More companies paying employees to volunteer

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Jasmyne McDonald is an operations specialist, but her salary covers more than the time she spends on the job.  The pay clock continues to tick when she's at her local food pantry helping the needy. 

"It was really important for me to work for a company that allowed their employees to have paid time off to volunteer," she said.

McDonald gets 8 hours of company time each year to "do good."  It's a perk that a growing number of workplaces now offer -- some up to 40 hours a year!

McDonald explained,  "Lots of young graduates are looking for places that they can give back that has not only a bottom line and, and worried about the profit, but also that's worried about, you know, 'how are we making a difference and changing the lives of people in the world?'"

In a recent study, 20 percent of companies surveyed reported giving workers paid time to do charity work, that's up from 15 percent just 4 years ago.  And, the number is expected to keep growing!

"There's a war for talent and, and one of the things that good people, great talented people are always looking for is a company that aligns with their commitment to the community."

Paul Sanford, a Vice President at CIGNA, says in addition to helping attract quality workers, he's found that giving employees time to volunteer, improves performance in the office.

"I've seen employees that volunteer actually become more productive. I've actually seen that build team camaraderie."

Michael Stroik with the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philantrhopy says that's one reason employers are willing to pay big bucks. He says a program like this can cost a Fortune 500 company as much as $2 million a year.

"No matter how large the company is this is a significant line item in terms of the compensation costs," he said.

The growing popularity of this benefit has a lot to do with social media and the new workforce.

"We have this younger generation, these millennials, who are in a lot of senses holding these companies accountable," said Stroik.  "They're sharing what they're doing through their companies, and we believe that a lot of their friends and family members, they're then going to their companies and wondering how they can get engaged in these types of programs."

McDonald says she loves being able to serve her community, as well as her company and can easily handle it all.

"I just make sure my work gets done," she said.  "I have no problem load balancing after work or whatever the case may be, or whatever is necessary to allow me to volunteer."

Stroik says programs like these demonstrate that corporate philanthropy is moving beyond just cutting a check for charity.  Most are administered by company human resources departments, and participation requires management approval.

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