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Businesses urged to give the Christmas gift of corporate volunteering

28 November 2023

As we approach the festive season, a time of joy, gratitude and giving, South Australia’s peak volunteering body, Volunteering SA&NT, is calling on businesses to truly embody the spirit of Christmas through corporate volunteering and assist charities struggling to meet the growing requests for help from the most vulnerable members of our community.

Volunteering SA&NT’s Corporate Volunteering Program provides an opportunity for socially responsible businesses to support employees in undertaking volunteer opportunities. While the program has experienced a post-pandemic recovery, charities are still desperate for resources.

At the height of COVID in 2020/21, Volunteering SA&NT experienced a plummet in corporate volunteer numbers, recording only 33 employees going through its Corporate Volunteering Program. In the two years since, it has posted a growth of more than eight-fold in the number of employees undertaking its Corporate Volunteering Program.

Volunteering SA&NT CEO, Hamilton Calder, said more needs to be done to aid charities and not-for-profits who are grappling with the increasing requests for help from South Australians, exacerbated by the pressures of the cost of living. 

“Businesses who go through our Corporate Volunteering Program can help bridge that growing gap for charities desperate for resources. Every business wants to be a leader in environmental, social and governance, but many ignore one of the most effective and efficient ways to fully engage their workforce in ESG leadership, which is empowering employees to volunteer their time on causes that matter to them,” said Mr Calder.

“Recent studies verify the benefits of corporate volunteering and for businesses are three-fold – it makes the world a better place, improves their employee’s holistic life, and supports a healthier and more productive work environment.

“The return on investment for organisations is that it improves staff health and wellbeing, contributes to staff learning and developing new skills, and enhances employee engagement.”

CEO of Puddle Jumpers, Melanie Tate, said their charity, which supports at-risk children and families, has experienced a significant 30 per cent spike in demand for their services in the past six months.

“We are now providing food relief to more than 1,500 families and people each week and alongside other charities, we are really struggling to keep up with the growing demand for help from our most vulnerable members of our community,” said Ms Tate.

“We are desperate to find volunteers in roles of collecting food, sorting food donations and serving food. The waiting list for our camps for at-risk children has also grown due to the rising number of kids living in out-of-home care. These camps have proven invaluable to kids of all ages in promoting and developing their personal, social and cultural growth. 

“Volunteering SA&NT’s Corporate Volunteering Program has helped us bridge many gaps from with volunteering including helping to set up camps, make beds, pre-cook meals, and set up activities. Volunteers have also helped by packing for camps, making banners at our offices and assisting in fundraising ventures and food relief programs.

“We are currently hoping more businesses sign up for the Corporate Volunteering Program as we need 100 volunteers to lend us a hand for a Christmas party we’re holding for 1,000 children at Bonython Park on the 21st of December.

“We are extremely grateful to businesses like Beach Energy, who have come through the Corporate Volunteering Program.”

Beach Energy’s interim CEO, Bruce Clement, said the Adelaide-based company recognised the positive impact of volunteering on their people and communities and encouraged other businesses to sign up for Volunteering SA&NT’s Corporate Volunteering Program.

“When our people volunteer, we feel good about giving back to the community and have an increased awareness of social and environmental issues. It has the added benefit of reconnecting people and building team camaraderie,” said Mr Clement.

“More than 160 Beach employees took part in our Workplace Volunteering Program last year with the support of Volunteering SA&NT. This included time volunteering at organisations including Backpack 4 SA Kids, Treasure Boxes, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Habitat for Humanity, Cleland Wildlife Park, Clean Up Australia, Foodbank, Puddle Jumpers and the One and All.

“We know that volunteering plays a fundamental role in supporting the important activities of charitable organisations in contributing to more sustainable, healthy and resilient communities.”

Click here for information on Volunteering SA&NT’s Corporate Volunteering Program.

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