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Richard Branson: Volunteering..?

Richard Branson offers valuable advice on choosing the perfect time for organizing charity sporting events which are supported by your company aiming at boosting your brand’s social character, and also offering to people or organizations:

Richard Branson on the Business Benefits of Volunteering – Entrepreneur

In many parts of the world, spring is in bloom and people are getting off the couch and going outside. This is the perfect time for you and your team to start planning which charity sporting events your company is going to be involved in this year. Combining your employees’ volunteer work with sport and exercise is great for business and the community, boosting relationships, health and morale all round. I started thinking about this because I have been on the road a lot lately, visiting Virgin businesses and raising money for our nonprofit foundation, Virgin Unite. The travel can be grueling, and I find that I can keep my energy levels up by exercising as soon as possible after I arrive.  Bike riding in the towns and cities I visit has been one of my favorite ways of getting out, and so, on a trip to South Africa in March, I competed in the Pick n Pay Cape Argus bike race with my son-in-law Freddie Andrewes and some members of the Virgin Group’s senior team. It was a stunning 109-kilometer ride from Cape Town to a distant point in a national park and back along a different route. There were a lot of people doing the circuit – it is the world’s biggest mass participation ride, with more than 35,000 competitors taking part in 2013, and raises a great deal of money for charity in South Africa.

Richard Branson Volunteering 1

More importantly, volunteering helps to get some personal benefits:

Benefits of Volunteering – United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland

1)   Meet new people – It is often difficult to meet new people, especially if you are not a naturally outgoing person. Volunteering is great way to meet people who share similar interests, thereby opening up avenues to make new friends and networking contacts.
2)   Learn new skills – Volunteering gives you firsthand experience that you cannot gain in the classroom, such as planning, goal setting, problem solving, and interacting with people outside of your usual peer group.
3)   Explore possible new interests –When you volunteer, you get a chance to “test drive” new interests and discover new passions you did not even know you had.
4)   Build your resume – Not only does volunteering provide networking contacts and skills that potential employers find valuable, but it also shows your commitment to the community. When employers see that you are a person who likes to give back to the community, it shows a side of you that cannot be reflected solely by your “prior work experience.”
5)   Improves your physical and mental health – You know that “good feeling” you get when you volunteer? It turns out that feeling may be something more. Studies show volunteers live longer and have lesser incidents of chronic pain and heart disease. Volunteering also lowers depression, especially in people over the age of 65…

It is also clear, that volunteering is a special task for everyone working in your business at a top-down level:

Richard Branson on the Business Benefits of Volunteering

First, as our experience showed, it’s important that everyone in your business be involved, including the leadership team – no one should be so busy that they can’t take part. Everyone needs to be able to take breaks for fun and exercise, and your company needs to have a healthy, engaged and creative workforce if you’re going to get ahead of your competition. Make sure that your employees have options to choose from: Some will want to join a corporate team to compete in a race or challenge, others will want to help organize events, and others may simply want to help raise money. While some of your competitors may dismiss your efforts as a distraction, such cooperation outside the office will be a key builder of your company’s culture, creating a real competitive advantage for years to come – we at Virgin have found this to be the case. We sponsor a number of large sporting events in Britain, such as the London Marathon, the Cyclone ride and the London Triathlon. All of these events increase the awareness of the Virgin brand in one form or another, but importantly, they raise money for charity and connect our companies to local markets and communities. More than that, volunteer work can stimulate enterprising ideas, some of which may be applicable to your business someday. One of our partners in Australia is the mobile and broadband group Optus, and its team, led by the CEO, Kevin Russell, just completed this year’s Tour de Cure, riding more than 1,500 kilometers in Australia from Adelaide to Canberra through the Snowy Mountains. The Tour de Cure is a cycling charity that raises money for all types of cancer research, awareness and prevention. The event has raised millions of dollars over the past seven years, which is quite extraordinary considering its beginnings: two guys chatting in a Sydney coffee shop.

Finally, in today’s times of economic crisis it is important for businesses not only to sell good products or services, but also to build a strong social brand by helping people and organizations: Volunteering

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