How to create a successful volunteering programme
In 2017, we developed a new theory of change for Insitituto C&A’s long-standing employee volunteer programme (EVP), based on the previous three years of programme evaluations. Since 1991, the programme has engaged 3,426 employees to participate in the education of children and adolescents, in all communities in Brazil where the company is present. The programme created better educational conditions for children, giving them access to new learning experiences, improved premises and educational materials. Here are the actions needed for a successful EVP programme.
Clarify the outcomes
Volunteering is well-developed within C&A Brazil. But it’s important to clarify outcomes for employees as the EVP enters a new programming phase. C&A leadership and volunteers need to fully understand what the expected outcomes and social impact are from the volunteer activities before they go to the community.
Personal and professional development
The EVP has contributed to the social engagement of employees, producing results in terms of personal and professional development that have positively influenced the company’s working environment and team development.
Combine business expertise with community needs
Our ‘bazaar’ strategy – selling surplus C&A stock through community organisations – was successful because it related to the core business function of C&A Brazil, and the needs of community organisations. It’s important that the EVP continues to look for links between its business expertise and the needs of the community organisations it supports.
Play to volunteers’ strengths
It’s crucial to make volunteer activities fun and relevant to their skills. Volunteers respond best when they use their strengths to deliver fun activities – like music, theatre and play – which children need for cognitive development, and skill-based learning such as CV writing or business pricing support for women in the fashion industry.
Have a clear agreement
Clear criteria and agreement with community organisations is crucial for sustaining engagement and delivering results. Guidelines for community partnerships provide structure during a fixed implementation cycle (typically three to five years). These should be based on clear objectives, expected results and an exit strategy, along with suitable monitoring and evaluation. This should be second nature for the EVP in the future.
Inspiring Women 2017
2017 was the third year of our employee engagement campaign, Inspiring Women, in which C&A colleagues shared stories of women that have taught them something, and in doing so helped women’s charities.
Inspiring Women ran in
17 countries in Europe and China
13,920 employees taking part
they raised €574,000
– supporting 31 charities that focus on supporting women to live safe and successful lives.