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Small businesses encouraged to start volunteer schemes

Howard Lake | 30 July 2008 | News

Volunteering England has launched a campaign asking small and medium sized businesses to give more help to charities by establishing employer-supported volunteering (ESV) schemes that enable employees to volunteer their time to good causes through a work context.
Although smaller companies account for 59% of private sector employment in the UK, only 14% of them offer an ESV scheme, according to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Volunteering England’s campaign is supported by The British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum for Private Business and a range of other industry bodies, and is the culmination of a three-year project aimed at developing Employer Supported Volunteering.
Justin Davis-Smith, Chief Executive of Volunteering England, said that their research shows that ESVs can be good for business.
“In spite of the pressure on resources which many small and medium sized businesses face”, he said, “an employer supported volunteering programme can bring considerable benefits; often companies with ESV programmes find that employees are proud to work for them and potential employees want to join them. It often makes a difference with customers too, who feel good about buying from them and can lead to added investment”.
The successful ‘Give a few bob’ campaign, featuring the late comedian Bob Monkhouse, is being used as an illustration of the benefits that volunteering can bring to both charities and small businesses.
Robert Prevezer, the Chairman of The Communications Agency, a marketing company with around 45 staff, had offered the company’s services free of charge to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation at a time when one of his friends was suffering from the disease.
The campaign developed by TCA generated over £3 million worth of media activity, raising the profile of prostate cancer research and helping to more than double donations to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation.
Volunteering England’s campaign will help SMEs with three key points: why volunteer? How can I get started? and what’s available in my area? It is focused on encouraging businesses to find information and resources on its website.