Harnessing the Potential of Corporate Volunteering

By María Jesús Pérez and Silvia Loro, CODESPA Foundation

Harnessing the Potential of Corporate Volunteering

In 2001, CODESPA developed the Global Corporate Volunteering (CV) programme “Professionals for Development”. After more than 10 years of experience, CODESPA wants to share the main learning outcomes of this initiative, in which almost 150 employees of companies such as PwC, Carrefour or Canal de Isabel II, among others, have participated. These employees have contributed their professional skills to improve the quality of life of thousands of people who work with CODESPA.

The programme has a two-fold objective: to involve enterprises and employees in the fight against poverty; and to generate awareness among the rest of the organisation and society as a whole of the problems faced by developing countries, and how their potential solutions are within the reach of any enterprise.

After 10 years of implementing the programme and numerous enterprises and volunteers taking part, the project has been revised by The Boston Consulting Group, with a view to maximising its impact as it brings together the values and objectives of enterprises, employees, local communities, and CODESPA. The pro-bono collaboration of The Boston Consulting Group has provided a full revision of the programme’s procedures and the roles of each party involved. The goal was to systemise and formalise the process that has been developed, and to identify the key factors that guarantee the success of these kind of initiatives.

Global CV: Characteristics, Benefits and Potential

Global CV is a type of volunteering that is promoted from within enterprises and their employees and implemented in developing areas, with the intention of improving the quality of life of impoverished communities. These initiatives are one of the best tools for transferring to these zones the technical and professional knowledge of enterprises’ and their professionals, whilst at the same time, reinforcing the values of the enterprise, employee skills development, and integrating employee’s contribution and participation in enterprises’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Unlike other types of volunteering, Global CV is characterised by several specific elements:

Professional volunteering. The activities of the volunteer are directly related to his/her knowledge and professional experience, aimed at promoting the transference of knowledge and capacities.

Length of the volunteer’s intervention and greater investment per person. In order to guarantee that the employee’s volunteering produces a greater impact, the action’s length has to be no less than two weeks. For this reason, in the cases in which volunteers have to travel, investment per employee is relatively higher in comparison with other kinds of CV.

Company’s commitment to the eradication of poverty. The companies which incorporate these programmes have evolved towards the establishment of a comprehensive and permanent commitment to with the development of impoverished zones.

Volunteering with a high level of training and awareness. The employees involved in this initiative are volunteers with a high commitment, trained to face reality and the context of poverty in which they will implement their action.

Communication and coordination between the different social actors and people is required. Communication and coordination are key among the parties involved, wich are people and organisations whose profile and view of reality is highly diverse but who will be working together toward the same objectives.

4 Phases of implementing Global CV initiatives

The model we have produced consists of four phases that describe the path to follow to guarantee good management of a Global CV project. Next, we describe the steps involved in each of these four phases and mention critical factors to be taken into account to maximise the impacts and benefits that Global CV can generate for all parties involved.

Each phase covers several groups of activities and tasks that constitute the main pillars of the process. This path is detailed in the Handbook and business cases on Global Corporate Volunteering. A str… (page 85).


In this phase, the potential of the Global CV programme is defined and its coherence with the strategy, profile and policies of the company is determined.


This is the phase in which the specific objectives of the project are aligned and specified. Six activity blocks are identified primarily mainly aimed at formalising agreements and preparing the necessary resources, both material and human, in order to carry out the project.


In this phase, the different parts work to achieve the objectives established in the identification and preparation phases. The local partner and members of the facilitating organisation working in the country adopt a more active and direct involvement with the volunteers.


This is the phase in which the project is assessed. The facilitating organisation is responsible for the coordination and leadership of the process. For the company, it is the moment to focus on the implementation of the external communication plan.

Editor’s Note:

More Information

Guide for the implementation of a Global Corporate Volunteering programme, 2010, CODESPA

With the pro-bono support of The Boston Consulting Group, CODESPA has developed a “Guide for the implementation of a Global Corporate Volunteering programme” in which more information is presented on this type of initiatives and their implementation process; detailing the activities involved, highlighting the key success factors, emphasizing good practices, and including work template and tools to support and guide step by step the implementation of Global CV programmes. Part of this Guide is included in the Handbook and business cases on Global Corporate Volunteering. A strategic tool for business and development [free download here],


CODESPA Foundation is a non-profit organisation which has been working for 25 years in international cooperation for development. Codespa trusts in the human capacity for building a more equal and fair world by providing opportunities to people so that, through their work, they can develop their capacities and be the protagonists of their own development. CODESPA has managed around 730 projects in 33 countries of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and has contributed to the improvement of life conditions of millions of people. It currently has 16 national and international delegations. Its President of Honour is His Royal Highness, the Prince of Asturias.

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