Learn how to meet the highest standards with recommended practices and elevate your organisation's impact through effective volunteer management.
How To Plan and Manage a Corporate Volunteering Program for Maximum Success
Learn how to meet the highest standards with recommended practices and elevate your organisation's impact through effective volunteer management.
With nearly half (49%) of all respondents in the 2021/22 Community Life Survey naming work commitments as a reason for not participating in a volunteer program, it’s worth taking a closer look at the advantages of employee volunteering.
As we're aware of the inhibition that often arises from the effort of planning — and executing — an employee volunteer program, we've compiled a list of benefits that it can bring to all parties involved, as well as essential strategies that'll guide you to achieve them. But first ...
What is corporate volunteering and why is it important?
Corporate volunteering is a collective term for various measures and organisational structures in which employers support their employees in helping others.
It’s important to recognise the unique place of businesses in the volunteering landscape, especially given that their centralised communication with employees allows them to organise more extensive programs without the elaborate retention strategies their nonprofit partner would need for the same efforts.
Corporate groups tend to come in larger sizes because employers can leverage their streamlined communication channels, even for an ad-hoc team-based volunteer opportunity. They can also streamline planning through a dedicated philanthropy department or employee resource groups. Other companies offer paid time off (PTO) specifically for volunteering or set up matching grants for employees who donate to nonprofits.
You’ll encounter an entire spectrum of boards and programs, so there’s no need to feel any pressure that your organisation is doing it wrong. You can completely adjust your volunteering strategy to your corporate culture and the individual ideas and needs of your team.
Whichever path you choose, though, each volunteer activity can give your employees the opportunity to connect with the local community. This not only gives your company a human face, or several. It also creates opportunities for future collaboration and business.
Most importantly, we know the positive impact of volunteering on employee satisfaction and even their mental and physical health. For employers, a well-designed volunteering program can work like a turbine, boosting your office atmosphere, talent engagement and branding all at the same time.
What are the benefits of a volunteer program for nonprofits and corporate organisations?
To understand the value of employee volunteers for nonprofits, you only need to consider that the voluntary sector’s workforce and government support have declined in the past decade. With the trend going toward spontaneous or digital volunteerism, a single corporation able to supply larger groups of volunteers provides significant value. Even if not all employees show up for every shift, such sizable groups make it easier to plan large-scale volunteer efforts, thus making the nonprofits’ work less burdensome.
Another benefit that tends to be overlooked is that corporate volunteerism introduces different audiences to the programs. Whereas most volunteers outside of corporate philanthropy are older adults, workforces at most companies are naturally more diverse. So, volunteering employees may encounter people they otherwise wouldn’t meet and bring those learnings back to the company while offering unique perspectives to other volunteers.
Depending on how systematically a company approaches their activities, corporate volunteers may also be able to take positions on weekdays. In contrast, many volunteering organisations are forced to shift larger events to weekends because that’s when most people find the time. Combine that with the fact that most groups of corporate volunteers often bring in more diverse skills due to demographic differences, and it’s easy to see how they can improve their overall impact on a community.
Plus, with more volunteers already knowing each other, you’ll often see a spike in enthusiasm and energy, and that spark usually jumps over to other volunteers and the community as a whole.
Since many enterprises embed their volunteering efforts within their marketing campaigns, it not only benefits their branding but also raises awareness for the cause at hand. That way, corporate volunteer programs bring short- and long-term benefits to their communities. And, just like the marketing team might show the program in an unexpected light, every team member brings in a fresh perspective, which can help nonprofits develop and fine-tune their vision and messaging over time.
That also provides a benefit to the company, because it gives corporate volunteers an opportunity to feel heard and appreciated, thus driving employee engagement. In some cases, the volunteering efforts may even inspire other team-building activities or motivate employees to invest more time in their skill development.
Either way, the commitment to corporate social responsibility activities enhances your company’s overall reputation in the eyes of employees and the community. Thanks to a Deloitte survey, we also know that almost 9 out of 10 people believe that companies that engage in volunteerism provide better work environments. So, there’s good reason to treat your volunteering efforts as a means of attracting and retaining talent.
Besides, volunteer opportunities not only motivate your employees to connect with people outside your organisation but also to expand their network.
“A corporate relationship is exactly that, a relationship. It's about providing mutual value and those relationships really need to be nurtured"
An innocent encounter at a cookout might lead to a cross-departmental collaboration between two team members who otherwise wouldn’t meet within your premises. Also, the often informal interactions at volunteer events allow employees to approach management personnel, which in turn can provide your leadership with new insights into company strategies. Consider every meetup a networking opportunity where your staff might encounter government officials, clients, media representatives or future talent.
How to plan and manage a corporate social responsibility initiative
For your corporate volunteerism to show the mentioned benefits, a well-planned approach is indispensable.
Before you enthusiastically pick corporate volunteer opportunities left and right, it’s best to define the objectives of your DSR initiatives alongside their contribution to your company’s overarching goals. It’s easy to get fired up about helping others, and rightfully so. But you want to be sure you’ve assessed your resources before committing to any more extensive campaigns.
Consider your financial means and personnel to determine budgets and timelines for your activities. Only then should you screen volunteering opportunities to spot those that integrate and align with your organisation’s vision and goals.
Every company will have a slightly different approach to including personnel in their decision making, but it should never be an afterthought. After all, you want your employees to identify with the cause at hand, so it’s crucial to at least be aware of preferences and opinions at the office — even if you won’t always achieve uniform consensus. If at least a significant portion of your staff isn’t highly invested in the cause, this can lead to disruptions and challenges down the road.
Make sure to determine key stakeholders who will be involved in planning and executing your activities to give them enough resources, whether that’s a dedicated office, PTO or access to equipment.
