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Jan 7, 2022 10:10:06 AM by InitLive

7 Steps to Start an Effective Employee Volunteering Program

7 Steps to Start an Effective Employee Volunteering Program

Today, corporate volunteerism is becoming more and more popular as businesses seek to improve their societal impact. 

Plus, these programs offer plenty of internal benefits for companies as well. An employee volunteering program enhances teamwork amongst all employees and allows them to expand their skill sets. These programs are a great way to harness your employees’ skills by encouraging them to donate their time and energy to support a greater cause in their community!

To offer the best experience possible for your employees, it’s crucial to properly plan and make sure you know the best practices for success!

In this guide, we’ll review the ins and outs of starting an effective employee volunteering program with the following sections: 

Creating a well-thought-out, comprehensive employee volunteering program keeps your business’s corporate philanthropy program organized and on track. Let’s dive in to learn more!

What are Employee Volunteering Programs?

What are Employee Volunteering Programs?

Employee volunteering programs (EVP) are a type of corporate philanthropy endeavor where businesses engage their employees in community service initiatives. They are employer-supported programs that encourage employees to donate their time towards community causes. Employees can either volunteer on company time or after work. 

Employee volunteering programs help boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve retention rates. According to America’s Charities’ employee engagement survey, almost 60% of companies provide paid time off to encourage employees to volunteer.

4 Benefits of Creating an Employee Volunteer Program for Your Business

4 Benefits of Creating an Employee Volunteer Program for Your Business

Employee volunteer programs offer plenty of benefits for businesses. Increasingly, the younger workforce expects their employers to provide some sort of philanthropic program where they can give back. Employees are looking for a more rewarding, engaging, and meaningful workplace experience, and creating an employee volunteer program for your business is the perfect way to provide this!

Here are some of the benefits that come along with launching an employee program of your business:

  • Increase employee engagement and satisfaction. According to the Deloitte Volunteer Impact Survey, 77 percent of employees said that company-sponsored volunteer activities are essential to their wellbeing. Purpose-driven employees are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, and when they know that the work they do matters, determination and engagement increase.

  • Increase employee retention. According to the Social Purpose Institute, purpose-driven workers have 20% longer expected tenures. When employees are engaged in volunteering activities that involve giving back, it leads to a deeper commitment and connection to their work, increasing employee retention.

Volunteer Engagement and Communications Guide

  • Boost your business’s reputation as a philanthropically-minded organization. According to America’s Charities, 72% of consumers said they would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t. Many customers or clients support companies that prioritize leaving a positive impact in the world rather than just pursuing profits. When your business connects more meaningfully with your community, it boosts your reputation and public image.

  • Train employees in specific skills. When you create volunteer opportunities that align with your business’s services, you can help employees continue developing valuable professional skills. For instance, if your business is a bakery, you can engage your employees in a volunteer bake sale to help them put their skills to work. 

Now that you know the benefits that come with creating an employee volunteer program for your business, read on to learn tips on how you can get started with building your own program!

7 Steps to Start Employee Volunteering Program

7 Steps to Start Your Employee Volunteering Program

Launching an employee volunteering program reduces employee turnover rates by up to 50%! Having a step-by-step plan is crucial in ensuring that every element of your employee volunteering program is well-thought-out, leading to greater success.

There are plenty of moving parts involved in setting up an effective volunteer program, from goal setting to getting executive approval to onboarding your employees.. Here are some concrete steps in helping businesses like yours to begin your program:

7 Steps to Start Your Employee Volunteering Program

  • Invest in a quality corporate volunteerism platform. As your program will grow over time and more employees get involved, you may need to investigate your options for robust volunteer management software. A VMS makes it easier to run reports and provides insights on your program’s performance. For instance, platforms like InitLive offer everything your business needs to manage its EVP, from volunteer scheduling tools to excellent communication and engagement features that help you stay connected with employees and share new opportunities.

  • Set goals for the program. Before you inform your employees about your upcoming employee volunteering program, create some goals that you would like to achieve so it’s easier to measure success. Why do you want to start an EVP? How many employees do you want to engage? How many volunteer hours do you want to aim for? These are some questions to consider before you establish your program.

  • Create or discover local volunteer opportunities. Reach out to local nonprofits or use an online resource like VolunteerMatch to discover new opportunities that you think will interest your employees and align with their skills.

