“One in two employees polled is interested in taking part in company-organised volunteer activities, but only one in five said his employer held such activities in the past year” (Calls To Firms: Make Giving Part Of DNA, Priscilla Goy)
This is not necessarily a problem of mismatch – in which “one in two employees polled is interested in taking part in company-organised volunteer activities, but only one in five said his employer held such activities in the past year” (ST, May 28) – but could signal a wider challenge of transforming words into deeds. After all, only one in three employees volunteer through their employer, and volunteers even cited “paid volunteer leave” as a top factor which would spur them to volunteer. Because if there is strong interest in volunteerism amongst these individuals, and even if these opportunities are far and few between in their companies, why do they not seek endeavours on their own?
Why should employees expect to be paid, if they do take time off for such activities?
In other words, besides the skills-based volunteerism which could be offered to charities – since the professionals will provide greater contributions in this regard – adults in general should be encouraged to be involved in community service, especially after the programmes they were exposed to in their schools. Those who have a genuine interest to serve should do so, even if the absence of organised opportunities. While the number of adult volunteers has increased over the years, getting more Singaporeans engaged is important, since they will be more likely to involve their family members and children in the future. Such undertakings are no less meaningful. Furthermore stories of role models, of volunteers who have been in their sectors for a long time, can also be shared too.
Another reason why volunteering independently may be more constructive is the oft-cited scepticism attached to corporate volunteerism. While manpower and resources could be mobilised with ease in a corporation, the notion of corporate social responsibility may also include staff members who are reluctant – but are compelled by colleagues or superiors – and could be used with more pragmatic objectives in mind: boosting public relations, distracting from possible oversights, or using these occasions to paint themselves in a positive light. And these motives can be hard to ascertain. In this vein the initiative of the individual will count for more, and in the bigger picture an organisation like the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre could raise awareness of such openings in the non-profits, thereby encouraging more to venture out on their own.