Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Guest Post: The value of volunteerism

August 26, 2009: 2:02 PM ET
Train your People and Do Good
by Barry Salzburg, CEO, Deloitte
Recently, I was sitting with several dozen inner-city teens, talking with them about college and careers. It was a free-wheeling conversation. I was peppered with questions—including, "How can I get your job?"
I left absolutely convinced that as a result of that session, at least one kid who otherwise would have missed going to college will, in fact, be going. Let me tell you, it made my day, if not my week.
And it reminded me of an often overlooked way to keep meeting people's needs, particularly in these hard times as non-profit organizations are seeing double-digit drops in funding, as demand goes through the roof. Skills-based volunteerism. That is, donating high-value, professional skills—for free.
Our company, Deloitte, recently conducted a survey on corporate volunteering. We found that 91% of respondents agreed that skills-based volunteering would add value to training and development, especially in fostering leadership and business skills. But only 16% of companies offer skills-based volunteering as an option for employees. Only one out of six.
Given the obvious need out there and also given President Obama's impassioned call for national service, we've gone way beyond surveying about volunteerism. We've pledged $50 million in services--that's right, $50 million worth of our employees' time--over three years to help non-profit organizations boost their effectiveness.
Deloitte employees are donating skills in such areas as IT, marketing and personnel management, at all sorts of non-profit organizations. For me,education is a special passion. I wasn't the first in my family ever to go to college—my older sister claimed that honor—but I know what a profound difference it made in my life and in the lives of my two sons. So I work with a non-profit called College Summit.
College Summit, in fact, brought me and those inner-city kids together. College Summit's goal: to take kids from families in which nobody has ever gone to college--and then get them into college. The approach: Create a 'college-going culture' in high schools where college-going rates are low. We provide cash, lots of volunteer hours from our people, and pro bono work on systems that give principals and schools districts much better data about their students' progress.
Through personal experience, I've learned that skills-based volunteeriism is one of those double bottom-line investments. It helps non-profits build capacity to serve more people with greater efficiency--making the non-profit more attractive for corporate support. That's the no-brainer benefit. The less obvious benefit is the real-world training for our people, especially our younger people. We do valuable, low-cost training and do some good for the world.
Barry Salzberg is CEO of Deloitte LLP....MORE MORE...

On April 21, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. What better day than today to spotlight businesses that reflect the late Senator's mission to expand national service. More and more companies--IBM (IBM), UPS (UPS), Target (TGT), General Electric (GE), Citigroup (C) and Pfizer (PFE), among them--are aiding not-for-profits by having their employees share skills. Done right, this sort of volunteerism can be win-win-win: image-enhancing for the company, morale-boosting for employees, and generally good for the world.

A Billion + Change ("Great Talent for the Greater Good") is the national program through which corporations pledge to expand their volunteered professional services to the nonprofit sector. Another member, besides the companies above, is Deloitte, whose CEO is committed personally. Here's Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg's take on the value of volunteerism:

Photo Courtesy of Deloitte

Photo Courtesy of Deloitte LLP

Recently, I was sitting with several dozen inner-city teens, talking with them about college and careers. It was a free-wheeling conversation. I was peppered with questions--including, "How can I get your job?"

I left absolutely convinced that as a result of that session, at least one kid who otherwise would have missed going to college will, in fact, be going. Let me tell you, it made my day, if not my week.

And it reminded me of an often overlooked way to meet people's needs, particularly in these hard times as non-profit organizations are seeing double-digit drops in funding--as demand goes through the roof. I'm talking about skills-based volunteerism. That is, donating high-value, professional skills--for free.

Our company, Deloitte, recently conducted a survey on corporate volunteering. We found that 91% of respondents agreed that skills-based volunteering would add value to training and development, especially in fostering leadership and business skills. But only 16% of companies offer skills-based volunteering as an option for employees. Only one out of six.

Given the obvious need out there and also given President Obama's impassioned call for national service, we've gone way beyond surveying about volunteerism. We've pledged $50 million in services--that's right, $50 million worth of our employees' time--over three years to help non-profit organizations boost their effectiveness.

Deloitte employees are donating skills in such areas as IT, marketing and personnel management at all sorts of non-profit organizations. For me, education is a special passion. I wasn't the first in my family ever to go to college--my older sister claimed that honor. But I know what a profound difference it made in my life and in the lives of my two sons. So I work with a non-profit called College Summit.

College Summit, in fact, brought me and those inner-city kids together. The organization's goal: to take kids--many from families in which nobody has ever gone to college—and get them into college. The approach: Create a 'college-going culture' in high schools where college-going rates are low. We provide cash, lots of volunteer hours from our people, and pro bono work on systems that give principals and schools districts much better data about their students' progress.

Through personal experience, I've learned that skills-based volunteerism is one of those double bottom-line investments. It helps non-profits build capacity to serve more people with greater efficiency--which makes the non-profit more attractive for corporate support. That's the no-brainer benefit. The less obvious benefit is the real-world training for our people, especially our younger people. We do valuable, low-cost training and we also do some good for the world.

Barry Salzberg, with Deloitte for 32 years, has been CEO since 2007.

Join the Conversation
Fortune's Most Powerful Women
Fortune's Most Powerful Women For the latest on the most influential women in business, philanthropy, government, and the arts, like us on Facebook.
Guest Posts
Fortune Most Powerful Women Fortune Most Powerful Women The rolodex that redefined power
Profile in The Washington Post
Sheryl Sandberg: Sheryl Sandberg: Don't leave before you leave
COO of Facebook
Wendy Clark Wendy Clark Exec learns firsthand how the homeless live
SVP of the Global Sparkling Brand Center at Coca-Cola
Video
Marissa Mayer's 3 biggest decisions as Yahoo CEO With company stock up over 100% since she began running the company 16 months ago, Mayer reflects on her choices to date. Watch
Chelsea Clinton on running for office: 'I don't know' The vice chairman of the Clinton Foundation talks about her diverse career path and growing up in the spotlight. Watch
About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

Email Pattie Sellers | Welcome to Postcards.
Follow Pattie | email newsletter
MPWomen go Global

The Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership brings rising-star women from countries around the world to the U.S. for three-week mentorships with participants of the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit - among them Ursula Burns of Xerox, Laura Lang of Time Inc., Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Tory Burch.

Read more

Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.