On Tuesday 12th July, Devon and Cornwall Business Council (DCBC) partnering with the Universities of Sheffield and Hull, the Cabinet Office, and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, held an inclusive workshop surround Employer Sponsored Volunteering, on Tuesday 12th July, hosted by Santander Bank in Exeter.
Employer-sponsored volunteering is defined as organizational support, often in the form of paid leave or sponsorship, for employees pursuing volunteer opportunities or performing community services
DCBC supports regional drive to deliver a more efficient Employer Sponsored Volunteering (ESV) framework in order to benefit employers and charities.
Ben Rhodes, Chief Executive, Devon and Cornwall Business Council said: “There are substantial opportunities for mutual benefits to be achieved through properly managed and coordinated ESV within the region. It’s not just about sending a team out to paint a wall, it more than that. It’s about sharing expertise and skills with and between the charities to help them to grow and develop as businesses, in order for them to be more sustainable and ultimately, do more good”.
The events have arisen from research into ESV by Dr Jon Burchell, University of Sheffield, and Dr Joanne Cook, University of Hull, this research suggested that there are 4 key challenges holding back a significant step change in ESV across the region
● Skills Gap - They found that the skills and resources being offered are not always necessarily those that are most required by the third sector organisation. Whilst there is an increasing drive towards skills-based volunteering, many volunteers like to undertake activities unconnected to their working lives.
● Knowledge Gap - A significant level of misunderstanding between companies and third sector organisations was also observed. There is a growing need to develop a common language around ESV to overcome this and establish successful relationships.
● Capacity Gap - The research found that third sector groups often lack the support and resources to be able to properly engage with ESV, whilst companies often struggle to increase the numbers of employees engaged with ESV.
● Infrastructure Gap - Infrastructural support is currently insufficient to bridge the above gaps. Improving brokerage/support activities will be crucial in improving connections between the sectors and more effectively targeting activities.
However, Dr Joanne Cook did acknowledge that if the infrastructure gap were overcome, it is likely to bring forward solutions in overcoming the other three.
In the South West there are positive signs that partnerships and collaboration between employers and charities, managed through skilled and effective brokers, are beginning to form and benefit all parties. However, there remain areas where there is little or no activity. A positive outcome from this event would be the strengthening of partnerships where these already exist, and the beginning of conversations between interested organisations with a view to creating skills sharing partnerships where no such activity is currently taking place.
Renee Smith-Gorringe, Office for Civil Society and Innovation: “The Cabinet Office launched the ‘Skills Exchange Project’ to facilitate and support the development of effective and sustainable partnerships at a local level. Working with a network of ambassadors, and a Steering Group drawn from employers, charities and brokerage organisations, the vision of the Skills Exchange project is to build and strengthen communities, enhance individual wellbeing and support economic growth through employer supported volunteering. We joined with the Universities of Hull and Sheffield to facilitate cross sector dialog and the potential infrastructure required to deliver employer supported volunteering. We hope that the learning from today’s event and the continuous conversation we have with stakeholders will inform and shape the direction of this project in the future.”