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Are the Days of Community Social Responsibility and/or Volunteering Numbered?

I am not sure what David Cameron’s Big Society is about, I am not even sure that “Call me Dave” even knows, but if we are ALL going to get through the next couple of years, we all need to muck in within the community.

With the current economic climate, recently a number of organisations and individuals have asked, will I be changing my CSR policy with regards to my current volunteering responsibilities.

My answer to this is that while both Maximum Impact Solutions and I will not be taking on any further volunteering roles on, we will still be honouring our current commitments.

When Maximum Impact Solutions was set up, in 2001, we decided that we would always give something back to the community, by using our skills, knowledge and personal experiences to help others, at the grass root level, achieve, and we feel that now more than ever that we keep this commitment.

When I look back at my tough and challenging childhood, I remember that at key stages of my upbringing, that there was always one person who took a personal interest, to motivate, inspire and give me the confidence to reach my personal goals, and that if they had not done this, I doubt very much that I would be where I am now, and the kind of person I am today.

I am constantly being asked two questions:

  • How much time does volunteering take up? and
  • What do you get out of it?

In answer to question 1, all my volunteering roles takes up roughly 5 days a month.

With regards to question 2, the fact that you can make a difference to someone else’s life, by just taking the time to listen, mentor, challenge and/or sound board ideas, leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

In addition to this, one gets to meet and mix with other like minded individuals and organisations, which under normal circumstances would be out of one’s circles and/or networks, thus providing further opportunities, both personally and for business.

Last week, during a discussion, I heard that a number of councils were issuing compulsory redundancies within the North West area, and the topic of volunteering came up.

The following comments were made:

"Why would anyone want to volunteer?"

"What would motivate someone to work for nothing?"

"The only people that will be able to volunteer will be those that are retired"

"People cannot afford to volunteer, when they lose one income to the household"

Ironically all the comments and/or statements, put volunteering in a negative light, and they missed positive opportunities possible.

Volunteering gives one the opportunity to learn new skills, that might be out of the realm of one’s day to day job role, and provide you with an insight to other people’s existence that you may not be fully aware of.  It takes one out of one’s comfort zones, which makes for an interesting method of personal development.

I think it is a great shame if businesses and/or individuals stop volunteering, as this provides great opportunities, in more ways than one.  Maybe the days of just issuing a cheque have gone, but surely volunteering ones skills and knowledge, for a fixed amount of time per month pro bono, would go a whole lot further than a monthly contribution of £100? Plus this is great free PR for any organisation wishing to distinguish themselves from the competition

Last week I was privileged enough to be invited to the 2010 North West Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards.  It was great to see young people in a positive light, being showcased achieving great success, while overcoming great personal and social challenges.

It was this event, and other events like these, that remind me why it is important that both as a business and as an individual that we continue to volunteer within the community.


David Connor

Don't get me started on the other David C! The Big Society is going to be fun, and probably not good fun, but with admitted interesting opportunities for social improvement. There is always the question about CSR getting dropped when times get tough, and the answer is usually yes, by those who don't understand the agenda. If a business drops it's CSR commitment during a downturn they weren't engaging properly in the first place. This is nearly always a sign of the marketing driven superficial CSR attempts by mainstream business. Using CSR to improve business performance is always a good strategy, and like any good strategy will continually evolve. The Big Society will be an interesting public filter for those in the UK proclaiming their CSR credentials of late. I heard similar doom laden comments at the start of the global economic crisis, but that provided a boost for good CSR practice as shall the latest test of corporate character.


Hi David, Thank you for your comments, and I wholeheartily agree, w.r.t. the reasons why CSR maybe dropped by businesses.

The coming years are going to be very interesting.

I hope we get some clarity on what "The Big Society" really is, as in my opinion, it is not rocket science, so just make it simple so everyone knows and understands what it is!


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