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Volunteering via companies

Fraunhofer IAO studies the importance of voluntary work to companies

Fewer and fewer people are committing themselves to dedicated volunteering organizations, with many preferring to support causes on an ad hoc basis. Many companies also encourage their staff to support non-profit projects. Fraunhofer IAO is using an online survey to study the importance companies attach to employees’ voluntary work.

The recent floods across parts of Germany drew a great many volunteers from all corners of the country, a phenomenon much reported in the media. Integrating all these volunteers into disaster relief and crisis management structures calls for a major organizational and coordination effort on the part of local relief agencies. And the scope of these tasks will only expand in future: ever fewer people are willing to volunteer through dedicated organizations, instead preferring to support causes on an ad hoc basis. That is why, whenever an emergency occurs, agencies such as the Red Cross or Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) are having to train up people who have no prior experience and coordinate their activities, all in next to no time and under the harshest of conditions.

Companies, too, have discovered the benefits of volunteering. Some are giving employees time off work to carry out voluntary aid work, while others are making whole teams of people available for a given volunteer project. These instances of companies systematically encouraging employees’ voluntary work or sending staff directly to work on non-profit projects is known as Corporate Volunteering.

As part of the INKA project, which is focused on the professional integration of volunteers into disaster prevention and crisis management, Fraunhofer IAO is studying how companies cooperate with relief agencies and how they can encourage their staff to do voluntary work. Fraunhofer scientists are using an online survey to find out how important companies feel such volunteering efforts are. In particular, they are hoping to discover whether and where there are any barriers to supporting employees’ willingness to volunteer and how companies can make it easier for them – especially for disaster relief. The online survey takes around 15 minutes to complete and is accessible from June 26 to July 31, 2013.

Fraunhofer IAO is hoping for participation from as many companies as possible, of all sizes and from all sectors. On request, participants will receive a summary of the study’s results.

The INKA project is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It brings together representatives from the fields of civil protection, civil society, science and business in order to analyze structures of voluntary involvement from a variety of perspectives and to test out groundbreaking new concepts in practice.

Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut
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