  • Create additional charitable opportunities. Engage your employees in even more philanthropic endeavours by offering them donation opportunities to help support nonprofit organizations. This can include adding a corporate matching gift program or volunteer grant program to your roster of corporate philanthropy initiatives. 

  • Promote your opportunities to employees. Provide detailed descriptions of each volunteer opportunity so that your volunteers have an idea of what they will be working on. Promote these opportunities during a meeting, in your lunchroom, or on your social media and email platforms.

  • Track volunteer data to assess progress. Monitoring and keeping track of your program’s performance will help you analyze engagement levels, efficiency, and whether or not you’re reaching your goals. Store data on volunteer attendance, hours, and successes to get an understanding of your program. This is also a great way to help you identify any obstacles and develop strategies for overcoming them.

  • Thank volunteers for their hard work. Remember, showing recognition for all your employees’ dedication and hard work goes a long way in better volunteer engagement and performance. They will be more likely to stay connected with your program when they feel appreciated and valued. There are plenty of ways you can thank your employees, including planing an appreciation event, offering a free t-shirt as a thank-you, posting social media shout-outs, or even writing personalized letters.

Creating a proper plan is essential to ensure that your volunteer program will be sustainable and long-lasting. You can gain valuable feedback from your employees from time to time to assess how they feel about your program.

Employee Volunteer Program Best Practices

Employee Volunteer Program Best Practices for Success

Employee volunteer programs improve your corporate image and relationships with key stakeholders, including your employees and community members. To make the most of your program, you can incorporate several best practices that will be effective in helping your program thrive. Let’s take a look!

Employee Volunteer Program Best Practices for Success

Use volunteer management software.

If you’re going to manage a large group of passionate volunteers, having up-to-date volunteer management software will help you efficiently report on your volunteer activities and program as a whole! You can use this software to ensure your employees have a seamless experience, from sign-in to check-out, and that they have access to the tools and resources they need. 

For instance, with InitLive’s platform, employees can have easy access to personalized volunteer opportunities that best suit their interests and skills.

InitLive’s volunteer management software tools allow you to: 

Offer Tailored Volunteer Opportunities - Collect, store, and go back to important employee information such as their skills, preferences, and qualifications to offer volunteer opportunities that best suit their interests.

Facilitate Easy Employee Self Sign-Up - Encourage your volunteers to review your volunteer opportunities and sign up for the personalized and recommended opportunities that work best for them.

Keep Employees Engaged - Easily communicate new volunteer opportunities to your employees, deliver personalized impact reports, shift reminders, and much more with InitLive’s comprehensive email and communication features.

Equip Your Team With A Mobile App - Empower your employees with access to their own volunteer schedules, activities, shift details, two-way communication, and alert notifications through their mobile devices.

Employee Volunteer Hours Tracking - Track and report on the volunteer hours and impact of individual volunteers, groups, projects, or shifts. Collect volunteer hours with InitLive’s shift check-in system, kiosk, or volunteer hour submissions with an approval process.

InitLive makes creating and managing a corporate volunteering program easy with its flexible framework, comprehensive features, and advanced reporting functionality. For more information on how InitLive can help you manage your corporate volunteer program, explore the comprehensive features page or reach out today

Incentivize volunteerism.

Incentivizing volunteerism plays a crucial role in boosting volunteer engagement and stirs interest towards your employee volunteering program. Offering incentives as a way to say “thank you” or “good job” enables you, as a business owner, to retain your employees as it shows them how valued they are!

Here are some incentives you can offer to your employees:

  • Offer paid time off to volunteer. Many of your employees will go out of their way to volunteer and contribute to the community without expecting anything in return, but offering them paid time off to volunteer provides extra motivation to participate. e.

  • Provide rewards for top participants. Rewarding your volunteers shows that you acknowledge their hard work and dedication and is key in increasing retention rates. You can keep track of everyone’s volunteer hours throughout the year and reward your top volunteers with a special prize. You can offer a certificate of appreciation at a team meeting, and you can also offer a gift card to a popular local restaurant.  Your employees will surely feel special!

  • Thank volunteers publicly on your company’s social media pages. Posting shout-outs on social media is a great way to publicly announce and highlight your employees’ volunteering efforts for everyone to see. This will entice your employees to continue putting their best foot forward as they will feel recognized and appreciated.

Offer volunteer grants. 

Volunteer grants are charitable donations made by corporations in recognition of the volunteer work that their employees do. In a volunteer grant program, your company would contribute donations to organizations where your employees regularly volunteer. 

