You are on page 1of 40

Brokering Sustainable Partnerships Between Employers and Communities

Information on skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage for local volunteering infrastructure organisations

What is Volunteering England?
Volunteering England is an independent charity and membership organisation, committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. Our work links policy, research, innovation, good practice and programme management in the involvement of volunteers. We have a diverse membership drawn from the public, private and voluntary and community sectors. These include national charities, further and higher education, NHS Trusts, arts and sports organisations, Volunteer Centres and local community projects. On behalf of our members and the wider volunteering movement, we work with local and central Government, national agencies and infrastructure partnerships. Volunteering England is at the centre, bringing ideas and people together, developing better networks and structures, and initiating projects to support volunteering in a wide range of fields, such as health and social care, sport and employer-supported volunteering.

Copyright information
© 2010 Volunteering England
This guide has been produced by Volunteering England as a free resource for volunteering infrastructure organisations. Users may share this material – by distributing copies of the electronic edition, or reproducing extracts in print or other media – provided they make no changes to the content, and distribute it at no charge. We ask users to ensure that they attribute this document to Volunteering England when sharing it. Although all possible care has been taken, and the publishers believe the contents to be accurate and correct, no guarantee can be given. October 2010

2 88

Introduction Section 1:
About Employer Supported Volunteering

4 7 11 15

Section 2:
Employer Supported Volunteering landscape and trends

Section 3:
Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering – the business case

Section 4:
About Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage

19 22 25 31 37

Section 5:
Top tips for a successful brokerage scheme

Section 6:
Time & Talents Network – the story so far

Section 7:
Time & Talents Network – key achievements

Section 8:
Next steps – Employer Supported Volunteering in your organisation

Useful links


3 88

About this guide
The guide covers a range of information on Employer Supported Volunteering with a focus on skills-based brokerage models. It also showcases the development of a network of skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage services based within Volunteer Centres, led by Volunteering England, called the Time & Talents Network.

Who is funding this guide?
This guide has been created through the Modernising Volunteering workstream of the National Support Services programme, led by Volunteering England and funded by Capacitybuilders and Nationwide Foundation.

4 88

Modernising Volunteering
Working at a national level, the Modernising Volunteering workstream is funded by Capacitybuilders through the National Support Services programme. It aims to develop the skills and performance of people and organisations supporting locally based social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups. Resources, information and learning gathered and developed by the Modernising Volunteering workstream are shared with support providers through the Improving Support website, magazine and e-bulletin. To find out more, visit: The Nationwide Foundation is a registered charity (number 1065552) which makes grants to other UK charities. The Foundation chose to fund Volunteering England for this project to discover why businesses and charities, which have so much to offer one another for mutual gain, did not access these benefits as much as they could, and what could be done to forge greater links. The Nationwide Foundation’s principle benefactor is Nationwide Building Society. To find out more about the work of the Nationwide Foundation, visit:

5 88

Volunteering England would like to thank Capacitybuilders and the Nationwide Foundation for funding this work. Our thanks also go to… … Jan Blackburn for providing invaluable Employer Supported Volunteering consultancy support to the Modernising Volunteering National Support Services team from the early stages of the programme. … Marie Broad and colleagues from Time & Talents for Westminster at Volunteer Centre Westminster for their hard work, advice and mentoring support. … Corporate Citizenship for producing the Year One report Forging Sustainable Partnerships between Businesses and Communities .* Plus, a final big thank you to Darlington, Exeter and Oxfordshire Volunteer Centres and CVS’ – their hard work and professionalism over the last year has been essential to setting up a successful skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage network.

