ABV-NAB Skilled Volunteering Program

 In an environment of heightened public awareness and astuteness, the Peter Parker Principle - with great power comes great responsibility - has never been more relevant for multi-national corporations and small businesses alike. 

As one of the ‘Big Four’ and Australia’s largest business bank, NAB leads the way in social impact, inclusivity, and social innovation. Its three-pronged approach to community investment focuses on Philanthropy, Social Impact, and the creation of Shared Value through leveraging core assets and expertise. NAB aligns its Social Impact strategy with its core business operations to ensure authentic and measurable change. It puts its customers at the centre of everything it does and leverages its strengths as a bank, a major employer, and an active member of the community to create sustainable social impact. 

Through an innovative partnership with ABV, NAB is honouring its commitment to making a positive and sustainable impact on the lives of its customers, people, shareholders, communities, and the environment that they operate in. 

Established in 2017, the NAB Skilled Volunteering Program (SVP) is the result of a co-design workshop that involved ABV and representatives from NAB’s Social Impact team and its Talent/People Team. 

The workshop looked at how best to motivate, reward and engage employees across the NAB business while creating social impact for not-for-profits and social enterprises in Australia. It delivered agreed outcomes, expectations, and recommendations that incorporated elements of NAB’s capability development framework as well as its corporate values and behaviors. 

Now in its fourth year, the Skilled Volunteering Program continues to deliver an enviable triple benefit. It enhances the skills and experience of participating NAB staff, builds capacity and capability within the community organisation, not-for-profit or social enterprise that it partners with, and contributes to NAB’s strategic drive to deliver measurable and sustainable social impact. 

At the core of NAB’s Skilled Volunteering Program is a six phase NAB Community Strategy Challenge, which places NAB employees into a facilitated immersive project with a social enterprise or not-for-profit, where they share relevant knowledge and skills to assist the enterprise to solve agreed business challenges.  

The immersive nature of the program allows NAB staff to step out of their regular comfort zones and walk in the shoes of charitable organisations for a two-week period. Due to restrictions stemming from the current pandemic, recent programs have been delivered virtually over a three-week period. 

Once NAB and ABV agree on a community partner, the CEO of ABV and the community partner meet to confirm alignment and ensure that desired outcomes will add genuine value. ABV’s facilitator works closely with the community partner to scope the business challenge to be solved and agree suitable timeframes for the project. 

The immersive challenge then follows a process of Exploration and Discovery, Creativity and Design, Collating and Collaboration and the final phase of Reflection and Celebration. This process is based on design-thinking approaches and incorporates reflective learning throughout. Participants are encouraged and supported to acquire, develop and improve their leadership skills and capabilities through co-facilitation and collaborative teamwork. The difference between this approach and a typical project sprint is that the experience is intensively facilitated, and personal learning journeys are supported. ABV aims for a transformative experience for employees, while delivering relevant and valuable solutions for the community partner. It’s not uncommon to received positive feedback espousing professional and personal awakenings gained during the challenges. 

The results speak for themselves with an average participant net promoter score of more than 90. (Net Promoter Scores are globally benchmarked and assess participant program satisfaction with a number -100 to +100.) 

Over the years the NAB Skilled Volunteering Program has successfully delivered measurable outcomes with seven community partners and built a growing alumni of more than 50 NAB employees. Previous beneficiaries include bushfire-affected communities in Cobargo; victims of domestic violence supported by Two Good Co. who deliver meals to shelters; and women, girls and families accessing micro-financing through Good Shepherd. The outcomes for community partners range from strategy plans to process improvement mapping to customer experience design and business case development. 

NAB’s Head of Strategic Giving, Laura Cochrane acknowledged the generous benefits that flow from the NAB Skilled Volunteering Program. “We are building a skilled volunteering program with Australian Business Volunteers that has triple impact. It benefits the community, NAB colleagues individually and NAB as an organisation, Cochrane said. “With 40 years of experience, ABV has superior facilitation skills and exceptional management of our volunteers. Together, we are creating sustainable social change.” 

Most recently, the NAB Skilled Volunteering Program has worked with Special Olympics Australia, and the Committee for Ballarat with Beyond Zero Emissions.  

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