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What Are The Elements Of A Good Corporate Nonprofit Partnership Around Employee Engagement?

Submitted by: Robin Boggs

Posted: Mar 05, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: Innovative Employee Engagement

Tags: corporate citizenship, employee engagement, volunteerism


At Accenture our employees are an important part of our Corporate Citizenship initiatives. Our approach is to evaluate every nonprofit partnership opportunity for the appropriate balance of investment between our financial and human resources. What we’ve heard is that the time and skills of our people often are valued more by the recipient organization than our cash, though certainly financial support is also appreciated and often necessary! Accenture looks for two ways our people can engage in any partnership:

  •  Pro bono projects with defined scope, milestones and deliverables where our people contribute during work hours

  •  Volunteering (general or skilled) through which our people contribute on their own time

We collaborate with our nonprofit partners to determine which type of Accenture employee engagement is appropriate for the need. The variables we consider when deciding whether pro bono or volunteering will be the best fit are scope, available capacity, criticality to the nonprofit’s operations and timeframe for delivery. Whichever route we choose, I see 5 key elements that have proven important in successful partnerships around employee engagement: 

1.    Leadership: Each partner in the program must have a respected leader to scope and manage the relationship and participation of its people.  An enthusiastic, dedicated pro bono sponsor working with a nonprofit executive is a key factor in our being successful. These leaders believe in the value of the partnership and can bring the right resources to make it thrive.

2.    Clear Expectations: We spend a lot of time with new nonprofit partners making sure that we understand what the organization is trying to accomplish and communicating what difference Accenture is seeking to make in the communities where our people live and work. What is the goal of the partnership? What is expected to be delivered through a project or event? What experience does the company expect for its employees? What experience does that nonprofit seek for its clients?

3.   Sufficient Financial Resources: Volunteering in their own time might be free for the employee, but it costs nonprofits real money to create opportunities for people to engage, particularly for large-scale and custom events. Organizations that can articulate those costs are more likely to receive the appropriate level of cash funding to deliver the project.

4.    Impact: Employees need to understand what difference their participation in a project will make for the nonprofit organization and for the company. Accenture shares how a project will contribute to our goals around Skills to Succeed. Our nonprofits talk about how the projects improve their ability to deliver services and pass on the stories of personal impact from their beneficiaries.

5.    Opportunity: Employees must feel empowered to contribute and to identify new ways to contribute to the partnership. Meanwhile, leaders must remain open-minded and find creative ways for employees to contribute their time and talents.

One of the best examples we have of a partnership with a robust employee engagement program is with KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program). KIPP is a national network of open-enrollment, college preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. KIPP was founded in Houston in 1994, and has grown to 162 schools grades pre-K-12 serving over 59,000 students, 85 percent of whom are low income.  KIPP also supports their alumni with their KIPP Through College (KTC) program, where college counselors provide support and guidance to KIPP alumni as the progress to and through college. KIPP’s college completion rate is above the national average for all students and five times the rate for students of similar economic backgrounds.  

In fiscal 2013, Accenture and the Accenture Foundations awarded KIPP a grant of $3.3 million, plus an additional $1.9 million in pro bono work, to help young adults in underserved communities transition from secondary education to higher education and employment. The three-year grant supports the expansion of the Future Focus program, a college and career readiness program created by Accenture and KIPP, to deliver skills training, mentoring and internships to nearly 7,000 students across the KIPP network. The program has been rolled out in nine cities across the United States. The KIPP-Accenture partnership is multi-faceted, and our employee engagement is similarly robust and diverse. Accenture people are:

  • Partnering with nine local KIPP regions to establish the Future Focus curriculum and identify internship opportunities

  • Volunteering to deliver the Future Focus curriculum during the school year

  • Serving as mentors for 67 KIPP students engaged in paid summer internships in various areas of our business

  • Creating campaigns to raise money for special needs, such as back-to-school supplies

  • Producing a quarterly update on KIPP-Accenture news and volunteer opportunities

  • Volunteering their time on skills-based projects related to strategic planning, IT operations, and other topics

  • Supporting KIPP alumni to help them persist and succeed in college and in their pursuit of careers 

The KIPP-Accenture partnership started with strong national leadership who in turn recruited dedicated executive sponsors in each of the cities where Future Focus is implemented.  Accenture and KIPP have defined goals and commitments, so each organization knows what it is expected to contribute to the partnership to ensure its success. As noted above, Accenture invested significant funds to launch Future Focus, and our people give tremendous value through their own time and effort. Employees get close to KIPPsters and see the impact that the program and their personal engagement has on the students. They’re excited to identify creative ways to support the students, with the assistance of KIPP and Accenture.

To learn more about Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiatives in the United States, visit www.

Join Robin at the Charities@Work Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship Summit being held March 23-25 in New York. To learn more or to register click here Summit Information

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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