Preparing for Effective Corporate Volunteering

corporate volunteering

Corporate volunteering is becoming more and more popular. It’s a powerful way for social impact organisations to build capacity, gain resources, and foster relationships with businesses in their community. To get the most value, however, you need to be well-prepared. Here are some strategies that can help you maximize the benefits of corporate volunteering groups.

Understand your own needs and goals.

Before reaching out to or accepting corporate groups, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what your organisation needs. Identify areas where a group of volunteers can make a significant impact on your mission. Don’t spend time putting together make-work projects just to satisfy their requirements. All volunteers, including corporate ones, need tasks that advance the mission. Having a well-defined list of needs will make it easier to match a corporate group with the right project. If you don’t have anything that would suit them, it’s better to ask them to try elsewhere than waste your time on something that doesn’t really help the cause.

Build relationships with companies.

Successful corporate volunteering partnerships are built on strong relationships. Reach out to local businesses and start building connections with their community engagement or corporate social responsibility teams. Attend networking events or join local business associations and speak about your organisation. Building relationships takes time but it pays off in the long run, as a good relationship will lead to recurring offers of support.

Align with corporate goals.

Understanding and aligning with the goals of the corporate partner can enhance the partnership. Many companies have specific areas of focus for their community engagement efforts, such as education, health, or the environment. By aligning your volunteer opportunities with these focus areas, you can create a more meaningful and beneficial partnership.

Work closely with the corporate volunteering lead.

Good communication with the company and the person assigned to manage the group will lead to a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Clarify dates and times, send waivers and other required forms so they can be filled out ahead of time, confirm the number of people in the group, etc. The better the communication, the fewer chances for things to go sideways.

Plan activities with a clear impact.

Corporate volunteers look for opportunities that have impact. Choose projects that allow volunteers to see the direct impact of their work, whether it’s assembling care packages, mentoring clients, or helping with a community clean-up. When volunteers feel that their efforts are making a difference, they are more likely to stay engaged and return for future opportunities, both with the company and on their own.

Provide training and support.

While corporate groups tend to only come in for a single day or at most a weekend, they may still need some level of training and support to be effective. Offer a brief orientation session that covers the basics of your organisation, its mission, and the specific project they will be working on. Provide necessary materials and tools, and assign a staff member or experienced volunteer to supervise and assist the corporate group. Ongoing support and clear communication are key to ensuring that volunteers can contribute effectively and feel valued.

Publicly recognize the company.

One of the reasons that companies send out corporate volunteering groups is for the marketing aspect. Develop a system for recognizing their contributions, whether through a certificate the company can display, or public acknowledgment on your website and social media. Encourage them to take pictures and post about the event on their networks, as well. It’s a great way to spread the word about your organisation and its mission.

Collect and share stories of impact.

Even if the tasks that you assigned don’t have a clear line to the mission, companies are often interested in understanding the impact of their employees’ efforts. Collect and send them stories, photos, and data that demonstrate the difference their contributions have made. This develops a feedback loop that helps reinforce the value of their involvement and can motivate them to engage again and again.

Evaluate and improve.

I’m a huge fan of reviews and event debriefs! After each corporate volunteering event, take the time to evaluate what worked well and what could be improved. Gather feedback from the company to understand their perspectives. Use this information to refine your process and address any challenges. Continuous improvement helps ensure that future corporate volunteering experiences are even more effective and rewarding.

Develop long-term partnerships.

Finally, aim to create long-term partnerships with corporate groups rather than just one-off volunteer events. Long-term partnerships can lead to more substantial and sustained support, both in terms of volunteer time and financial contributions. Stay in touch with your corporate partners. Keep them informed about your organisation’s progress and let them know about other opportunities that they might be interested in.

By taking these steps, you can maximize the value of corporate volunteer groups, creating win-win-win situations that benefit both you, your corporate partners and, ultimately, the cause. With some thoughtful preparation and ongoing relationship-building, corporate volunteering can become a cornerstone of your volunteer program.

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