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Today's Corporate Workplace Volunteering in Context

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In the post-Enron (or Tyco, WorldCom, IGA, etc) accounting-scandal era, corporate citizenship has taken on new meaning and relevance.  Boards of directors are suddenly on the hook as much for their company’s ethical performance as their financial results (as well they should be). Shareowners and regulators are newly vigilant.  And companies large and small are looking to polish the good-guy gloss on their activities in the marketplace.

Among the weapons at hand for many corporations is an expanding emphasis on workplace volunteering – the direct support of their employees’ community activity.  The workplace volunteer movement isn’t new.  Some large companies have been in the game for twenty years or more.  But with companies wanting to do more in the community, many nonprofits – the vehicle through which companies reach out to those in need – may be wary, concerned that the taint of profit-making motives could rub off on their mission-focused endeavors.

It needn’t be so. Nonprofits and companies can work (indeed, are working) productively together to the betterment of our communities.  All it takes is some understanding, and maybe even some TLC.  It also takes context.  What is motivating companies to enter the community arena? How might corporate citizenship imperatives help nonprofits gain from the resources available in the business sector?

David Warshaw, who toiled close to 30 years in the public relations/corporate citizenship arena for a huge company, has some decided opinions to share.