It can be tough to plan a volunteer effort that benefits your employees, improves the quality of community services and increases the bottom line. It can be even harder when a business has customers in more than one location. But, with the right partner, finding and executing meaningful volunteer opportunities that help achieve strategic business goals is easier than one might think.
Volunteer Programs: The Basics
One low-cost way companies can build brand awareness and show they are a good corporate citizen is by volunteering locally. For example, a business might organize a one-time or ongoing service activity with a local non-profit. If done right, this approach meets an immediate need in the community, puts the company in a positive light, leads to increased employee morale, loyalty and productivity and offers a tested model of service to bring to new markets.
Consider the partnership between the United Way of Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley and Brown Brothers Harriman, a financial services firm. By working together to identify mutual interests, they were able to design and execute a volunteer program that meets critical needs in the community and provides employees with volunteer opportunities that align with their core business such as tax preparation and financial education. The relationship has been so successful in Boston, MA that the company recently expanded the program to its New York City office with the United Way of New York City.
Another way a business might encourage volunteering is to introduce policies that allow staff to volunteer on their own time or match contributions employees make to select charities. The hours logged and dollars raised can then be reported by both the local non-profit and employer on annual reports and grant applications.
Extra Employee Perks
In exchange for their hard work, employees that volunteer enjoy time away from their day-to-day work routine while on the clock, communicate with colleagues across the workforce, learn ways to be more involved in the community, stay physically active and can appreciate knowing they have made a difference in someone’s life.
Investing a nominal amount of thought in a volunteer program, tied to the company’s goals and its culture and driven by a few passionate employees can prime it for success. But with literally hundreds of thousands of non-profits to choose from, where does one begin to build a framework? As a starting point, companies might consider setting goals and priorities as well as define what success will look like, then research and reach out to reputable non-profits to determine how to achieve shared goals.
Interested to bring an employee volunteer program to your business? Contact United Way to plan and implement volunteer opportunities that will benefit your business, employees and the community.