Are corporate volunteers part of your program’s strategy? You might want them to be.
Good journalism starts with answering the five Ws – who, what, where, when and why. The Ws, though, can be used to explain more than news stories.
They’re a great way to understand a lesser-known concept – like involving corporate volunteers.
I’m going to take them out of order, though, and start with What.
What are corporate volunteers?
There are a few different ways that a corporation or group can bolster your volunteer program, depending on how they are set up.
One is by encouraging their employees to volunteer in the community through providing paid volunteer time off or other rewards and incentives. In this case, each individual chooses which organization to volunteer with.
You, as leader of volunteers, would treat these volunteers in the same way as any regular volunteer, with perhaps a media shout-out to the company. Because of that, this blog will focus on the next method.
The second way the company can participate is in larger scale volunteer events or projects. Examples of this might be to provide a number of employees to help the organization by building new kennels for your animal shelter, or by doing a mass clean-up of a park or river.
The final way is by providing a pool of highly experienced management to serve on your Board of Directors. This would be administered in the same way as the first method.
Why corporate volunteers?
Well, besides the fact that most organizations are always looking for skilled volunteers!
By reaching out to local companies, you can increase awareness of your cause. Depending on the size of the company, you may introduce your organization to dozens or hundreds of new converts. This not only can bring you new volunteers, but it may also bring you new donors. Also, when corporations are involved with an organization, it is to their benefit to promote what they’re doing, so you get the spin-off marketing.
By having a corporate group come in to do large-scale projects, you can reduce the wear and tear on regular volunteers. This can help reduce burnout, and allows the regulars to keep to their usual schedule. An extra bonus of having corporate groups is that you don’t need to do the regular screening and training that you would have to do for individual volunteers. The company is responsible for the behaviour of their staff while volunteering for you, and roles for events and projects tend not to require the same in-depth training that other roles may require.
Who are the companies that have volunteering programs?
Okay, so now that you know what corporate volunteers can do, and why you might want to involve them, who are they??
Start by talking with other organizations in your community. Who have they brought in to do project work? What was their experience like? Next, reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade. They may have a list of companies that are willing to do volunteer work, or they may allow you to reach out to their members. Finally, use good-old Google. Research those companies that have been noted for volunteer work in the past. You may come across old news articles about their contributions, or they may even have a page on their website dedicated to their social impact work. Most multinational organizations (Starbucks, for example) have social impact departments that handle volunteering.
Where do you start?
You’ve decided that you want to involve corporate volunteers. You may even know a couple of companies that have volunteer programs. Now what? Where do you start? First, look at the tasks and projects that you have coming up. Is there something that needs doing that you’ve been putting off because you don’t want to overload the volunteers you currently have? Reach out to the group and find out if they’re interested and what they need from you to move forward.
When should you involve corporate volunteers?
Bringing in corporate volunteers for one-off tasks is ideal. Rather than involving them in day-to-day tasks, think in terms of projects. Maybe your thrift store needs to be reorganized, or your hospice needs to be painted. Perhaps you have a fundraising event coming up, or a food drive. Maybe you just need a new fence built! These kinds of projects are ideal for group volunteering. You say what needs doing, and the company brings in the people to do it. You can even target specific companies for specific projects – a construction company to build your fence, for example. This gives you skilled labour, and it gives the company a chance to market themselves.
Involving corporate volunteers should be a key part of your program’s strategy.
There are incredible benefits all around: to your organization and the cause it serves, the company you partner with, and the volunteers themselves.
And that’s the five Ws of corporate volunteering. As for that tag-along question, “How” (ie: how do you set up your program to involve them?), I’ll answer that in another blog!