Corporate Volunteering and Corporate Outreach crosses International boundaries. Corporate volunteers are pursuing meaningful projects across Asia.
Friends for Asia works with corporate groups and companies that are interested in supporting international communities by volunteering in Asia. We tailor corporate outreach programs to suit each company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) objectives and professional skill sets, creating and managing projects that are as beneficial to local communities in Asia as they are enriching to the corporate volunteers and organizations who work on them.
CECP, an organization that tracks corporate giving, released some new research results in 2013. The group was specifically interested in how corporate giving had evolved in the wake of the 2008 to 2009 global recession. CECP found that companies are striving for deeper impact both in terms of how much they give and in how they engage their employees.
Corporate volunteering – both at home and abroad – is one of the key ways that companies are engaging their employees. The Guardian newspaper picked up on the CECP study and highlighted the fact that some 70 percent of the companies surveyed offered employees paid volunteering opportunities when the study concluded in 2012. That’s up from roughly 50 percent before the recession.
Corporate outreach has come a long way in the past few years, to the extent that many companies are prepared to pay their employees to volunteer overseas. Few businesses would go to these lengths if they didn’t believe it benefited their bottom line, but that’s good news for everyone involved. Companies can make meaningful contributions through corporate outreach projects in Asia; communities around the world see an uptick in aid; and you, the volunteer, can add dynamic experience to your professional resume. There’s a strong chance that your company will even pay for your to volunteer in Asia.
How Corporate Volunteering Benefits the Company
Corporate social responsibility as a means of community engagement and positive publicity is nothing new. However, there is plenty more evidence that corporate outreach overseas is of direct benefit to the companies that arrange it. For example, a study conducted by Edelman, and Young & Rubicam found that nearly nine out of ten consumers (specifically in the UK) feel that businesses should consider their societal impact as strongly as their own business interests. Similarly, seven out of ten said they purchased from companies that held similar views to their own.
In the wake of the recession, many companies were forced to cut back on philanthropic giving. Leveraging their human resources potential is a shrewd way to offset these cuts while adding an enriching human dimension to the corporate giving initiative. Furthermore, some analysts have suggested that sponsoring volunteer projects serves to attract and retain high-quality employees. Many of the most talented employees out there are keen to work with companies that recognize their unique skills and leverage them for the greater good.
However, finding that unique fit is complicated. Friends for Asia has years of experience matching professionals with volunteer project sites in Asia. We partner with individuals and larger organizations to create meaningful opportunities for engagement across the continent. Arrange a corporate outreach project through FFA, and we’ll provide your participants with the following:
- Pre-departure information
- Accident injury insurance
- Cultural orientation, including an introduction to the local language
- Airport pick-up
- Accommodation for the duration of the project
- Transportation to and from project sites
With these fringe considerations taken care of, your group can focus on community involvement. This deepens the impact of the project for everyone. Local communities and villagers receive more attention from corporate volunteers. At the same time, employees enjoy higher levels of engagement.
Even more importantly, Friends for Asia works closely with each of our project sites, determining where and how corporate groups can achieve the greatest impact. We’ve seen lives changed on both sides of the arrangement, and we’re convinced that volunteering in Asia through one of our projects can be transformative for all parties involved
Employees Are Eager to Join Corporate Outreach Projects in Asia
Another recent research project that nearly half of all employees were more likely to stay with an employer that allowed them to donate their time or raise funds for a good cause. Roughly one in ten said they’d even accept a significant pay cut for the honor of working with a company that encourages charitable activities. British newspaper The Telegraph frames it bluntly:
More specifically, the article cited a survey that found that roughly half of all workers polled indicated that they were more likely to continue working with an employer that allows its workforce to raise funds for (or donate time to) charitable causes during working hours. Further to this, the survey also found that one in ten responders would actually take a “significant” pay cut just to work for a company that contributed more to charitable causes. In so many words, we operate in a world in which people care about the plights of others.
For all the hardship, strife and poverty at work in the world today, it’s evident that people really do want to make a difference. However, many feel that they don’t have the time to invest in charitable causes, while others simply don’t know where to begin. This is where a well-planned corporate outreach campaign comes into play.
For companies and organizations planning a volunteer initiative in Asia, it’s important to plan for success from the outset. Begin by broadly interpreting the company’s skill set, and be prepared to be flexible in terms of applying those skills to a particular project. Finally, spend some time setting criteria through which you can evaluate the experience.
Corporate Volunteer Opportunities in Asia
There are several reasons to consider joining volunteer projects in Asia as an avenue for corporate outreach. Consider the following:
- Many corporations in the West work directly with manufacturing and logistics companies in Asia, and participating in volunteer projects adds a human dimension to these relationships.
- Overseas volunteer projects for corporate contribute to a sense of global citizenship among participants.
- Joining forces with colleagues in foreign country is a powerful exercise in team building and ultimately serves to bolster morale in the workplace.
- Many FFA volunteer project sites are located at or near world-class holiday destinations, which means time spent working on a project can feel a lot like a vacation.
Companies are in an excellent position to provide volunteer opportunities for their employees. The professional networks maintained by the average corporation include a range of service providers: travel agencies, caterers, apparel companies and other service providers. Leveraging this business network allows the company to create truly meaningful and memorable opportunities for their workforce.
