Volunteering to Solve Global Development Challenges

December 5, 2014 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

In communities across the United States, one person in four volunteers regularly.  While this number has stayed relatively stable over the past 12 years, an interesting change has taken place inside American businesses, where participation in corporate volunteer programs is on the rise in a big way.

Today is International Volunteer Day, and every year, we’re seeing businesses enhancing their practices of “doing well by doing good.” This year, the NGO PYXERA Global, a USGLC innovations campaign sponsor, surveyed 26 Fortune 500 companies – including Intel, FedEx, John Deere, IBM and Google – and found that more than 8,000 of their employees had participated in pro bono service assignments in 80 countries.

With pro bono work, companies emphasize that their employees have an opportunity to apply their professional skills to challenges in countries where they don’t normally work. The results are often described as life-changing.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps is the largest program of its kind in the world. Investing in service opportunities for their employees is a part of the company’s recruitment pitch and has increased its understanding and appreciation of growth markets.

IBM now partners with USAID and PYXERA to expand corporate volunteer programs internationally. The capacity-building these corporate volunteers do for communities and local governments also helps their employers enter new markets to enhance their bottom line and advance U.S. global development goals.

International Volunteer Day provides occasion to consider the many ways in which development programs overseas can help businesses in the United States. Do you know a business with a unique volunteer program for their employees? Let us know in the comments.

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