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Aligning Corporate Volunteer Efforts to Achieve the Global Goals

United Ways are taking the lead in forming local leadership teams to harness the power of employee volunteer programs.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to do no less than to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and address climate change throughout the world. These “Global Goals” tackle such big issues; even the most socially-conscious of us might wonder, “Are my efforts making a difference on a global scale? How do we get there from here?”

I like to think of the SDGs as a common language for companies, nonprofits and other organizations to use to align their efforts and find new ways to partner and address social problems. Helping achieve the goals doesn’t require a significant change in volunteer and CSR initiatives, but applying the SDGs framework to ongoing efforts can help organizations talk about their efforts and measure their impact.

For example, United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) recently partnered with LA Community Leaders to host an Impact 2030 Mapping Workshop. The goal of the workshop was to use the SDG framework to identify where UWGLA and corporate partners’ priorities overlap and uncover additional partnership opportunities. The Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council (GPCVC) held a similar meeting, having been selected to serve as a Regional Lead for Impact 2030. In this role GPCVC will aim to support local businesses in aligning their volunteer and corporate social responsibility programs with the Global Goals and to develop shared metrics, tools and best practices. GPCVC is a coalition of nearly 40 companies supported by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.


While these ambitious endeavors are harnessing the full power of socially-minded companies, you don’t have to work for one of them to help achieve the Global Goals. Global change begins at home, in our neighborhoods, towns and cities, among all individuals, families, companies and community groups. And figuring out our distinct roles in this worldwide effort is not as hard as you might think.

Start by learning more about the goals and consider how you, as a volunteer, or as an organization that relies on volunteers, can align your work with the goals. Read 10 things you can do right now to help achieve the SDGs. Explore how volunteering can contribute to achieving the SDGs. Share videos and graphics and use the hashtag #GlobalGoals. And contact your local United Way to tap in to your community’s efforts to build partnerships among companies, nonprofits and civic institutions to achieve sustainable impact.