The more I talk to Scottish businesses about social impact and giving back, the more heartened I am to witness a genuine shift towards more meaningful community support. But as restrictions ease and isolation subsides, I’m keen to see vital activity such as employee volunteering stay buoyant.
Just over a year ago, our own digital search and match employee volunteering platform was born. We launched Social Good Connect six months ahead of schedule in response to the pandemic. Over 180 Scotland-based businesses and charities – many UK-wide – have joined the movement, including DC Thomson, Ooni, Ninja Kiwi, Tayside Cancer Support and Marie Curie.
Business leaders are happy to support a non-profit social enterprise that encourages their employees to volunteer time and expertise. With their employer’s support and in a multitude of ways for every kind of charity, hundreds of skilled professionals have been helping overstretched charities and struggling communities. As Calum McPherson from Golphin put it, “if you can help your people contribute to society by helping them volunteer on work time in a supportive framework, why wouldn’t you?”
He’s got a point. There’s no catch to choosing a cause that matches your skills and interests, and then volunteering on work time. Companies large and small, in all types of sector, are reporting a greater sense of purpose and morale-boost among furloughed and working employees. Staff wellbeing and morale is one of the biggest reasons I hear every month for them joining the platform.
David Hamilton at Ninja Kwi coined the benefits: “Employee volunteering makes business sense You’re helping employees grow a sense of purpose and wellbeing outside of work, you’re making a big difference to charities who really need skilled help, and you’re helping yourself retain a motivated workforce.”
I’m always happy to hear Social Good Connect described as an inspiring way of businesses connecting their employees to local community projects, but let’s not let the good work stop just because Covid is ‘fading’ or because businesses are reshaping their priorities. Now more than ever, we all need employers and their employees to carry on giving back to the communities they serve. There are plenty of charities and parts of the community whose needs are greater than in pre-pandemic times. Tayside Cancer Support is a great example: “It’s always proved difficult to find new befrienders. Our relationship with you has made a huge and valuable difference.”
Before launching Social Good Connect, CEO and founder Caroline McKenna spent 20 years in financial services and led various charities and start-ups including the Dundee International Women’s Centre. She works on the boards of three not-for-profit organisations, Good Call, U-evolve and Dundee University’s School of Business Advisory Board.