9 Ways to Pilot an International Volunteering Program at Your Company

Mark Horoszowski

Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org, as well as an adjunct lecturer on Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of Washington Tacoma's Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility.

Image of corporate volunteering experteering in Kenya

Companies are sending their employees to volunteer overseas in greater and greater volume as they are proven to make a positive impact, develop global leaders, and provide a bottom-line impact.

While some businesses do it for CSR reasons, many more are funding it because of its transformative impact on developing leaders, fueling innovation, and engaging and retaining top talent.

At MovingWorlds we hear more and more companies asking, “how can I start a program like this at my company?”. The benefits to starting a program are resounding, and they can be easy to pilot.

 

Here are some sample programs we find ourselves suggesting the most often:

1. Sponsor an Experteering trip as part of your tuition reimbursement program

Many companies offer employees tuition reimbursement programs for MBAs. The average cost of an MBA is $80,000. Adding a couple thousand to cover travel expenses for your employee to go Experteering is a drop in the bucket, and sure to build extra employee loyalty while also creating great stories to help recruit and retain talent.

Impact-of-Experteering-leadership-for-business-retention

2. Sponsor employees who use their own vacation time

Some companies pay their employees a bonus to take vacation because the benefits of taking time off are resounding. If companies can pay their employees to take extra vacation, then they can easily cover Experteering and travel fees, while maybe providing a few extra days out of the office justified as learning and development time.

 

3. A “social” sabbatical

Many companies offer a sabbatical, and even if a company does not have a form program there are ways to ask for one. In either case, using time off to make the world a better place and learn new skills in the process is a great way to use time away from the office. In addition to being an enriching experience for the Experteer, insights and skills developed while on sabbatical will help the business, too.

 

4. Extending and diversifying learning & development programs

People that go Experteering on employer-sponsored trips frequently credit them as the highlight of their career. In fact, international volunteering programs are considered the “New Executive Training Ground. For a fraction of the cost of most leadership programs, employees can go Experteering, develop global leadership skills, contribute to the greater good, and develop valuable brand-enhancement stories for the company (like this one).

Experteering-skills-learned - condensed

 

5. Leveraging sponsored volunteer hour programs

Many great companies, like Salesforce and Timberland, give employees time off to volunteer, some even offering a day per month. Many more companies even have a “dollars for doers” program. With so many resources being allocated to help people volunteer, people lucky enough to work at one of these companies you can work with their managers and/or HR to save up time for one concentrated Experteering project overseas.

 

6. Enhancing and diversifying continuing education

Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of providing continuing education opportunities to their employees, many to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Providing a new experiential learning program that offers a valuable stretch experience can create an enriching experience for a fraction of the cost.

Skill-development-Experteering

7. Adding value to a corporate alumni network

Most big companies have an alumni network, and Conenza and Reid Hoffman highlight the business benefits of having one. To maintain goodwill with alumni, companies can help their alumni go Experteering by connecting them to projects, sponsoring trips, and/or promoting stories to their network.

 

 

8. Team building and engagement

Especially at large companies, most business units have a budget for team building and/or engagement initiatives. Many don’t spend it, or if they do, it’s often spent incentives or parties. Regardless, the $720 Million being spent annually on this is not making an impact. When companies sponsor Experteering programs, they are proven to drive retention and engagement.

Impact-of-Experteering-engagement

 

9. Enriching incentive and recognition programs

As the workforce becomes increasingly focused on social and environmental causes, the way that companies incentivize and reward behavior will shift to take these into consideration. While some people will prefer their margarita drinking trip to Mexico, others will relish the opportunity to use their time to help make the world a better place while growing as a leader.

 


 

For more about the transformative power of Experteering, while on your own or through a corporate-sponsored program, I invite you to check out MovingWorlds.org and connect with me on LinkedIn.

And if you have  more ideas or success stories about ways that companies can incorporate international skills-based volunteering, let me know in the comments below!

 

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