For diverse staff, it’s usually best to offer a range of volunteering opportunities that align with different interests. That could mean promoting various causes, but also considering different types of activities, flexible schedules and various levels of accessibility. Some employees will enjoy stepping outside their comfort zone and joining events solely for the experience, thus simplifying your planning process. However, it’s important to respect everyone’s opinion and make every team member feel heard. So, better to plan for coordinating one more program than to ignore individual voices.
Whichever cause(s) you choose, they should align with your company values. If you’re planning to enter new markets or thinking of major rebranding campaigns, it’s helpful to contemplate how your volunteering activities fit into the bigger picture. Nobody gets everything right on day one, but planning ahead can save you a lot of time and hassle later.
Map out employee engagement and communication strategies as an integral part of your strategy. Consider which feedback channels you’ll need, how you’ll celebrate employees’ contributions and factor in additional training. Whether you’re attracted to employee-led initiatives that match your company’s flat hierarchies or have management announce initiatives, plan for continuous assessments and regular feedback from everyone involved. You want your program to be flexible enough to adjust over time, and that requires everyone’s input.
Rosterfy can help you to streamline volunteer management and create groups and assign leaders to each initiative, allowing you to give more autonomy to individual employees. Thanks to adjustable registration processes and dashboards for different group members, your corporation can tailor its volunteerism strategy to its liking, whatever the future may hold – all while storing your data locally to support you in your compliance efforts.
If you value spontaneity, you can even get access to general volunteering opportunities outside of your primary programs.
Embedding employee engagement strategies in your volunteerism efforts
Assuming you’ve already gained support from management to ensure your volunteering efforts align with your company’s long-term plans and mission statements, you still need to consider a lot of practical steps to engage employees.
First of all, you need to involve your employees through interviews, questionnaires and focus groups, so they can support your choice of programs and inform you about the types of volunteerism they prefer and the causes most important to them. In most cases, you should already set up communication channels for long-term feedback at this point, as these same exchanges will continue to influence your program.
To create an organisational frame conducive to meaningful volunteering, you could also consider providing PTO and ensuring adequate skill matching to boost engagement. For additional motivation, especially when you’re trying to convince more hesitant coworkers, it can help to share stories or testimonials from those who already participated.
It’s always a good idea to get the creative juices flowing to come up with your own flavour of engagement strategies. Corporate or not, you should invest time, attention and resources in every volunteer.
Some organisations plan friendly competitions where departments compete to accrue the most volunteer hours or achieve a goal specific to the cause. You could even couple that with a tracking system, leaderboards and badges to gamify your team’s efforts and celebrate milestones. Other businesses set up internal skill auctions, enabling employees to bid on their colleagues’ time for assistance in tasks requiring unique skills.
Not every strategy needs to focus on causes outside your company, by the way. You’ll often encounter situations where it’s worth exploiting synergies. If your marketing staff helped promote a volunteer event with an innovative guerilla marketing stunt, why not bring that idea back into the meeting room and discuss how it can inform your own campaigns? Maybe your development team runs a hackathon to support an environmental nonprofit to explore green tech solutions, benefiting your community, the nonprofit’s cause and your office premises.
To make the most out of synergies across the board, you should try and look beyond the individual event and see the people involved. Through mentorship programs or community impact visits, you can create casual opportunities for employees and volunteers to meet and get to know each other. Wherever different groups of people mingle, you can expect innovative ideas and new relationships, and both can only be good for your organisation and the volunteers.
How to create a successful and sustainable corporate volunteer program
It is imperative that a corporate volunteer program becomes an integral part of your overall volunteer program strategy - here's how to make it a success.
How working closely with a nonprofit can improve your corporate volunteering program
Planning and managing corporate giving is certainly no easy feat, but if done right, it can show numerous rewards for both sides.
For corporate organisations, it’ll be difficult to find a single activity that boosts employee morale, talent engagement and branding while offering networking opportunities the way volunteering does.
Equally, nonprofits will gain access to valuable resources, helping them execute large-scale efforts more effectively, while including a more diverse demographic in their day-to-day activities, potentially attracting new volunteers and donors.
Non profit, Mass Event, Cities and Local Governments use systems like Rosterfy to help them manage their volunteering Programs.
The Common Good, an initiative of The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation in Brisbane, leverages Rosterfy to efficiently manage their volunteer program. Through this platform, they are able to mobilise a staggering number of almost 2,000 volunteers for various city-wide events. Additionally, they utilise Rosterfy to provide their corporate partners with comprehensive information regarding the significant impact their volunteers have made.
Accurately measuring and reporting the impact of your CSR program is crucial for its success. It not only demonstrates the value of your efforts but also creates an engaging platform for volunteers to participate in multiple events beyond their initial commitment. This expanded opportunity benefits both the corporate partner and the volunteers, fostering a deeper connection and enhancing the overall impact of the program.
To achieve all this, it’s critical to plan accordingly and identify nonprofits that align with your company goals and that already have a well-structured program.
Chloe Nguyen, General Manager Marketing and Memberships for The Common Good, describes this as a true relationship in every sense of the word. You can read more on how they build these relationships and the steps they make to ensure their projects have the most impact here:
Many nonprofit organisations already use Rosterfy to manage volunteers, schedule events and communicate with volunteers to keep the program alive. So, if you’re still undecided about a cause to pick, Rosterfy can even present an opportunity to discover future partnerships.
If you’d like a tour of our platform to see how Rosterfy streamlines the collaboration with a nonprofit and your internal reporting, book a demo now.
Rosterfy is used by non-profits, charities, sporting federations, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train and retain volunteers.
Our market leading technology helps you create engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.
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