Corporate Volunteering

This report takes a look at DAX 30 companies.

The role of companies in society has undergone a marked change in recent years. Companies’ sustainability efforts have become more strategic and ambitious, not least through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting. It is no longer a question of whether companies should assume a social responsibility beyond profit making, but rather how they can best contribute to society and to sustainable development generally. In some articles, companies have even been called the new ‘agents of global justice’,1 which well illustrates the high expectations placed on them.

When it comes to this development, employee volunteer engagement as part of corporate citizenship strategies is unquestionably a hot topic. Skills-based volunteering in particular – i.e. volunteering activities that involve employees using their professional skills for a charitable purpose – has received a lot of attention recently and was described not long ago by the Stanford Social Innovation Review as ‘the new executive training ground’.2

This report takes a look at corporate volunteering among DAX 30 companies. Our fi ndings follow a series of recent publications on the same subject (see e.g. UPJ 2018 and Stifterverband 2018) that review the current state of corporate volunteering in Germany. Building upon the results of these studies, we delve deeper by:

  • Gleaning in-depth insights from conversations with 25 of the DAX 30 companies
  • Employing a trimodal approach, which involves examining not only the company’s perspective but also the perspective of employees and non-profits
  • Critically scrutinising current developments at the companies and outlining points for further reflection

A distinctive feature of our report is that it is the product of a collaboration between two very different organisations. Despite our different backgrounds, we share a similar perspective on the issues of corporate responsibility in general and corporate volunteering in particular. By pooling our experience working with companies and our methodological expertise, we were able to develop a more in-depth understanding of corporate volunteering.

We hope that this report’s findings provide a basis for a critical discussion of the trend and help lead to constructive progress on the topic going forward. We consider this to be particularly important given the fact that companies in our society are more and more frequently supplying public goods, thereby raising questions about the legitimacy of such activities. In particular in light of the current challenges, not only in the area of ecological sustainability but also in terms of social cohesion, it is important that corporate engagement reaches its full potential, develops an awareness of its political dimension and reflects the preferences of stakeholders in a balanced way.

  • Prof Dr Laura Marie Edinger-Schons
    Holder of the Chair of Corporate Social Responsibiliy
    University of Mannheim
  • Michael Alberg-Seberich
    Managing Partner
    Wider Sense

We would like to thank everyone who made this study possible:

  • Prof. Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons and Michael Verbücheln from the Chair of Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of Mannheim for the good and exciting cooperation.
  • All employees who took part in our written survey, the non-profit organizations that took the time for discussions and the 25 DAX30 companies whose representatives were available for a detailed interview.
  • Annabelle Soeffing, whose research provided a deeper insights into the needs of non-profit organizations.
  • At the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) and Ziviz in the Stifterverband, who supported us in the development of the study.

Thank you very much for your time, your trust in us and the valuable input that formed the basis for this study.