To assist corporate responsibility practitioners as they help international employees give back to their communities, Silicon Valley Community Foundation has produced a report offering practical advice for establishing successful programs in five countries – but the lessons can be applied to other locations as well.

“As we know from working with a growing list of companies that have global operations, when companies try to expand their charitable programs around the world, it can be a complex and daunting task,” said Emmett Carson, CEO and president of SVCF. “This report provides much-needed insight that will help global corporate responsibility practitioners be more efficient and effective from the outset.”

To create the Global Employee Engagement Report, SVCF conducted in-depth interviews with 65 corporate practitioners and nonprofit organizations dedicated to promoting employee engagement, as well as completed a review of existing literature on the topic. Research focused on five countries: Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Among the practical information that experts shared with researchers:

–   Company leaders in Brazil expect their employee engagement programs to add real community value, and may react negatively if they perceive that a program is being rolled out strictly for PR purposes.

–    In China, many companies conduct volunteer projects with “social enterprises,” which are registered as for-profit businesses but operate much like nonprofit organizations. These organizations tend to have less bureaucracy than government-organized nonprofit organizations.

–   In India, the visibility of leaders in employee engagement programs is absolutely vital to success. An email, social media post or appearance from a senior leader will signal approval for lower-level employees to engage in the program.

The five countries studied were chosen for two reasons. First, many companies – including many that partner with SVCF to meet their social responsibility objectives – are interested in expanding their employee engagement programs in these countries. Secondly, these are countries in which cultural or legal landscapes evoke uncertainty, fear or confusion about the customization needed to ensure that a program can succeed locally.

“We embarked on this research to uncover country-specific do’s and don’ts, cultural norms and resources for employee engagement efforts,” said Wen-Chih O’Connell, director of corporate responsibility for SVCF, who led the project. “We hope this research will help position companies for success when they launch their programs internationally.”

Although the report focuses on five specific countries, the topics it addresses – including gauging the landscape of nonprofit organizations, learning about legal and public policy issues surrounding volunteerism, etc. – provide a useful framework for practitioners seeking to develop employee engagement activities in other countries as well.


About Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Silicon Valley Community Foundation makes all forms of philanthropy more powerful. We serve as a catalyst and leader for innovative solutions to our region’s most challenging problems, and through our donors we award more money to charities than any other community foundation in the United States. SVCF has $6.5 billion in assets under management. As Silicon Valley’s center of philanthropy, we provide thousands of individuals, families and corporations with simple and effective ways to give locally and around the world. Find out more at

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