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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.