SBV is an important part of the CSR strategy in many institutions. However, it does not replace traditional, broader volunteering approaches; they complement each other and that must be consciously balanced. This was well demonstrated by the panelists’ examples and they also illustrated that putting an SBV strategy in action is a long-term process.
SBV programs are more complex to setup and manage and their success will be based on few projects and few employees. They typically require more upfront planning, sometimes elaborate selection of suitable employees, activities last significantly longer (weeks to months, vs. hours to days) and they are often cross-border (vs. local). This must be carefully aligned not only internally but also with the NGO partner(s).
As several of these aspects were discussed, one key factor for successful SBV activities emerged: establishing strategic, long-term partnerships between a company and one or a few NGO’s. Such partnerships provide the necessary basis to develop effective, value-adding programs, to bring the best of both sides to play and to avoid misunderstandings from planning to execution.
Skill-selection is obviously another crucial element of success. Therefore, SBV programs include a rather rigorous selection process, which is somewhat contrary to the volunteering idea (hence the need to keep SBV and traditional volunteering side-to-side). While SBV programs are often linked with “high-potential” development programs, there was agreement in the room that this is not the most effective selection, i.e. the rights skills should come from high performers, but any career level (even retirees as illustrated by one panelist).
EVA HALPER currently leads Credit Suisse’s Global Education Initiative, building and managing partnerships with international non-profits. Eva developed and has since rolled out the Bank’s flagship international skills-based volunteering program, The Global Citizens Program, which offers a leadership development opportunity enabling employees to work with partners abroad.
DALIA KAIZERMAN is a senior manager and the manager of volunteering activities of Bank Hapoalim. She has been the director of many branches of the bank, a deputy director general of Isracard-Mastercard, and a directorate member of Chamber of Commerce Franc – Israel and the Mutual Funds Company of Bank Hapoalim Switzerland.
MICHAEL REGNET is the Community Engagement Manager at Allianz SE and is responsible for companywide citizen activities with a special focus on Corporate Volunteering and the network of social partners including Allianz foundations. He manages the “Social OPEX” program, which offers pro bono quality management for social entrepreneurs worldwide.
WILLY PILLINGER is the Owner and Managing Director at xcelarate GmbH, a consulting firm in Switzerland. Prior to xcelarate, he was a partner and board member with Accenture (Switzerland) for over ten years. He also acted as a senior member of Accenture Development Partnerships, a global organization supporting the non-profit sector and corporate intrapreneur activities.