* This is available to download from the Volunteering England website, at:

6 88

Section 1

About Employer Supported Volunteering

About Employer Supported Volunteering
Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) is the term used by Volunteering England to describe all forms of volunteering carried out by employees which are supported by their employer. This can take the form of employers freeing up time for employees to do their own volunteering, as well as formal ESV programmes. History of Employer Supported Volunteering Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) has grown steadily in the UK over the last few decades. During the 1990s, hundreds of companies became involved in ESV schemes, although at this time most of these were major national private sector employers. Over the last decade, ESV has become a central feature of many corporate community partnerships. It has also become much more widespread across public sector employers and small to medium enterprises. The majority of early ESV was based on ‘challenge’ activity – where a group of employees worked together to undertake a specific task for a charity or community group, generally a practical project such as painting or decorating. Challenges are sometimes portrayed negatively; however, when they are well-managed and undertaken as a partnership between the charity and the employer, challenges can bring huge benefit and added value to organisations. This is particularly true for charitable organisations with responsibility for maintaining open spaces, play areas and community buildings. Although challenges continue to be of benefit and can serve as a valuable introduction to volunteering and lead to longer term volunteering relationships, there has been a gradual growth in skillsbased volunteering partnerships.

8 88

About skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering (SBESV) describes employers supporting their staff to volunteer their time and professional talents, or wider skills, to support charities and community groups. A highly skilled workforce is key to the success of a business, and SBESV provides worthwhile opportunities for employees to engage their skills for the benefit of others as well as developing new skills which they can take back to their workplace. Charities and community groups benefit from the valuable expertise of employees which builds capacity and increases service delivery as well as developing relationships across the sectors. There are a wide range of SBESV roles that employee volunteers can participate in, from mentoring and trusteeship to IT support and fundraising. Employees can give anything from a few hours to help run a one-off activity – such as a workshop on finance or CV writing – through to a regular weekly/monthly commitment or a longer placement as a volunteer secondee.

9 88

Employer Supported Volunteering and corporate social responsibility For many employers, Employer Supported Volunteering lies within a wider programme of corporate social responsibility. This work usually covers a range of areas, including environment and sustainability, diversity in the workplace and community engagement, with Employer Supported Volunteering at the heart of the community engagement strategy. “We have won a number of bids in which our corporate social responsibility policy was identified as a strength… or as a differentiator.” Medium-sized management consultancy

10 88

Section 2

Employer Supported Volunteering landscape and trends

Employer Supported Volunteering landscape and trends
The 2007 national survey of volunteering and charitable giving, Helping Out, shows that 36% of employees in England worked for an employer who offered an Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) scheme,1 a figure that increased from 16% in 1997.2 The size of the employer does make a difference: the Helping Out survey found that larger companies (with over 250 staff) are more likely to have an ESV scheme available than medium-sized enterprises (with between 51 and 249 staff) or small companies (with 50 staff or less). This was 47% of companies, compared with 20% and 14% respectively.3 In the public sector, Employer Supported Volunteering has attracted attention on various occasions, including in 2002 when paid volunteering leave was introduced in central Government departments, and during the Year of the Volunteer in 2005. In a 2009 review of Employer Supported Volunteering in the Civil Service, Baroness Neuberger recommended that all civil servants should be given up to five days off per year to volunteer.4

N. Low et al (2007) Helping out: a national survey of volunteering and charitable giving, Cabinet Office. 2 J. Davis Smith (1998) The 1997 national survey of volunteering, Institute for Volunteering Research 3 Low et al, 2007 4 J. Neuberger (2009) Employer-supported volunteering in the civil service – A review by Baroness Neuberger, the Prime Minister’s Volunteering Champion, Cabinet Office


12 88

Employer Supported Volunteering and staff skills development Employers are increasingly recognising that supporting their employees to volunteer is not only a cost-effective way to meet their corporate social responsibility objectives, but also a good way to develop staff skills and improve motivation, alongside more formal training. Skills-based activities, such as mentoring, volunteering as a trustee or school governor or planning and delivering a skillssharing workshop, offer clear and identifiable opportunities to learn and develop in a different arena. Pro-bono activities, in which volunteers engage their day-to-day professional skills such as project management, law and accountancy, offer yet more opportunities to link ESV with skills development in new or unfamiliar environments. A sign of the shift in emphasis towards linking Employer Supported Volunteering with skills development is the increasing number of employers that are positioning responsibility for ESV within Human Resources or Learning & Development teams as well as, or instead of, within Corporate Social Responsibility teams. “Within the [Employer Supported Volunteering] Programme we offer a range of different volunteering activities, and plan to develop more. An increasing percentage are skills-based, enhancing the contribution we can make to our partner charities as well as helping BT people to practice existing skills in a different context, learn new skills and grow in confidence and motivation.” 5 Helen Simpson, Director, Volunteering, BT Group

