Nelson Mandela International Day 2012 boosts employee volunteering
For two years now, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has been meeting with a group of companies, namely Companies for Mandela Day, to discuss Nelson Mandela Day activities that can be incorporated into their employee volunteering programmes.
The companies concerned have managed to create a system which allows staff members to undertake community service throughout the year.
“These companies then use Mandela Day as a way to get increased numbers of staff involved, even if just for a short period of time. What the companies have found is that staff members that get involved in Mandela Day often continue to be involved in employee volunteering,” explains Nelson Mandela Day Coordinator Frank Meintjies. He adds that this is indicative of Mandela Day – it mobilises more people and at the same time encourages “changemakers” to make their good deeds ongoing and sustainable, “rather than just once off”.
At least 25 companies, on a national level, are part of the Companies for Mandela Day initiative, and in this way they enhance their employee volunteering programmes. “Quite a large portion of these companies have selected more than one charity, which includes children’s homes, schools, homes for the elderly, places of care and other community-based organisations that rely on the spirit of giving. The employee volunteers visit these organisations throughout the year and assist where they can through practical activities,” says Meintjies.
In some cases the participating companies have gone as far as involving their staff in payroll giving – every month an agreed amount is deducted from their salaries, which goes to the community organisations. In fact, it is often the case that the employees undertake their voluntary work at the same organisations that are beneficiaries of payroll giving.
“This is excellent for sustainability and Mandela Day gives a boost to this ongoing work, as well as bringing new employees into volunteering work,” comments Meintjies.
Linsey Sherman from Investec spoke at the launch event on 23 May on behalf of the Companies for Mandela Day, and explained how employee volunteering works, its benefits and underpinning values, and how Nelson Mandela Day has raised its profile.