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Corporate Volunteering in India – My Project Overview

In Marketing Wallah on January 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Before I left the UK, Dean’s COO asked me to set up a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme based in the Indian office. I remember being very excited; it sounded ideal; it was paid, part-time work, within the sphere of community contribution, with a marketing slant.

The project was and continues to be championed by the CEO and Dean: I consider myself fortunate in being associated with a company who, despite having an expat staff of one and no clearly defined policy on the issue, have always managed to have some understanding of my needs, including my need to work. I am reliably informed that many larger companies don’t.

I was employed on a consultancy basis so part of my brief was to help define the project. It was a corporate volunteering programme. My role included project set-up; recruiting the volunteers, letting them choose a local NGO and getting the NGO to manage them. I was also responsible for meeting a set of objectives, defined in terms of adding value to the organisation and the brand.

Easier said than done? … Definitely, yes!

My biggest challenge was defining the work of the volunteers. The NGO didn’t have the capacity to do this so I filled the gap: I planned the launch of an on-line shop, I wrote English lessons and I prepared a three day career development course.  This was far from ideal as I had to commit much more time to the project than originally anticipated. It also meant that marketing activity fell by the wayside. It has only recently gathered momentum.

After about 6 months, I managed to end up with one very successful model of corporate volunteering: For three weekends out of every four, staff volunteers visit a school in a deprived part of Gurgaon to teach English to a bunch of lovely children. It seems very likely that the difficult project set-up will be worth it in terms of the quality of marketing output, particularly, the involvement of the staff and the positive impact it has on them, and the excellent publicity and clear fundraising focus that comes from working with such a worthy cause.

The role has contributed greatly to my marketing experience. I’ve gained additional insight into consultancy. I’ve been reminded of the challenges of project management and partnership working. I’ve written a quantitative survey and collated the results. I’ve carried out a cost / benefit analysis of the programme. I’ve written internal and external communications. Overarching all these individual achievements is a real shift in the way I think, from project management to value creation; I have become a marketer.