7. What might the next five years look like for ESV?

Employers, volunteer-involving organisations and brokers participating in the research were asked to consider what the next years ahead might look like for ESV, and the external drivers which might impact on its development. A number of themes emerged.

Research participants expected ESV to increase in the next years

As outlined in section 3.1, many volunteer-involving organisations and brokers had already perceived an increased interest in ESV among employers in recent years, and many felt this trend was likely to continue.

Other research suggests that this interest in ESV is shared by volunteer-involving organisations too. Among the volunteer-involving organisations surveyed by CVN, among those who did not currently participate in ESV, the majority said that they had a desire to do so in the future[1].

The financial climate is likely to get tougher

A key concern among all groups, however, related to the economic climate in which ESV operates, and how to address the challenges of meeting a growing demand for ESV in an uncertain economic environment.

For employers, there was a recognition that the uncertainties on the economy and jobs linked to Brexit could have an impact on less obviously profitable parts of their business, like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. As a consequence, increasing or maintaining ESV budgets during challenging economic times was likely to become tougher. Some felt that the need to show value for money would become greater as well as needing to better evidence the impact of volunteering.

The ever more pressure on budgets for businesses require that the business case for ESV needs to probably become greater and the extent to which impact could play a part in this could be influential.


Meanwhile, volunteer-involving organisations and brokers shared concerns around funding in a challenging environment, and felt there would be under more pressure to charge for ESV, if they were not already doing so.

I think introducing charges for ESV is a real challenge and is not ideal… but is becoming more and more necessary for so many organisations as financial sustainability is a real issue; so many small charities are closing and valued public services are being reduced or lost.


Concerns around funding were all the more pressing with increased demands for services being placed on volunteer-involving organisations, especially in health and social care. As shown in section 3.1, research[2] indicates that the need for ESV volunteers is already increasing.

Higher expectations placed on employers are likely to drive ESV forward

While the climate in which ESV operates is likely to get tougher, some perceived that increased expectations on employers to place more emphasis on employee wellbeing and to have a values-based culture and ethos, were likely to give impetus to ESV.

[Volunteering] promotes a better work-life balance… given the increasing evidence of the positive impact of volunteering… on health and wellbeing. Increasingly, the offer of elements like ESV as part of the overall employment package is attractive to prospective job applicants.


Even though there were some doubts raised over some employers’ motivations currently, participants across all groups felt that with these changes, they could see (or hoped to see) corporate social responsibility arrangements going beyond a ‘tick box exercise’ and making a genuine impact in society, both through volunteer-involving organisations they support and through the workplace.

If volunteering can be built in effectively to organisations there is potential for better work-life balance, a broader experience base and greater, genuine CSR.


ESV may evolve in new and innovative ways

These increased expectations on employers may mean having an ESV offer may become the standard, not what differentiates from other employers[3]. There are already some signs that organisations are looking to creative and more innovative ways of incentivising employees through ESV. For example, in the US, Starbucks are running a six-month pilot programme where 36 employees in 13 US cities will continue to get full pay while working at selected non-profit organisations for half the work week, in work that aligns with Starbucks’ social impact priorities[4].

Additionally, it is likely that wider changes in the work environment such as increasingly flexible and remote working may trigger changes in the way ESV is delivered. These are likely to come hand in hand with digitally supported or digitally based opportunities. For some, these changes prompted uncertainty or even concerns. However, others saw this as an opportunity for ESV to develop in new ways.

These changes, whether driven by employers or wider societal shifts, may raise the question of where ESV is best placed to meet needs and where it is not. Where volunteer-involving organisations choose to support and deliver ESV, the need to engage with these changes is likely to increase.

Overall there needs to be more movement of charities towards a flexible approach to volunteers – offering more short-term opportunities as well as the ongoing roles.



  1. CVN, 2018

  2. Three Hands, 2018

  3. Accenture (2016), A 2020 Vision for Employer Supported Volunteering

  4. Jackson R (2019) - blog ‘Are we ready for the future of Employer Supported Volunteering?

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 03 June 2019