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Employee Volunteering

Get Started

It will take time to gain an understanding of the non-profit sector and to build an effective employee volunteering program. Enlist the help of your colleagues by creating a corporate volunteering committee or action group.

Make one of your first tasks, establishing your desired outcome, be it team building or fulfilling part of your corporate social responsibility plan. Getting clear about your goals will help you to create the model of employee volunteering that’s right for your business.

Find Employees

How you set up your employee volunteering program is your call. If you own a small business, arranging a one-time volunteering experience may make more sense. If your company is larger, you may let people pick a cause they feel passionate about or you can encourage employees to volunteers for a specific organization. (If you need to provide volunteer spots for many employees, look for a non-profit organization that has the capacity to deal with large groups and consider offering a financial contribution to support the costs associated with your activity.)

In the beginning, focus your efforts on a few employees who are excited about volunteering, rather than trying to push people who are unmotivated to participate. The passionate few can create enthusiasm by sharing their great experiences to their co-workers. 

Spark Interest

To generate further buzz about your employee volunteering program, write about your activities on your blog and newsletter, then share them on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. You can also build momentum with staff by creating volunteering contests or competitions.

Locate Non-Profit Organizations

Look on SPARK for volunteering opportunities suitable for groups or corporations. Alternatively, your employees can search for an opportunity that matches their interests. if you do not have a corporate social responsibility manager, you may find it fruitful to touch base with a volunteer centre. Although they may charge a fee for finding or creating employee volunteering opportunities, think of the time and effort you will save. 

Don’t limit yourself to organizations that advertise their interest in corporate volunteering. Check out other non-profit organizations on SPARK park or browse 211Ontario.ca. While researching, look at each nonprofit’s mission statement and its needs. Could the skills of your employees benefit the organization? If you find an organization that looks like a fit, contact them to set up a time when you can explain the benefits of a corporate volunteering partnership.

Prepare to Negotiate

At times, you may run into an organization that appears hesitant to agree to an employee volunteering program. Although you may view volunteers as “free help,” volunteering isn’t free―it costs money to recruit, manage and retain volunteers. Volunteer coordinators often work part-time or have other duties besides managing volunteers, so they can’t always respond quickly to a request to provide positions, especially if it involves large groups of employees. You may need to shift your expectations around time, dates or group size or find another organization who can accommodate you.

Messages of Hope on a Grey Day

Your Stories

Reflections of a student volunteer: I think that I will always remember Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Driving to the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre I doubted how drawing messages on the sidewalk with chalk could make a substantial effect on a person's life. It was a cold and wet day with no sun. Our class pulled up in our yellow school bus at about 9:15 am, our teacher directed us to this open, garden like area with sidewalks at the very front of the hospital. From this area we could see many windows from which patients, doctors, nurses, etc. would soon be seeing our art. Our class of 39 students split into two groups. My group toured the hospital first. What I gained most from this tour was an understanding of what patients would be experiencing daily. Seeing the patients that were fighting to live and understanding their treatments helped me to understand how great our impact would be. Stepping out of the hospital and seeing all the messages that the other group had written was absolutely inspiring. All together my classmates and I drew sidewalk chalk drawings for two hours, writing inspiring messages like “You Go Girl!”, “We are Proud of You”, “You're Doing Great!” etc., making drawings, and just putting colours on the dull sidewalk. Our hands were cold but our excitement for the patients to see the finished product kept us going. I remember seeing patients walk by and smile. This helped me to see our impact. At the very end of the two hours I walked down the whole garden area that we had drawn on, wishing I could see how the patients would see it from the windows. I saw so many bright messages, and drawings and prayed that the patients would be able to make out what they said. I remember thinking “We made a difference. I made a difference.” I left feeling like I was somewhat connected with the patients up in the hospital looking down at us. On the ride home we got a message from one of the doctors, a student’s mother, who we had seen before we starting drawing. It read “Please thank everyone. The messages are so big and bright. You can see them so well from the windows. Sandra, our chief nurse in the systemic suite, is telling all the patients to have a look.” On this dreary, cold, gross day, all the patients, both fighting to kill cancer and fighting to live with it, would be looking out the windows and seeing our messages. Families with kids our age and younger would look out the window and feel happy, maybe forgetting for a minute about how their loved one is struggling to fight cancer, or being inspired to feel that they can keep fighting. This service initiative left me knowing that I could make a change, that in this huge world with 7.53 billion people, I myself could help. -- Abby S.

On Tues. May 28, 2019, the Grade 9 class of St. John's-Kilmarnock school filled the sidewalks in fron...

Spark Plugs

Great stuff from around the world. Check back often to see what's new!

Looking for evidence about the benefits of employer supported volunteering? Check out this recent report from Statistics Canada that shows employers make a positive impact on volunteering overall when they support it in their workplace.

When it comes to effectively engaging volunteers with professional skills, planning ahead can make all the difference! Check out this blog post for tips on how to make the most of this experience for both the volunteer and the nonprofit.

The research is in! Doctors should prescribe volunteering for an improvement in overall health. Read the article here.

This Top 6 Trends Infographic gives insights into developing a kickbutt workplace giving program. They say that volunteerism is at the core of employee engagement - but we already knew that!

Wanting to encourage family volunteering within your organization? Check out Volunteer Canada's resource area for Family Volunteering.

Check out what Doing Good Together in Minneapolis is doing to make it easy and fun for families to volunteer together. Check out their site for tips on how to do it too.

HP's employee shoreline cleanup initiative helped Amy fulfill her passion for sustainability and improved employee morale. Read her story here.

Studies show that the most successful corporate volunteering programs come from their employees drive to make a difference.Read about it here.

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