According to the Deloitte Volunteerism Survey from 2017, 9 out of 10 respondents believe that companies who sponsor volunteering activities offer a better working environment that those who don’t. Encouraging, supporting and coordinating employees to participate in volunteering events is not only a powerful way to give back to the community but also positively impacts the employees’ relationship with their companies.
Volunteering increases one’s satisfaction and motivation, and as shown in the study conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation, it is also a great opportunity for professional and personal development. Research done by Points of Light Foundation shows that well designed corporate volunteering program acts as a unique talent development tool, potentially replacing formal training.
And we are talking about much more than just team building! Corporate volunteering is also a great way to boost interpersonal or problem-solving skills as most of the time volunteers are faced with challenges that they need to overcome with very limited resources. Did you know that active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles? That’s not all – by being able to volunteer on behalf of the employer, employees get to know each other in a different way, often eliminating the hierarchy and leading to stronger identification with the company.
And all of these employee-related benefits have a positive impact on companies – corporate volunteering is a cost-effective way to develop employees, increase workforce engagement and eventually become a more attractive place to work. And let’s not forget about the initial beneficiaries – non-profits themselves that receive time and know-how support, opportunity to establish new personal relationships and find advocates for the mission as well as potential donor relationship.
How to Make the Most out of Corporate Volunteering
To reap the full benefits of corporate volunteering, it is crucial that the program is well structured. While employee volunteering is relatively new in the European market there are plenty of examples and experiences to learn from coming from the US.
Corporate volunteering can take different forms: hands-on or high-skilled, individual or group, one-off or regular. Below are some of the most popular approaches to making a valuable social contribution in the form of corporate volunteering.
- Social/impact days: team building events for good, when employees spend a day supporting a chosen non-profit usually with hands-on experience such as cooking in a shelter, planting trees or joining environmental clean-ups.
- Hackathons: One-day event where employees & non-proﬁts work together to solve problems or boost non-profits’ growth. For example, new online presence, fundraising campaign or HR strategy. It can also have a form of a challenge or competition.
- Individual volunteering: time and opportunities provided and coordinated by the employer, which allow employees to independently schedule and manage their level of contribution.
How to Link Corporate Volunteering to Your Business’ Growth
While the social impact benefit of corporate volunteering is obvious, as a company you are also thinking about the investment such program will entail. Corporate volunteering requires time and resources to set up, as well as potentially some financial investment. No matter how your company decides to get engaged, it’s important to maximise the benefits of corporate volunteering by connecting it with your business strategy. Five points below sum up what to keep in mind when designing a corporate volunteering program.
- Set up clear goals – it is important to have different internal stakeholders aligned from the very beginning, HR and CSR should work on that together.
- Be authentic! Tie the engagement to the mission and vision of the company.
- Let the employees do what they are good at – be creative and explore different partnerships.
- Make sure the engagement is high – get the buy-in from the top and promote, promote, promote internally.
- Measure the impact (internally and externally) – well-reported programs can be tied to the business outcomes of the company. It will make it easier to invest in social engagement in the future.
Designing such a program requires not only extra resources on the side of the company but also non-profits. Companies often face difﬁculties in identifying and arranging corporate volunteering opportunity and assessing its impact. They often do not know what the possibilities are and are not fully informed about the questions they should be asking. Some nonprofits advertise their willingness to establish partnerships to make corporate volunteering easier, but many don’t have enough resources to make it happen. This is how organizations such as Social Held step in. To bridge the gap between the willing companies and non-profits that need support, Social Held provides the expertise and know-how to create a seamless experience in finding the right volunteering opportunity for your company.
So, are you ready to get started?
About the Author
This article was written by Karolina Kartus, a Co-Founder of Social Held, where she works on making volunteering more accessible & developing Corporate Volunteering programmes with Austrian companies. Connect with her on LinkedIn.