Corporate Volunteering in the Global South

Kenn Allen and Monica Galiano


“Corporate volunteering is a dynamic, global force, driven by companies that want to make a significant difference to serious global and local problems.” That was the primary conclusion of the Global Corporate Volunteering Research Project (Allen, Galiano, & Hayes, 2011, p. 5) that the authors led for The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) in 2010-2011. That research was designed, first, to assess the “state of health” of corporate volunteering globally and in each region of the world and to identify the trends, challenges, and opportunities that are shaping it. Second, this project highlights how global companies organize and manage their volunteer efforts.

Since corporate volunteering was described as an identifiable field of activity worthy of study and discourse in the 1970s in the landmark Volunteers from the Workplace study (Allen, Chapin, Keller, & Hill, 1979), it has spread slowly but steadily from its point of origin, the United States, throughout the world. Most often, global companies have been the vehicle for that spread. Given the breadth of their reach, it is safe to say that some example of corporate volunteering likely can be found today in virtually every country in the world.

When led by global companies, volunteering typically is built on a common set of approaches, structures, and activities. For those companies, it is now generally recognized as a legitimate component of the broad areas of corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and employee engagement.

But there is another reality. As our 2011 research also concluded, “There are regional and cultural variations on how volunteering is understood and practiced that shape and adapt corporate volunteering to local realities.. ,.[E]ven in a globalized

K. Allen (*) • M. Galiano

International Association for Volunteer Effort, Washington, DC, USA e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

J. Butcher, C.J. Einolf (eds.), Perspectives on Volunteering, Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39899-0_5

world, there are regional and cultural differences in what people value, how they behave, what they consider appropriate and inappropriate. Those differences extend to the practice of volunteering” (Allen et al., 2011, p. 6).

This chapter explores corporate volunteering as it is practiced in the Global South, defined here as Africa, the Arab Nations, developing Asia, and Latin America. It is organized into three sections: an overview of corporate volunteering in the South, including a review of the state of practice in Africa, the Arab Nations, and developing Asia; an in-depth discussion of the Latin American experience which stands in stark contrast to the other regions; and closing observations and recommendations for future research and action.

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