Approximately 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. These programs allow employees to have an even greater positive impact on the nonprofits they serve. 

Launch a promotional campaign to raise awareness about volunteer grants and let your employees know how much of an impact they can make by submitting volunteer grant requests. 

Provide flexible opportunities to get involved. 

Finding the free time to volunteer can be a barrier for employees who want to support your employee volunteer program initiatives. If some of your employees have busy schedules, consider offering both virtual volunteer opportunities and micro-volunteer opportunities to appeal to their schedules.

Virtual volunteering opportunities open doors to those who may have transportation, time, or mobility restrictions. This is a great way to allow them to still be a part of your employee volunteer program and can help boost engagement since your employees have the option to volunteer within the comfort of their own homes. 

And, since we are still experiencing the ongoing effects of the pandemic, virtual opportunities are a great way to stay safe while still maintaining strong relationships with your employees. 

You can also offer your employees more flexibility by offering shorter volunteer opportunities that will still allow them to leave an impact. Micro-volunteer opportunities that only last an hour or two can still have a big impact!

3 Inspiring Employee Volunteer Program Examples

3 Inspiring Employee Volunteer Program Examples

If you’re designing your company’s EVP and looking for effective ideas, it’s helpful to review the efforts of other successful corporate philanthropy programs. Here are three examples to get inspiration for your program: 

1. Verizon

Verizon’s volunteer grant program offers a $750 donation for every 50 volunteer hours. Verizon is looking to make the world a better place by connecting communities using communication technology. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the projects they are focusing on:

Verizon’s Digital Inclusion Program - Verizon is focusing on making their technology available to everyone to avoid a digital divide. They are trying to help under-sourced schools, low-income families, and rural communities succeed. With the help from government programs, they offer more affordable internet to those in need to still stay connected for remote work and school.

Climate Protection Initiative - Providing sustainable products and services is crucial for Verizon. They are working towards net-zero carbon emissions in their operations by 2035 by investing in renewable energy and enhancing the energy efficiency of their network and facilities.

Human Prosperity Commitment - Verizon supports communities by helping vulnerable individuals build on their current skill set. They are committed to helping people prosper through volunteerism.

2. Microsoft

Microsoft employees are looking to tackle the many world issues we face today by giving their time, money, and skills to make a difference. They are passionate about working as a team to make a difference as they believe that large companies can truly make a significant difference. 

Microsoft’s volunteer grant program offers a donation of $25 per volunteer hour. Here are a few more elements of their corporate philanthropy program:  

Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program - Microsoft has a matching gift program where they empower employees to contribute to the causes they believe in. One of the key features of this program includes a “dollar-for-dollar match” with a maximum limit of $15,000 per employee in a calendar year.

Employee Pro Bono Services - This is a service provided by Microsoft where they provide free legal aid to those in need. They are committed to facilitating and providing these services as it is a top priority for their legal department.

3. Aetna

Aetna focuses on helping people live healthier lives through multiple programs. Their goal is to build healthy communities by bringing affordable and high-quality care to improve health outcomes for every American. 

Nationwide, Aetna is working towards making health testing and services easily accessible for all and is trying to tackle many public health issues. They also offer a $300 volunteer grant for every 20 volunteer hours.

Here are some of Aetna’s programs that promote healthy lifestyles in communities all over the country:

Charitable Giving to Promote Health and Wellness - This program is all about supporting communities with financial support, in-kind donations, employee giving, fundraising, and through other community investments. Aetna provides grants that support nonprofit organizations that provide access to great health care services in the community.

Building Healthy Communities - Due to the human actions that contribute to climate change, Aetna is committed to fostering environmental responsibility in their company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They’ve set targets for improving the greenhouse gas efficiency of their operations. They have routine monitoring and reviews of risks that may occur in relation to environmental compliance and climate change.

Volunteer Engagement and Communication Guide

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve read about the benefits of using volunteer management software to help manage your employee volunteering program, the important steps in helping you thrive, and the best practices to offer a memorable experience, it’s time to start planning! 

It starts off with having a proper structure and knowing which nonprofits to partner up with. From there, provide constant support and inspiration to all your employees, and there’s no doubt your employees will enjoy your program! Remember to express your appreciation from time to time and let your employees know how much of a positive impact they are having on the community.

If you’re looking for more information on how to engage with volunteers more effectively, review these additional resources:

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