J.Lloyd (2010) More than CV Points? The Benefits of Employee Volunteering for Business and Individuals, The Social Market Foundation

13 88

Employer Supported Volunteering and the Big Society The changing political landscape presents opportunities for promoting Employer Supported Volunteering as a way of connecting communities. Some key points from the Big Society agenda include plans to:

• • •

Lead by example, transforming the civil service into a ‘civic service’ by encouraging civil servants to volunteer and participate in social action projects Launch an annual Big Society Day to celebrate the work of neighbourhood groups and encourage more people to take part in social action Empower communities to come together to address local issues.

There is clearly scope for all involved to monitor how ESV can contribute to these areas as the Big Society concept continues to develop.

14 88

Section 3

Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering – the business case
15 88

Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering – the business case
Why should employers engage in skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering? The benefits of skills-based volunteering to employers are significant and participation is especially relevant in the context of the current economic climate. Skills-based volunteering can provide a greater return on investment than team challenges and arguably deliver greater and more sustainable impacts to the community. One of the key benefits identified is the personal development opportunities for employees, potentially saving money on corporate training programmes in the short term, and leading to an up-skilled workforce, greater employee satisfaction, higher retention rates and increased morale in the longer term.6 It can also provide organisations with a cost-effective method of meeting corporate social responsibilities and help to develop an enhanced reputation and increased profile in the community. This can lead to longer term impacts like security in the local economy and building bridges between businesses and the community they operate in. “As a representative of 25,000 small and medium-sized firms across the UK, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) wholly recommends volunteering… It doesn’t have to cost much, but the benefits – for both the businesses and their respective communities – can be significant.” Phil Orford, Chief Executive, FPB

6 A. Braybrooks and L. Carter, (2009), Forging Sustainable Partnerships Between Businesses and Communities, Volunteering England

16 88

Why should charities and community groups engage in skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering? The key benefits for organisations that take on skills-based employer supported volunteers are access to professional skills and services which they would otherwise be unable to afford, support to develop infrastructure, improved capacity and increased service delivery. The development of longer-term partnerships with employers could also lead to further opportunities to gain support, as well as raising awareness of the work of the charity among employees. Charities and community groups can also benefit from a new perspective on the issues they face. “The benefits [of involving employer supported volunteers] are exposure to a more commercially-oriented way of thinking, and mainly getting stuff done that you can’t afford to resource for.” International charity Skills-based roles can include: Running skills workshops IT support Treasurer/accountancy Project management PR and marketing Trusteeship HR Mentoring Business planning.

17 88

Why should employers work more closely with local volunteering infrastructure organisations? Research by Corporate Citizenship7 shows that the majority of employers generally find opportunities for skills-based volunteers through three main channels: working with existing volunteer involving organisation (VIO) partners, using specialist brokers and making direct approaches to VIOs. The use of existing VIO partners to source skills-based opportunities has great benefits, such as knowledge of the organisation and its cause and a well-established relationship. However, there are also significant opportunities to be exploited if an employer widens its range of partners beyond existing relationships. Local infrastructure organisations are ideally placed to broker effective Employer Supported Volunteering. As a hub for local charities and community organisations, they have an ear to the ground and are up to date with real community issues. Their combination of local knowledge, contacts and volunteering expertise is ideal to source opportunities for employer supported volunteers which make a real difference and meet genuine need.


