Why doing good is good business.

By Matthew Goldstein

Today's young professionals-millennials-have a strong desire to donate their time and talent. They have grown up in a service-oriented era where "giving back" is germane to who they are as people. Therefore, they are being deemed "The Giving Generation." However, finding the time to actually volunteer between work, social obligations and professional development can be hard.

That's where corporate volunteer programs come in.

According to a Stanford Graduate School of Business study, graduates are willing to sacrifice an average of 14.4 percent of their expected salaries to work at socially responsible companies. Further, PricewaterhouseCoopersfound that 88 percent of millennials gravitate toward companies with pronounced Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, and 86 percent would consider leaving if their employer's CSR no longer met their expectations.

Clearly, young professionals want-and expect-their employers to create an environment that encourages and enables them to give back.

But the value of a corporate volunteer program goes much deeper than simply appeasing employees' needs. Let's look at a few additional benefits:

Employee engagement. Deloitte's eighth annual Volunteer IMPACT Survey found that millennials who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are more likely to be loyal and satisfied employees, as compared to those who rarely or never volunteer. These employees are also twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as "very positive" and more likely to recommend their company to a friend. These numbers are good for the bottom line, too. According to the survey, "The affinity that employees feel toward an employer has the power to create a competitive advantage that can be hard to imitate, and is inextricably linked to organizational performance. Sometimes intangible, its force is undeniable. Without a motivated and engaged workforce, even the most brilliant business strategies can falter."

Professional and team development. You could pay for expensive leadership and communication training to help employees improve their soft skills, but it turns out a volunteer program could do the work for you. In fact, UnitedHealth Group's 2013 Health and Volunteering Study found that 87 percent of people who had volunteered within the last year said their experience helped them develop teamwork and people skills, and 81 percent said volunteering helped strengthen their relationships with their colleagues.

Business development and corporate visibility. A well-organized, well-executed and measureable corporate volunteer program can increase a company's visibility and boost its reputation among partners, investors, analysts, media, community members and other key stakeholders. Similarly, it can be good for business development, as volunteering can position your employees to meet and build relationships with community leaders.

Company volunteer programs drive greater employee engagement, satisfaction and morale, plus support professional, team and business development. As a result, they can lead to greater productivity and profitability.

Simply put, giving back is good business. Period.

Matthew Goldstein is the founder and CEO of Besa, an organization helping to mobilize Columbus' citizens and businesses to address the community's social problems. He can be reached at (614) 302-1137 and matthew@givebesa.org.