”. 
Ed Mayo, chief executive of the charity, said: “Work is changing. Now, the new patterns of work that people want are more porous, with learning, participation and purpose that goes beyond the predictable. In this context, there is a new dynamic emerging of ‘pro bono’ volunteering, in which people can use their skills in a charitable setting. In the post-pandemic context, this is good for business.
“We believe more and more employees are looking for a ‘workout culture’, one that actively supports them to get involved in causes and their community. From our experience we know this is a really powerful way to attract and retain the best employees.”
Sally Bailey, chair of trustees, added: “In our post-pandemic context, what is new is not the fact that business can help charities. It’s the recognition that charities can help business. Skills-based volunteering is good for both. Our research suggests that the practice is growing fast and has the potential one day to overtake charitable donations from business.” 

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