Corporate Citizenship (formerly The Smart Company) (2007) Developing understanding around non-financial support

18 88

Section 4

About Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage

About Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage
The term ‘Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage’ refers to the process whereby the skills, time and talents of employees are matched with the needs of community organisations through sourcing volunteering opportunities. Brokers work in a variety of ways, from providing one-off activities through to developing comprehensive volunteering programmes. Brokers with knowledge and experience of volunteering are ideally placed to facilitate successful Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) for many reasons. In particular, they:

• • • • • • •

Are experts in forging meaningful ESV activities and partnerships Have excellent local knowledge and links with voluntary organisations of all sizes Are well positioned to provide tailored volunteering options for employers while ensuring that volunteer involving organisations (VIOs) are getting help that will really benefit them Can educate employers on local community issues and the types of ESV activities that really benefit VIOs Appreciate business needs and can ensure that ESV activity has clear links to an employer’s business strategy and the development needs of its staff Can facilitate a range of ESV-related activity, from sourcing and developing opportunities through to monitoring, evaluation and feedback Can act as a point of contact and information for both employers and VIOs to manage expectations and ensure that both parties are working towards a common goal

20 88

• • • •

Can listen and respond to questions and negotiate to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes and partnership working Are able to participate in and advise on local networks and key community and voluntary infrastructure groups Are up to date with good practice and policy developments Are able to provide specialist tools and resources to manage and coordinate volunteering activity and can provide additional consultancy.

21 88

Section 5

Top tips for a successful brokerage scheme
22 88

Top tips for a successful brokerage scheme
Top tips on brokering effective Employer Supported Volunteering 1. Look for well-established businesses and voluntary sector networks in your area 2. Seek to understand the objectives and success criteria for all parties – employers, employees, charities and community groups and their beneficiaries 3. Manage expectations and encourage others to do the same. 4. Clarify roles and responsibilities – who is doing what and when? 5. Confirm information and actions in writing.

23 88

Top tips for engaging employers 1. Research the local business landscape and build a business database. 2. Do your homework. Before approaching employers, search their websites to look for evidence of involvement in corporate social responsibility or Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV), or commitment to charitable causes. 3. Keep your active prospect list of employers up to date, reflecting local economic and political developments. 4. Always keep your word. Agree actions and dates and stick to them; make deadlines realistic and build in room for unexpected eventualities. 5. Ask for referrals. There is nothing more powerful than a recommendation from someone a potential new business knows or respects. Top tips for engaging charities and community groups 1. Explain what skills-based ESV is and the multiple benefits to their organisation, the community and the volunteers. 2. Clarify your role as a broker and what this entails. 3. Manage expectations from the outset. Explain the process of engaging and recruiting volunteers and that there is no guarantee that you will be able to find suitable volunteers to help them. 4. Assess their capacity to provide support and management to volunteers and explain what would be required of them. 5. Discuss how skills-based volunteers could support their organisation and jointly develop appropriate roles.

24 88

Capacitybuilders, photography by Paul Doyle, taken at the Magic Carpet art exhibition at Westerly Exeter BMW/Mini

Section 6

Time & Talents Network – the story so far

Time & Talents Network – the story so far
Background The Time & Talents Network has been developed by Volunteering England through the Modernising Volunteering National Support Services Programme, a three-year programme running from April 2008 until March 2011. The overall aim of the work is to develop sustainable models of skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering, focusing on local brokerage. The desired outcome of this is to provide the voluntary and community sector with better access to skills-based employer supported volunteers. Objectives The Time & Talents Network:

Develops and tests sustainable methods of brokerage and support for skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering (SBESV) Develops new tools and resources to assist the brokerage of SBESV through local and regional infrastructure organisations Builds the confidence, knowledge and capacity of local and regional infrastructure in setting up SBESV partnerships Works with frontline volunteer involving organisations of all sizes and types to recognise the value of SBESV.

• •

26 88

Overview of the Modernising Volunteering National Support Services programme In year one, Volunteering England commissioned Corporate Citizenship to undertake research into existing levels of skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering (SBESV) across the country. Research demonstrated the substantial benefits of skills-based volunteering to both employers and volunteer involving organisations (VIOs). However, it found that the majority of activity was confined to large employers and VIOs, and mostly in London. Research findings and recommendations are documented in the report Forging Sustainable Partnerships between Businesses and Communities.8 Acting on the research findings and recommendations from the year one report, years two and three of the programme have seen a high level of activity in planning, recruiting and setting up three SBESV pilot brokerage services. The pilots were based at Darlington, Exeter and Oxfordshire Volunteer Centres, within their respective CVS’, and funded from July 2009 – September 2010. Dedicated Local Business Partnership Coordinators were recruited at each of the three Volunteer Centres. They manage the work locally and are supported by an experienced national team, led by Volunteering England and with mentoring support from Time & Talents for Westminster at Volunteer Centre Westminster.


