Corporate Volunteer Programs: A Primer for Companies Interested in Philanthropy

Corporate volunteerism is on the rise. Nearly 6 million people identify themselves as volunteer ready on professional networking site LinkedIn. Giving grew for 56% of companies between 2012 and 2014, and it increased by more than 10% for 42% of companies. Also on the rise, companies who offer their employees the ability to get paid time off for providing volunteer or pro bono services.



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It’s not shocking that the changes in the workforce should move toward an alignment with giving back; from the dual perspectives of time and money. Millennials now make up the largest generation in the workforce and multiple data points and trend surveys point to Generation Y as needing to find meaning in their work. In recruitment efforts to attract Millennials to your company, consider these facts around generations and corporate volunteerism from the 2014 Millennial Impact Report

  • Of Millennial employees surveyed, 92% felt they were actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world
  • Of the Millennials who heard about cause work in the interview, 55% of them said the company’s involvement with causes helped persuade them to take the job.
  • 52% of employees who had volunteered 4 to 10 hours and 55% of employees who had volunteered 10 to 20 hours in the past month were interested in their company’s cause work during the job search.
  • 63% of female employees and 45% of male employees said their company’s cause work influenced them to accept a job.

Long story short, if a company wants to recruit and hire a talented, civic-minded Millennial company volunteerism is a big draw. Millennials between the ages of 25 to 30 were more likely to accept a position if they heard about “cause work” or corporate volunteerism in the interview. But Millennials aren’t the only ones who like their employment to come with a side of “giving back”. Other generations give generously as well. See how:

  • The mature generation (born 1945 or earlier) – 79% give
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) – 67% give
  • Generation X (1965-1980) – 58% give
  • Generation Y (1981-1991) – 56% give

Building Your Corporate Volunteerism Beta Program

Giving at work resonates with prospective employees and internal employees as well. Here’s how to institute a great corporate volunteer program internally:

  1. Understand your company’s business plan and goals and find charities and volunteer organizations that align with your corporate goals or departmental goals. Did you know CyberGrants’ organization management system houses more than 2.1 million charities?
  2. Find and recruit internal ambassadors from various departments including Human Resources, Service and at least one executive stakeholder.
  3. Write down goals around corporate philanthropy, charitable giving and any pro bono work your company offers. Decide which parameters and expectations will define your corporate volunteer program.
  4. Map the aforementioned goals to total business outcomes.
  5. Select a department that can test the program to check results and participation rates.
  6. Create your pitch for various programs and monitor impact.

#DYK: Giving grew for 56% of companies between 2012 and 2014. Here's how to keep the trend going:Tweet This!

Scaling Corporate Volunteerism Company-Wide

Of course, once you’ve implemented a successful pilot, the real work begins. Promoting these results and advocating for the ambassadors and participants is crucial in order to scale the corporate volunteerism company-wide and gain widespread adoption. Following a strict change management plan can make the difference between a vibrant corporate volunteering program and one that fizzles and dies.

Why Bother with Corporate Volunteerism?

The Volunteer IMPACT Survey published by Deloitte shows that 78% of employees would rather work for an ethical and reputable company than receive a higher salary, so companies have a vested interest in building a corporate volunteerism program that works.

In other research, the University of Texas at Austin and the Points of Light Foundation found volunteer programs can help develop employee skills, improve leadership skills, create teamwork opportunities and create more job satisfaction. 58% of companies use employee volunteer programs for recruiting and keeping employees, and 97% of employee-volunteer managers felt corporate volunteerism improved teamwork within teams.

The Basics of a Great Volunteerism Program

  • Make it attractive to all employees: The evidence is overwhelming that employees want to give when given the opportunity. So create opportunities for them. From skills development pro bono programs to teamwork focused outings, there can be programs for everyone to participate in, no matter their fitness or skill level.
  • Communicate across multiple channels: People can’t join if they don’t know about your program. While email alerts, SMS text or internal groups as well as traditional means like flyers and company meetings are great to spread the word, there’s nothing like a complete organization management system to coordinate your employees’ philanthropic goals.
  • Provide alternatives to the main focus: Sometimes dates and times don’t work out for everyone else or people would rather give monetary gifts. Give them options to contribute even if they can’t be physically there or find the time in their schedule to volunteer.
  • Make it mobile: Today’s workforce needs options that are available on the go. If your program is hidden behind an impenetrable firewall or buried in the company intranet, it may be extremely hard to gain company-wide traction. Offer opportunities that employees can access anytime, anywhere.

Corporate volunteer programs are a recruiting tool, a skills development pathway and an employee engagement and branding opportunity that more companies are building into their business objectives. The reasons are clear, the best practices are outlined above, the research is in, when will your team embark on a company-wide volunteer program?


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