To better understand the interface between the private sector and volunteerism and to prepare the ground for effective collaboration with the private sector, the United Nations Volunteers programme has published a research project entitled "Enhancing Business-Community Relations" in partnership with the New Academy of Business, the United Nations Development Programme and partners in seven countries: Brazil, Ghana, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines and South Africa.
The report recognizes volunteerism as an important component of general corporate citizenship, particularly with respect to companies working at the local level to help meet development goals. Such activities are consistent with the goal of the Global Compact in facilitating partnerships and multistakeholder engagement. In addition, as the United Nations Volunteers observes: "The Global Compact provides an overall value framework for cooperation".
"Many businesses are becoming interested in supporting development through volunteer initiatives rooted in a sense of global solidarity", the report states. That said, the report offers some key findings to help volunteering programmes to be more effective. Specifically:
• Business strategists often advocate the need for corporate independence and control, whilst those operating in the community place a priority on collaborative engagement.
• In their interactions, even during "small-scale" meetings and conversations, businesses and communities should better appreciate their interdependence.
• Participating employees need greater organizational support and backup.
"I believe this report makes an important contribution to the understanding and practices of responsible corporate citizenship", said Georg Kell, Executive Head of the Global Compact. "It also shows that the United Nations and its various agencies are up to the task of learning how to work with business to make progress on our common challenges, including poverty alleviation".
The report contains seven case studies from the respective countries involved in the initiative.