Braybrooks and Carter, 2007 (available via

27 88

About the Time & Talents Network The Time & Talents Network has been created to provide a common brand and identity for the new SBESV pilot brokerage schemes. This sits alongside their regional operating names: Time to InVOLve in Darlington, Time & Talents Network Exeter and InVOLve in Oxfordshire. The Time & Talents Network engages employers positively with the community through the brokerage of innovative and sustainable volunteering partnerships. It works by matching the skills and expertise of employees with the needs of charities and community organisations. Time & Talents Network pricing model A pricing model has been developed for use across the three pilot projects. Employer members are charged an annual fee to join the schemes based on their number of employees. The membership fees contribute towards the cost of funding the schemes.

28 88

Project timeline
Inputs Summer 2009 Support from Volunteering England Modernising Volunteering National Support Services team Outputs

• • •

Modernising Volunteering National Support Services team established at Volunteering England Darlington, Exeter and Oxfordshire Volunteer Centres selected following a rigorous application process Local Business Partnership Coordinators recruited at each Volunteer Centre

Support from Westminster Volunteer Centre

Autumn 2009

Regular steering group meetings

Local Business Partnership Coordinators attend training at Volunteering England Employer membership package and pricing model developed Time & Talents Network brand adopted Local Business Partnership Coordinators build employer and volunteer involving organisation databases Time to InVOLve, Time & Talents Network Exeter and InVOLve hold successful launch events 29 88

• •

Conference calls

• •

Network resources


Outputs Winter 2009 – Spring 2010

Support from Volunteering England Modernising Volunteering National Support Services team

Local Business Partnership Coordinators promote schemes to local and national volunteer involving organisations and employers Local Business Partnership Coordinators develop volunteering opportunities Local Business Partnership Coordinators sign up first employers to paid membership schemes

• •

Support from Westminster Volunteer Centre

Summer 2010 Regular steering group meetings

• • •

Conference calls

First volunteering activities underway including media skills workshop, an educational garden project and befriending Local Business Partnership Coordinators continue to engage with employers and recruit more members to their schemes First Time & Talents e-newsletter published

Network resources

30 88

Section 7

Time & Talents Network – key achievements

Time & Talents Network – key achievements
With the Modernising Volunteering programme now in year three, the Time & Talents Network pilot projects are well underway. Here, we outline some of their key achievements so far.

Why should employers work more closely with local volunteering infrastructure organisations? TV presenter Mark Tyler and Paul Nero from SAV Media gave presentations and practical interview techniques for broadcast media while Andrew Howard, Deputy Editor of the Express & Echo, talked about printed media and gave practical advice on writing press releases. Eleven charities were able to benefit from expert advice and training on the day, and its success has led to requests for more similar events. “The afternoon was highly effective, with excellent practical tips and skills which we can all take away and use.” Dan Thompson, The Ivy Project

In March 2010, senior managers and staff from the Express & Echo and SAV Media volunteered their time and talents to provide a media skills workshop set up by Time & Talents Network Exeter. The workshop was developed as a response to numerous requests from local charitable and community organisations that were keen to develop skills to help them to raise their profile in the media. 32 88

33 88

Employees give time to create healthy eating allotment for local school In June 2010, time to inVOLve Darlington celebrated national Volunteers’ Week by organising an educational gardening event, bringing employers and voluntary and community organisations together to build an allotment for a local school. The school is located in the centre of a busy town and some pupils do not have access to a garden so the allotment provided the whole school with an opportunity to learn about sustainable and healthy food sources. It has also proved to be an exciting ongoing task for the school’s gardening club. The project was planned by Groundwork Northeast, with help from pupils and teachers. time to inVOLve then helped to involve employers within the town, encouraging them to offer the professional and wider life skills of their employees to bring the allotment to life. The Department for Education and the Darlington College Agricultural Department took part on the day and financial support was offered by Darlington Borough Council and Durham and Darlington NHS. The day was a great success with 27 people taking part overall. Plans have already been put in place for Darlington College to return to the school and use their skills to construct a greenhouse.

