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Volunteering for Nation Building

10 Jan 2020

Studies have shown that volunteering and pro bono activities positively impact an organization. They enhance employee loyalty, create team-building opportunities, increase cross-department and management interaction and reduce employee turnover. 90 percent of Fortune 500 HR managers in a survey said that volunteering is an effective way to develop leadership skills.

Studies have also shown that most millennials consider an organization’s commitment to the community while deciding on job offers. Given that India is a young country, such data is heartening for the nation. A socially-conscious workforce is an asset and it is incumbent on all stakeholders to do what they can to nurture it.

Industry can encourage employees to connect with the community by building a culture of pro bono within the organization. In fact, I think pro bono can be an excellent solution to a larger problem facing the development sector today – the problem of plenty. India has a significant number of non-profits working at the grassroot level. Thanks to the changes made to the Companies Act, there is now a significant amount of CSR funds coming their way. In 2017-18 alone, according to the CII CESD Annual CSR Tracker, corporates deployed Rs 8,876 crore for their social initiatives. The figure will likely increase in the years to come.

However, this extremely positive development runs the risk of being a lost opportunity.

While NGOs now have more funds to pursue their goals, they lack the ability to utilize them effectively. Skill gaps affect their ability to deliver programmes with efficiency. Businesses take for granted skills and processes related to marketing, communication, HR and finance. Most non-profits need help in these areas. NGOs are often the last mile connect in service delivery to the marginalized; if they are helped to deliver better, they could catalyse transformative changes in society.

One way to help them access niche skills is to connect them with professionals who wish to volunteer their professional skills. In India, pro bono volunteering or skills-based volunteering is estimated to be an opportunity that can easily deliver value to non-profits in excess of $10 billion a year by 2022, according to an estimate by CII’s India@75 campaign.

Pro bono is a win-win solution for all stakeholders. It serves professionals who want to give back to society, it helps organizations build the culture of social responsibility and in the final analysis, it serves the beneficiaries for whom all this is intended in the first place.

India is home to one of the largest upwardly mobile young populations in the world – it also houses the largest population of poor in the world. With a shared zeal to give back to society, non-profits and corporate volunteers are well-positioned to address the challenges that lie ahead and lead India towards a more developed and equitable future.

India@75 is an initiative of CII targeted at bringing together diverse stakeholders in a mission to catalyse India’s development by 2022. The movement, being run since 2009, has an organized mobilizing mechanism in the form of its National Volunteering Grid and National Volunteering Week (January 18-24 every year). The former is an online platform that connects volunteers to causes and NGOs. The latter brings together multiple stakeholders to connect and collaborate for a better nation.

With NVW now entering its 7th year, it has been an inspiring journey for CII’s mission of India@75. In 2020, it promises to be doubly meaningful and impactful as CII is celebrating 125 as an institution engaged deeply in nation building.

NVW through the years has wholeheartedly strived towards aggregating the ongoing efforts of different stakeholders and facilitating synergy and alignment to augment government initiatives, by ensuring impactful delivery of the various social developmental initiatives and schemes at the grassroots.

What started in January 2014 as a pilot run,  has grown into a larger movement, not only in terms of scale but also in terms of sensitisation, awareness and acceptance of volunteering being one of the key enablers of development. Volunteers under the program have worked in areas such as education, healthcare, rural development, and mobilisation and information dissemination, with communities and disadvantaged sections of society across the country.

This year, too, thousands of Indians will come together to do their bit for society during NVW. Carrying forward the success of 2,648,016 volunteering hours that have been generated since the Week was instituted under the “I for India” theme in 2014, the focus in 2020 would be building a clean and healthy environment, in line with the CII@125 agenda of engaging with the community.

With yet another successful week of raising awareness and generating productive volunteering hours, India@75 would bring together industry and society for realizing the vision of an India of economic strength, technological vitality and moral leadership that can be a beacon for the world. Do join this massive movement!