Development Crossing

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

Is there data to support the effectiveness of Employee Volunteer Programs?

There is a big difference between data that supports a hypothesis and data that measures perceptions about the likelihood of a hypothesis. When discussing CSR and Employee Volunteer Programs, many organizations tend to conduct surveys asking questions such as 'are you more likely to buy products from a corporation with a strong CSR value?' The answer (not surprisingly) is 'um....yes'. We answer 'yes' to that question because it is the right answer, and we believe it to be true about ourselves.


The survey is not substantial evidence of whether the hypothesis is actually true. It is only a survey of popular perceptions of societal values and morality. Meaning, we will often say one thing, and do quite the opposite. I support a society of law and order, but will speed if the situation demands it
(ok, demands helps me justify my law-breaking ways). I support food products that are not cruel to animals, but if it is very good sale, I may not inquire too much about the origins of the chicken. You know exactly what I mean.

So, when Deloitte conducted a study about the value of skills training and volunteerism, they only measured people's opinions and perceptions. This is important information, but it is not undeniable hard data. There is still no data out there that ties EVP programs to actual capacity enhancement or bottom line profit for a business.

For the type of study it is, the IMPACT Survey is useful.
Skills-based volunteerism: An unexpected tool for training and development As corporate America deals with a shaky economy, human resource professionals are facing intense pressure to develop powerful, cost-effective training and development programs that quickly prepare the next generation of business leaders. New research from Deloitte suggests that corporations may find a solution in an unlikely place – their corporate volunteer program.
The study further finds that
“91 percent of survey respondents agree that skills-based volunteering would add value to training and development programs, but only 16 percent of companies intentionally offer skills-based volunteer opportunities for employee development, on a regular basis.” Read the rest of the report....

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Comment by Andrew on September 27, 2008 at 6:26am

I can relate to your viewpoint in relation to this matter. These types of surveys tell us about intended behavior, not actual behavior. Or alternatively, they tell us about perceptions, not actual outcomes or results.

Your question - "Where is the data?" is a very good question. Whilst I cannot answer the question in relation to the issue of employee volunteer programs, I can shed some light on this topic in relation to the other issue you raise - the relationship between corporate social responsibility and actual consumer purchasing behavior.

In short - reliable data on this matter is extremely difficult to find. A few months ago, I undertook some research on the internet for a post on my blog in relation to the question of whether actual consumer purchasing behavior matched the stated intention of consumers in relation to the purchase of 'ethical' products or services. I found that information relating to actual purchasing behavior in relation to this matter was sketchy and very difficult to find.

You may be interested to hear that the available information indicates that indeed actual purchasing behavior does not appear to match stated consumer intentions, and that the relationship between corporate ethical practices and consumer purchasing decisions does not appear to particularly strong. In England, for example, The Co-Operative Bank estimates that purchases of 'ethical products' accounted for only approximately five per cent of total household expenditure, and according to Devinney, a prominent researcher, Fairtrade products rarely account for more than two per cent of any market in which they operate.

(For more discussion on this topic, see my post on the subject at


Comment by Andrew on September 27, 2008 at 6:30am
Sorry Chris,

I think I made a mistake in the link above. I'm not very good with technical issues like that.

Anyhow, the address mentioned above is as follows:


Comment by Development Crossing on September 27, 2008 at 7:25am
Just wanted to make your link live for easier access:

For future reference, highlight the text you want to link, then click on the chain link image and paste the URL.
Comment by Andrew on September 27, 2008 at 8:52am
Thanks. Will do.


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