To that end, let’s take a look at some of the key locations where Friends for Asia organizes corporate outreach programs:
Corporate Volunteer Projects in Nepal
The opportunity to explore the Himalayas here in the cradle of Buddhism is attractive enough in and of itself. From an employee’s perspective, the chance to do this as part of an organized corporate initiative and for a good cause is practically unheard of. Needless to say, employers who arrange corporate volunteer projects in Nepal engender loyalty on behalf of their workforce and benefit from some spectacular PR-style photo-ops in the process.
Friends for Asia coordinates a variety of volunteer projects in Nepal. The following are among the best volunteer projects for volunteers:
- Teaching English in Nepali Schols
- Assisting medical teams through the rural Healthcare Project
- Administering Childcare at a Nepali orphanage
- Teaching Monks at a Buddhist monastery
- Promoting Women’s Empowerment through education and engagement
- Contributing to Environmental Awareness in the Himalayas
Corporate Volunteer Projects in Bali
Bali-bound corporate groups are going the envy their colleagues. This is one of the most idyllic island destinations on the planet—known for its sparkling beaches, Hindu traditions and terraced rice fields. Given its popularity as a tourist destination, Bali also offers five-star services, luxurious spas and a world-class diving scene.
On the surface, a trip to Bali is going to look and feel a lot like a holiday. Even so, this island paradise doubles as a collection of very real communities in a rapidly developing nation. Friends for Asia is forging relationships with organizations on the ground that are working to improve Balinese lives. These are the two major FFA volunteer projects in Bali:
Corporate Volunteer Projects in Thailand
Thailand has been a well-known tourist destination for decades, but its popularity has surged in recent years. It offers an ideal mix of development and rural charm, and FFA is involved in a diverse mix of projects here. We’ve deployed teams of medical students in internships with local hospitals, arranged opportunities to work with elephants in the rural north and supported several initiatives providing aide and assistance to children and orphans.
Corporate volunteering is such a success in Thailand due, in part, to the country’s extensive infrastructure. Corporate groups can live as humbly or as comfortably as they please here, and there’s plenty of flexibility in terms of post-project excursions and escapes. Volunteer opportunities in Thailand include the following:
- Working side-by-side with a mahout at an Elephant Camp
- Teaching English to novice Buddhist monks
- Volunteering at an International University for Monks
- Orphanage Volunteer Project
- Rural Schools Volunteer Project
- English Education Volunteer Project
- Building and Gardening at a Home for Single Mothers
Corporate Volunteer Projects in Vietnam
Dynamic and rapidly developing, Vietnam defies the third-world stereotypes foisted upon it after the American War. This is a high-octane visitor destination complete with graceful colonial districts, an eclectic mix of cultures and some of the most memorable natural scenery in Southeast Asia. Factor in the surprisingly tasty (and affordable) French cuisine, and you’ll wonder why it took you so long to visit Vietnam in the first place.
Corporate outreach projects are an ideal fit in Vietnam. The people of this country are resilient, and they’re bound and determined to overcome poverty and all its accompanying stigmas. To that end, volunteer work that visitors carry out here fits into a larger, dedicated framework. Volunteer in Vietnam, and your group will be making a very real contribution to efforts that are already under way. Consider the following volunteer projects in Vietnam:
- Teaching English at a rural school in Vietnam
- English Teaching at an NGO project
- Working with children at a Temple Orphanage
- Offering relief to Victims of Agent Orange
- Affecting change through local NGOs
Skills-Based Volunteering in Asia
If your organization is in the early stages of scouting for possible CSR opportunities in Asia, take a step back and review the skill sets of your work force. Skills-based volunteering is a fast-developing concept taking root in many companies’ CSR initiatives. It hinges on the idea that your company’s team of employees brings special skills to the table on a daily basis. Not only this—they’re also accustomed to collaborating on projects.
Capitalizing on the skills and talents of your team is a powerful means of maximizing their impact for volunteer projects in Asia. Identifying these skills and putting them to use requires some lateral thinking. In some cases, the conclusions are obvious. For example, the company’s accounting team could offer valuable help with bookkeeping for an understaffed NGO in Vietnam. Likewise, the IT department may have a knack for teaching computer literacy to children. In all honesty, specialist knowledge in anything from logistics consulting to car maintenance can prove useful in the right situation. In some cases, valuable talents even arise from hobbies or prior experience.
Friends for Asia will help to find the right project to fit your team’s skills set. Given the breadth of volunteer opportunities we provide—everything from teaching English to working in conservation—it’s safe to say that we can put together a program that suits your team’s strengths while fulfilling the company’s corporate outreach objectives.
Taking a strong skills-based approach to volunteering in Asia accomplishes multiple goals. Not only do employees feel more engaged, they also end up honing their own skills and developing a more powerful professional resume. At the same time, they become acutely aware of social issues that are relevant to the industry and sector that they work with. Some even go on to become veritable ambassadors of volunteering abroad. They spread the word, and others volunteer because of them.
At the same, the communities in which they volunteer also enjoy greater benefits. Since the work being carried out matches the strengths and specialization of the team, there is greater potential for long-term, sustainable impact. Perhaps most importantly, there’s something transformative about the cross-culture dynamic of volunteering overseas. Perspectives broaden; stereotypes crumble; and the world becomes that much better of a place in the process. It’s a phenomenon that can happen to everyone involved, and it’s truly an amazing thing to witness.