Don’t give up on the community: What the experts say


I DON’T think the economic downturn alters the rationale for volunteering.

As far as employees go, volunteering helps them feel better about themselves and their workplace. It also helps them to develop skills they might not otherwise acquire, such as mentoring skills if they volunteer in schools.

There are also benefits for employers. Volunteering increases employee engagement and that engagement is crucial to talent management and retention.

Employees like to feel they belong to an organisation that does more than just make money. In addition, there is plenty of demand for volunteers.

It really helps, for example, when a school can rely on 15 employees coming in every week to help with reading.

I don’t see volunteering decreasing in the current circumstances — there are too many benefits to everyone concerned. In fact, I think it will continue to rise steadily.

Rachael Hewson, associate director at Mason Blake, a financial recruitment firm

ANYTHING that makes a candidate stand out at interview

is good. These days many people have good academic qualifi- cations and work-experience records, but it is the human side that starts conversations during an interview.

It’s also important to the banking sector that it isn’t seen as being only interested in making money, so it wants to recruit people with different sides to their character.

Volunteering shows that a candidate has other interests, and the way a candidate discusses his or her volunteering often shows what he or she is like as a person. It’s also a safer area for conversation than many others in an interview — discrimination laws have made normal conversation harder.


CSR is here to stay. Hard times won’t change that. It’s not something that companies can just dip out of once they have dipped in. They are often in long-term partnerships with the local community.

Marcus Jamieson-Pond, CSR officer at the Addleshaw Goddard law firm

I AM not surprised by the latest City Action figures, but I do understand why people would expect less volunteering in difficult times.

I think the rise in volunteering reflects the extra efforts that have gone into promoting CSR in the past three or four years.

Also, in difficult times it’s more likely that companies will cut cash donations. Volunteering will be unaffected because it offers so many advantages compared with signing a cheque. Business benefits from the feel-good factor employees get from volunteering, and their skills are improved.

Volunteering is also popular with graduates and so there is a recruitment advantage.

We have just been nominated for a Dragon Award for our volunteering. In June, we had three weeks of volunteering events involving 37 projects and 610 of our 1,450 staff took part.

Most staff will volunteer if you make it easy for them — and it is my job to make it easier for them.

Elaine Ray, investment banker and employee volunteer at Royal Bank of Scotland

EVERYONE at the Bank of Scotland can have a paid day off to volunteer.

I really recommend the personal involvement. Giving money is good, but it’s only with volunteering that you experience the real personal sense of reward as well as a feeling of connection.

Professional expertise is extremely expensive for small charities to buy in and I feel good that I am able to provide it as a volunteer.

I am also working in my local community to give something back. Through that I get to know local people and it makes me feel part of the London borough of Southwark.

People complain about lack of community spirit; I say they should do something about it. They don’t need anyone’s permission.

I have been absolutely stunned by the sheer numbers of local people that volunteer at Time and Talents — there are more volunteers than staff.


Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit


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