Have you considered Employer Supported Mentoring?

Reflections on the Volunteer Canada Leading with Intention report

Volunteer Canada recently put out a report Leading with Intention: Employer Supported Volunteering in Canada which is a must-read for mentoring agencies interested in building partnerships with businesses in your community. You can download the document here.
While many mentoring organizations often look to corporations for friendraising and fundraising, Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) is a great way to bring new mentors into your agency, especially those with specialized skills.
Later this month, the Alberta Mentoring Partnership will be releasing our two-part toolkit on Corporate Mentor Recruitment. Part A are resources for your agency to identify, approach and partner with businesses to recruit employee volunteer mentors. Part B are resources to be provided to your corporate champion to run a mentor recruitment campaign in their organization.
The timing couldn’t be better to read this report on ESV and the great opportunities to position mentoring as a natural partnership for businesses in our communities!
Volunteer Canada notes:

ESV activities and programs exemplify a new “shared value” approach. They help businesses strengthen community relationships and improve employee engagement. They also give non-profits access to new resources and skills while allowing employees to renew and enhance their skills and expand their networks
Interest in employee volunteering is widespread among both large and small employers. For example, a 2005 national survey of 990 businesses found that almost three quarters (71%) either encourage or accommodate employee volunteer activities.

But this isn’t just the major companies and the big household companies:

Small and Medium Enterprises are also interested in the potential financial benefits of volunteering for their businesses, including improved stakeholder relationships, staff recruitment and retention and customer loyalty.
Many of the underlying factors driving take-up of CSR and ESV policies (and the potential benefits) are not necessarily different between SMEs and Large Enterprises (LEs); rather, the differences lie in emphasis, scale and language.

Further, they noted that more resources are needed to support volunteering as many of the small and medium enterprizes. (This is where your agency and the resources in Toolkit Part B are useful!)                           

Because SMEs are covering business tasks with fewer staff, they have less time and fewer resources to dedicate to community engagement. SMEs interviewed for this study all stressed the dif culty of allotting company time and resources for community investment activities.
The literature identifies additional barriers for SMEs, including a lack of awareness about the bene ts of community engagement, the potential bene ts for SMEs specifically and the specific opportunities among community organizations.

ESV is not without challenges (as outlined in the report), but overall should be considered as a key component of your fundraising and friendraising efforts.


The conclusion of the report is worth reflecting on in its entirety.

Over the past decade, employer-supported volunteering has moved from being an exceptional initiative to a mainstream practice among today’s employers. Through times when companies were doing more with less, many found innovative ways to engage employees and support communities. In the process, these programs have created a strong foundation for the future – setting in place employer-supported volunteering programs that are helping to advance community goals and create vibrant, productive and caring workplaces.
The diversity of the ESV programming highlighted in this book speaks to the realities of volunteering today. There has been a great deal of change over the years with respect to the expectations of employee volunteers and the organizations with whom they partner. For their part, employees are seeking short-term, well intended and structured opportunities where they can learn new skills and make a valuable contribution. They are interested in working for companies that see the connection between their own activities and the health and well-being of the community. They are also being proactive with respect to community investment and sustainable business practices.
Community organizations in turn are eager to access and leverage the skills and talents of volunteers in the support of their mission. This is an important resource in the face of persistent community demand and an increasingly competitive funding landscape. Organizations are aware that they need to have well-organized volunteering programs that can identify the type of volunteers they need, as well as provide the necessary supports to create long-term, meaningful relationships. Building connections with corporate partners through volunteering, in-kind donations, sponsorship and the like promises significant benefits for employees, companies and community.
The challenge lies in the ability of community leaders and employers to effectively adapt and bridge the gap between what employees and companies are looking for, and what organizations need and are able to offer.
The employer-supported volunteering programs and activities highlighted here are bridging this gap. They provide evidence of what strong cross- sector partnerships can produce, and the change they can make with every meal served, homework club hosted, dollar raised, mentoring program established, or shoreline cleared of garbage. They further reinforce the message that a diversity of strategies is best in meeting the range of realities, expectations, goals and needs in communities across the country. Together, these exemplary practices are helping to drive innovation and build excellence throughout the whole of the volunteering community.

Thanks to our friends at @Alberta’sPromise for passing over this thought-provoking report.

And just incase you needed a quick reminder of some of the key messages about why Mentoring is an evidence-based, high-impact strategy to build our community, sneak in a few of these from Big Brothers and Big Sisters Canada (who get a shout-out here because September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month in Canada)


As a national movement, Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to celebrate and showcase the power and impact of mentoring during Big Brothers Big Sisters Month (September) and Big Brothers Big Sisters Day (Sunday, September 18). – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

Mentoring has an impact

  • Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic benefits
  • Mentoring helps further education, accelerate engagement, promote healthy lifestyles, and
  • ultimately break the cycle of poverty, violence and drugs
  • Research demonstrates mentoring leads to significant reductions in risky behaviour,
  • violence, bullying, drug and alcohol use as well as significant increases in civic engagement, positive mental health and academic achievement
  • Mentors positively guide youth
  • A mentor who encourages smart daily behaviours – finishing homework, having healthy social interactions, and saying no when it counts – has a noticeable influence on a young person’s growth and success
  • 98% of adults who were mentored believe they now make good life decisions: they are 17% more likely to be employed, they earn $315,000 more income over their lifetime and 96% say they are happy
  • Young adults who had mentors as kids are paying it forward, they are 50% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities and 13% more likely to donate to charity

Students who have mentors are more likely to stay in school

  • Students with mentors have better school attendance; students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely to skip a day of school
  • By sharing their own life experiences, mentors provide students with a clear vision of what their future could look like, encouraging further education
  • Young adults who had mentors as kids are 63% more likely to obtain post-secondary education

Mentoring relationships also benefit the mentor

  • The mentoring relationship can build better leadership, interpersonal, and people management skills in mentors
  • Through their volunteer work, the mentor’s professional network is extended
  • People who volunteer are happier, healthier and more satisfied with their lives

Thanks to our friends at @Alberta’sPromise for passing over this thought-provoking report.