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The Why and How of Effective Corporate Volunteer Programs

Companies, whether large or small, have more than their products and services that can be used to deliver benefits to their employees, business and communities. While many companies have philanthropic activities, such as making donations, there is a growing understanding of the benefits of meaningful corporate volunteer programs.

 

When companies give back to the communities in which they operate it is an effective way to assist in driving social and environmental benefits and change. For volunteer programs to be effective, and deliver long term impact, like any program, they need to be well thought through, have a deep understanding of key issues and partner with local non-profit organizations, government agencies and community groups.

A poorly run volunteer program can negatively affect community partners and those they represent, at worse it can actually cause harm.

Here are four reasons why employee volunteer programs make good business sense

1.       1) Improved employee engagement and retention

There is a growing body of evidence to support that Corporate volunteer programs actually drive employee engagement and employees report greater satisfaction, higher morale, resulting in greater productivity and profitability.

It is a great way for employees to find pride in the company they represent and the communities they are a part of, to share a common purpose bigger than themselves and to give back.

2.       2) Employee Recruitment

One of the biggest challenges a business faces is attracting and hiring the best local talent. Meaningful employee volunteer programs are a way of differentiating your Company and attracting high value employees and a way to deliver growth for the company and the employee. Having a purpose-driven company will deliver long term business benefits and future employees.

3.       3) Skill Development

Corporate volunteer programs can be an effective way for employees to develop skills that will not only benefit nonprofits and communities but be beneficial to their job performance and growth including leadership skills, problem solving, team work, evaluation and collaboration thinking.

4.       4) Building a strong Company profile

An employee volunteering program done well can assist with brand recognition and better reputation, a competitive advantage and publicly demonstrate a company’s commitment to meaningful social and environmental causes. It is also Providing excellent networking opportunities for your staff.

Community and nonprofit benefitsof Corporate Volunteer Programs

Communities and nonprofits also benefit from employee volunteer programs by being provided resources, time, expertise, products and opportunities that otherwise might be at a too higher cost or not provided at all. Other benefits include;

 

  • ·         Collaboration opportunities assisting the understanding between companies and nonprofits.
  • ·         Help improve the quality of life in communities
  • ·         Gives capacity to provide community services that otherwise might be impossible

 

Ways your Company can participate in Corporate volunteer programs

For an employee volunteer program to be effective and provide benefit to social and environmental causes, it is important to be employee-driven and a bottom-up approach, and a way to contribute strategic value to the business.

There are many ways a company can think about volunteering and giving programs;

1.      Corporate teams partnering with nonprofits on specific projects and offering expertise for a defined period of time and can be anywhere from hours/ week or a block of time. For example, a company can send a team of HR professionals to partner with a nonprofit in three months to improve the nonprofit’s human resources management, including its recruitment and personnel policy. 

2.   Companies can offer specific skill-based consultancy services to nonprofits, including company expertise and/or technical assistance. For example, law firms in Ho Chi Minh City, including YKVN Lawyers, RAJAH & TANN LCT Lawyers, offer pro bono services to nonprofits by providing legal advice and/or composing memorandum on the Vietnam laws and regulations that regulate nonprofits. A website development company could provide website design service and digital marketing solutions to a nonprofit that wants to improve its internet-based communication. 

3.     Individual employees are given a nominated paid number of hours per month/ year to volunteer their time and expertise to non-profit organisations and causes. Some companies encourage their employees to volunteer through initiatives that benefit both employees and the nonprofits. For example, Intel awards cash grants to eligible organizations based on the number of hours that Intel employees volunteer.

The main objective of company volunteer programs should focus on making a real and long-lasting impact in the communities in which the company operates. Good management of corporate volunteer programs will result in a greater impact in the community and deliver employee and business benefits which is the ultimate goal of volunteering!


Article by By Jenny O’Brien, Corporate Donor & CSR Strategic Advisor - LIN Center for Community Development

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