Corporate & Programmes Manager, Volunteer Ireland
Volunteering has quickly become a core component of any company’s employee health and wellbeing programme.
It is no doubt that employee volunteering positively impacts colleagues, companies and charities. It has many benefits around team building, improving connection to the company, building morale and connecting people to communities. There are a few things that companies must recognise when starting their volunteering journey.
Gap in corporate volunteering opportunities
There is a gap in the availability of volunteering opportunities that company teams usually look for (ie. one-off, hands-on style projects). The key reasons for this gap are: charities are focused on their mission and serving their client group, and corporate volunteering is not on their radar; community groups are stretched thin and do not have the time to think about, develop and manage corporate opportunities; community groups often do not have the staff or experience to engage employee teams in a way that meets the needs of both the group and the volunteer.
Look to support — rather than overwhelm —
the group, and concentrate on the
charities’ needs and expectations.
Thinking of engaging in employee volunteering?
If you want to engage your employees in a meaningful and impactful volunteer experience, keep the following in mind:
- When contacting charities, let them know you are in ‘information gathering mode,’ are speaking to multiple groups and will be back in touch if you can support their cause.
- Look to support — rather than overwhelm — the group, and concentrate on the charities’ needs and expectations.
- Provide funds to keep your team busy for the day — just as you would if they were participating in any other team-building activity. Think about a supplies budget, along with a financial donation to cover the time it takes to plan and manage your team’s volunteer activity.
- Be flexible with your availability, don’t set a date until it is agreed upon with the community group.
- Once a commitment is made, be sure to follow through. If, for some reason, you have to reschedule, be sure to set another date immediately.
- Remember, ‘volunteering is not a day out’ — it is a commitment to a cause or organisation that deserves to be optimally managed by your team, so your employees can feel proud of what they have achieved.
- For a quality project, assign team leads to oversee the activity and ensure it is planned and executed to a high standard and is something your company can stand over.