The strong business case for employee volunteering

Effective company-led employee volunteering programmes (EVPs) are becoming defining factors of good corporate citizenship, employee loyalty and job desirability, according to research conducted by corporate responsibility consultancy Trialogue and employee volunteering platform for good.

Survey results of employees’ views on their company volunteering programmes, published in the 2023 Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, make a strong case for companies to offer EVPs. Almost all the 600 surveyed volunteers (92%) agreed that EVPs are an important component of good corporate citizenship. Eighty-three percent said that their company’s commitment to the community makes them proud to work at the company, while 91% perceive their volunteering as having a positive impact on the organisation and the beneficiaries they support.

Employees are increasingly considering their potential employers’ volunteering programmes when joining a company. Some 45% of surveyed volunteers noted this as a consideration, compared to 32% in 2021. Additionally, 67% of surveyed volunteers noted that volunteering had allowed them to develop key skills that could be applied to their work.

Employee volunteering is gaining ground

Trialogue’s latest survey of local companies and employees shows a slow but steady increase in volunteering participation. Seventy-eight percent of the surveyed companies offer EVPs, compared to 71% last year. Employee participation has increased to 45%, up from 23% during the pandemic, when participation was constrained by lockdown and social distancing rules.

While 96% of responding companies offered company-organised volunteering initiatives and these had the highest employee participation rate at 42%, these activities were the least liked by NPOs, who preferred initiatives involving funding such as give-as-you-earn programmes and fundraising drives.

Companies reported that 27% employees participated in volunteering-matched funding (where volunteering done in employee’s own time is matched financially with a donation by the company) and 17% took advantage of time off to volunteer during work hours. Sixty-four percent of companies offered employees time off to volunteer during work hours, with most offering one day per year.

The causes most supported by volunteers reflect the top areas supported by companies through their corporate social investment efforts. Sixty- three percent of employee volunteers supported organisations in the broad social and community development sector, which includes orphans and vulnerable children and general youth programmes, 34% supported education programmes, and 19% supported food security and agriculture causes.

The most common form of volunteering involved time spent working with the end beneficiaries of NPOs (40%), followed by time spent providing other services (35%) and manual labour (33%). 


Survey methodology 

The primary survey data was collected from companies between May and August 2023 by professional researchers who conducted interviews with CSI representatives from large South African companies. There were 68 participating companies. The surveyed companies were large, with more than two-thirds (69%) having an annual income of over R1 billion in their latest financial year and 40% having an income of over R10 billion.

Research with company employees was conducted in June and July 2023 using the online survey tool Qualtrics. There were 600 participating employees from nine companies. Over two-thirds (67%) of the respondents were women, and two-thirds (66%) were between the ages of 31 and 50 years.

About the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook is South Africa’s premier publication on corporate social investment (CSI) and responsible business. The 26th edition focuses on the future as we explore trends in responsible business and corporate social investment (CSI), the role of technology in development and the future of the non-profit sector.

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2023 can be downloaded for free at

About Trialogue

Trialogue is a niche corporate responsibility consultancy with more than two decades of

industry research and experience. The company provides consulting and thought leadership services to clients in sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI).