Purposeful Conversations With Gerry Voon
5 December 2018 at 7:30 am
Ellie Nikakis from Vollie sits down with Gerry Voon of Deloitte to discuss the role of “online” in CSR, in the latest in our series of Purposeful Conversations with CSR professionals.
Having been with Deloitte since 2007, director of responsible business Gerry Voon has had an inside look at the evolution of the organisation over the past decade.
Overlooking fundraising, volunteering, pro bono programs, sustainability, social impact and more, Voon describes her role as keeping CSR as relevant as possible for their people, enabling them to enact their own personal purpose.
“When it was originally created it was a vehicle for giving as many grants as we could to as many people as possible – over time, we have refined and created a strategy of more focused support,” she says.
Deloitte personalises their partnerships with their many not for profits, forging medium- to long-term relationships with them and assisting depending on the stage each individual organisation is at and what they require.
While it can still sometimes take the form of grants, the company keeps a persistent emphasis on providing mentoring, strategic planning, operational reviews and other pro bono professional services as well.
Given the multi-pronged approach, Voon says it makes sense that the online world has had a part to play in their strategy, too.
“With the nature of professional services, people are out on client sites a lot, and can have very unpredictable schedules sometimes. But the ability to know that you’ve got one hour in this particular semester, that you’re committed to, that’s online, is a lot more manageable for people conceptually to commit to than a six month face-to-face relationship, for example,” she says.
Voon notes that convenience in online volunteering is a huge draw card for working professionals, and is undoubtedly a huge highlight of online volunteering that individuals can access their work from anywhere in the world at whatever time suits them. She says interestingly there is also the added benefit of it’s temporary nature more closely complementing modern attention spans – in an age where we see more jacks-of-all-trades and multi-skilled professionals, the desire to try new things and experience a wider multitude of opportunities is eclipsing the desire to concentrate on one linear skillset. The ability to take on temporary or one-off volunteering projects fits in healthily with our proclivity for evolving whims and interests.
“I think there’s definitely the desire for people to use their discretionary time in ways that are meaningful to them at the time – that will of course change depending on the seasons in people’s lives and different causes that they might care about at that point,” Voon says.
The system, of course, is not perfect. With Deloitte’s varied experience in a wide array of CSR ventures, there are certainly takeaways for how not for profits and volunteers can better utilise these platforms to make the most of them.
“Often what the charities struggle with is articulating what their challenges are, and putting that in a form that can be shared online so that they’re actually answering the real question that they have for their organisation,” Voon says.
“It’s that sort of thing where it’s easy to list what the symptoms are, but it’s really hard to get to the cause.”
On the subject of online volunteering in general she says “the nature of there being such a diversity of people in the world means there’s always going to be a place for online giving of any sort”.
“But I think it’s then about – how do you foster the connection, and what is the way in which the charity gets what they really need out of the collaboration?” she says.
About the author: Ellie Nikakis is the PR and marketing coordinator for Vollie, an online marketplace that connects skilled people to not for profits, charities, and social enterprises for skills-based online volunteering.
This article is part of a monthly series of Purposeful Conversations by Vollie, in which we sit down with a range of CSR managers in the Australian business landscape about their interpretations of the CSR space in 2018.