How to Increase Employee Participation in Volunteer Programs

Jan 11, 2016 - CyberGrants

“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized, I am somebody.” –Lily Tomlin

One of the greatest benefits of having a corporate volunteer program is that it engages the workforce by providing a meaningful and valuable experience that gives back to the world. In fact, a recent CECP study found the most socially involved companies had a minimum of 50% employee participation in CSR efforts!

At CyberGrants, we believe employees want to volunteer, it’s just getting them to participate in company-wide volunteer programs that can be a little tricky. So, what can you do now to jumpstart participation in your corporate volunteer programs? We’ve got a few suggestions…

Offer Paid Time-Off for Employee Volunteering

Sometimes employees are more comfortable volunteering at a time of their own choosing, which is great because many companies offer paid time-off for volunteering. According to CECP’s research, paid time-off for employee volunteering grew from 54% to 59% in the past two years.

Giving employees the option to step away from their work without missing out on pay is a great incentive to gaining their participation. It might even encourage them to participate in other volunteer events held by the company.

To do: Get with your executive suite to see if there is any wiggle room in the PTO policy. Once you’ve determined the max your company can provide, make sure to communicate with your employees. Tell them how much time they can use, what specifically qualifies as volunteer time and if you’re offering any incentives to for volunteering like a Dollars for Doers program. Include links, parameters and ideas on how they can use their volunteer time.

Company-Wide Day of Service

If you didn’t already know, according to the 2015 Giving in Numbers study, company-wide day of service is the most successful volunteer program which is why the number of companies with this type of program grew from 48% to 58% in the past two years! Companies with a day of service experience increased participation numbers across the board. It makes sense when we take a look at these facts:

  • 77% of millennials would prefer to volunteer with their coworkers
  • 39% of managers would be more willing to participate in cause work if the CEO also participated
  • In one study, 53% of employees said a job where they can make an impact is important to their happiness.

Aside from being highly successful in driving participation, days of service offer leaders the opportunity to have their staff help with organizing tasks, leading teams and developing skills outside their usual role.

To Do: If it’s within your reach, organizing a company-wide day of service could be the best thing you do to get your employees involved in volunteering. If you don’t have the resources for a day of service, try it on a smaller scale. For example, instead of the entire company volunteering for a day, start by just having teams volunteer together and build from there. Or build cross-departmental teams so only one or two people from each group are gone at a time! Don’t forget to don company t-shirts and take pictures for Instagram or Facebook!

Skills-based Work

There’s a growing trend towards skills-based volunteer programs that play off of the strengths of the workforce. As more research is dedicated to linking performance with corporate philanthropic efforts, companies are seeing the value, both strategically and socially, in adapting their programs to utilize the skills of their people for the greater good. In fact, in the past two years companies that offer pro bono volunteer services has increased from 40% to 51%. Earlier this year, Microsoft initiated their Tech Talent for Good Program. The program utilizes the expertise of Microsoft employees to provide nonprofits around the world with much needed technical services.

Not only is this approach highly efficient from a business standpoint, but it does wonders for employee engagement and development. According to the 2015 Strengths @Work survey, 64% of employees believe building on their strengths will make them more successful in their work. What’s more is that 71% of employees who believe their managers understand what strengths they possess are more engaged and passionate in their work. What better opportunity to show employees their skills matter than when facilitating volunteer activities?

There isn’t one right way to engage employees in corporate volunteer programs, but one thing is clear: giving back undeniably impacts the workforce. Don’t give up on that notion until you’ve looked at what’s working for others and what you can do to improve employee participation in your volunteer programs. Learn how partnering with CyberGrants can help you manage and promote volunteer programs in your organization!

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