34 88

Learnings since 1996 Back in 1996, five employers decided that they wanted to work in partnership with Volunteer Centre Westminster to ensure that their volunteering projects would be both sustainable and strategic. Before that, volunteering had been on an ad-hoc basis, primarily around Christmas and summer challenges. There was a desire to link up and pay greater attention to local needs. The key learnings remain as important today as they were at the very beginning: Charging and shared responsibility: Each employer takes a shared responsibility for the Time & Talents for Westminster partnership. By paying an annual contribution to fund the small staff team, there is a commitment to and investment in addressing local issues together. Co-creation: The best projects are usually those that have been developed jointly, where all sides have listened to one another and have created something new around specific needs and wants. Partnership ethos; leading & learning together: Partners meet regularly at events and forums to openly discuss challenges, what has worked well, case studies and toolkits. This has resulted in a rich peer-learning environment where everyone learns more quickly.

35 88

Thoughts from our pilot projects “The tools and resources provided by Volunteering England were invaluable during the year we spent setting up the inVOLve scheme in Oxfordshire.” Grant Hayward, Local Business Partnership Coordinator, OCVA, Oxford “Working with Volunteering England and creating the Time & Talents network has been a fantastic experience and an invaluable source of support and resource.” Mark Wilkes, Local Business Partnership Coordinator, Evolution, Darlington “Launching the Time & Talents Network in Exeter allowed me to use skills and knowledge I have developed through many years working across the private, public and voluntary sectors. However, without the on hand support, mentoring and practical advice offered by Volunteering England and my colleagues across the Time & Talents Network, setting up a new Employer Supported Volunteering brokerage scheme in Exeter would have taken considerably longer and would have presented even greater challenges than those I have faced.” Paul Simmons, Local Business Partnership Co-ordinator, Time & Talents Network Exeter

36 88

Section 8

Next steps - Employer Supported Volunteering in your organisation
37 88

Next steps – Employer Supported Volunteering in your organisation
Looking for more information on Employer Supported Volunteering? The Volunteering England website has comprehensive information on Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV), including a free guide for Volunteer Centres. To find out more, visit: Interested in setting up a skills-based scheme? There are many considerations to take into account when deciding whether or not skills-based ESV brokerage could work for your organisation. These include:

• • • • • •

Funding sources Business landscape – number, size, sector, demand. Would employers in your area be prepared to pay? Existing ESV experience and expertise Capacity within your organisation Alignment with your wider organisational objectives The impact of other brokers operating in your area.

If you think there is a demand for skills-based ESV brokerage in your area, please contact Volunteering England for more information (see back cover).

38 88

Useful links
Volunteering England Volunteering England is committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. The website contains lots of useful information, including a comprehensive Employer Supported Volunteering section. InVOLve Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering Brokerage scheme, based at Oxfordshire Volunteer Centre.* Time & Talents Network Exeter Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering Brokerage scheme, based at Volunteer Centre Exeter.* Time to inVOLve Skills-based Employer Supported Volunteering Brokerage scheme, based at Volunteer Centre Darlington.* Time & Talents for Westminster Time & Talents for Westminster is a not-for-profit partnership working with private, public and voluntary sector organisations to facilitate Employer Supported Volunteering projects, with a particular focus on skills-based and sustainable work.

* These schemes are initially funded by Volunteering England, through the Modernising Volunteering National Support Service.

39 88

To request this publication in large print, Braille or on audio CD, please email: Volunteering England Regent’s Wharf 8 All Saints Street London N1 9RL 020 7520 8900 A company limited by guarantee. Registered in England & Wales No. 4934814 Registered Charity No. 1102770