Employee Supported Volunteering (or ESV) is a process whereby employers allow employees to volunteer for good causes, or give their skills and time to support community projects or voluntary organisations. The emphasis for ESV is less about workplace challenge days (clearing a path, draining a pond or painting a fence or community building) and more about the structured transfer of knowledge and skills between the business and community sectors. This is often called skills based volunteering.
Most commentators accept that business can help to shape communities.
Most know that business, large or small, possesses a wealth of skill and experience, honed in a competitive market place.
Most hope that local business wants to support the community in which it trades.
Infrastucture organisations such as Support Cambridgeshire also recognise that community organisations across Cambridgeshire often lack the very skills that business has in abundance.
The task is to bring both sectors together in a new and exciting Learning and Skills Exchange Programme.
The Office for Civil Society recently conducted research on ESV across 11 pilots throughout the UK. Whilst there were pockets of good practice, the same recurring themes or barriers were identified:
There is very little resource to support ESV. The private sector is generally unwilling to fund, and resources are constrained in both the public and community sectors.
ESV only works well if it is a brokered relationship. Left to their own devices, the community and business sectors talk wildly different languages.
The community sector has to be clear with both its ask, and its offer to business.
ESV is a two – way street. It is not only about what business can give to its community, but what voluntary organisations can give back to business.
Support Cambridgeshire is a new partnership of three trusted community based organisations: Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations based in Huntingdonshire, Cambridge Council of Voluntary Service in Cambridge, and Cambridgeshire ACRE in Ely.
The partnership has come together under a three year programme funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, with the express aim of supporting the community and voluntary sector and achieving better outcomes for communities across the county.
The partnership wants to ensure that community groups can express influence, and map their own futures more distinctly. Part of this process is about making groups more business focussed and tender ready.
A key theme for this partnership is better engagement with business. We would like Business to provide bite sized elements of distinct support as required by Community organisations. This support could be through training, through face to face advice, or online or via the telephone. It could be in organisational development, HR, financial accounting, design or contract management.
- The first stage of this process is to enlist interested businesses across Cambridgeshire.
- The second stage is to ascertain what the community needs.
- The third stage is to match both parties.
If you are a local business, and feel you can offer some free time to assist a community organisation, either through training or face to face or online support, then please contact Supportcambridgeshire in the first instance.
What we can offer to businesses
- A mutually beneficial relationship between local business and community groups and organisations.
- Partners with us will have a thorough understanding of community organisations and the requirements town and parish councils.
- Development workers who can thoroughly assess requests for support and decide whether or not these can be met by local business.
- Local business can be confident that any application has been bench-tested before they receive it, preventing lost time and a lack of clarity.
- Development workers can liaise with local business to ensure that adequate progress is made with each application, and can broker relations between business and the community groups concerned
- Each relationship will be defined as short term – a bite sized element of support which local business can easily schedule amongst their other work.
- Clear feedback will be provided to business on the effect of their support.
In addition, participating businesses can expect:
- a listing on our our website
- use of our logo and strapline
- a feature, article or relevant link within our monthly newsletter
- invitations to networking and peer-learning events
- opportunities for business promotion
- the opportunity to assist in social action initiatives within Cambridgeshire neighbourhoods.
- Staff development.
- The opportunity to bench test new ideas on new audiences.
- Reach into new markets and new market segments.