How UK universities engage with their local communities: a study of employer supported volunteering

Helen Bussell, Deborah Forbes

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In 2000 the UK Prime Minister pledged that employers should be encouraged to release staff for one day a year to undertake volunteering activity. Many and varied programmes are being set up to assist employees to volunteer, whether during work hours or in their own time. This is called employer supported volunteering (ESV). This paper discusses the increasing use of ESV and aims to provide an understanding of the key concepts of this phenomenon. An email survey was completed of all 122 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. University websites linked to volunteering for staff and students were also examined. Responses were received from 65 institutions (a response rate of 53%). This initial research reveals that university commitment to ESV varies across the sector. Many universities support staff volunteering and informally encourage links with the local community through voluntary activity but only seven institutions had developed a formal policy allowing staff time off work to volunteer. From this initial research, three best practice universities have emerged and their activities are discussed. The next stage in this project is to research the areas identified and to explore the extent of volunteering by university staff and staff attitudes to volunteering with a view to providing a full picture of ESV in the UK university sector
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-378
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


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