Adopt a cause, take turns and make an impact
Embedding a corporate volunteering programme into a company strategy is a great way to make a positive difference – not only to a social organisation working for a cause but also to company culture and employee satisfaction. But to be most effective, long-term commitment is needed. And balancing that commitment with the need to accommodate busy team schedules can be challenging. ‘Adopting’ a volunteer job as a team can help companies meet the challenge.
Doing it right
As well as making a difference to people, communities and the environment, corporate volunteering creates a culture of social responsibility within the company and between employees, promoting team bonding and strengthening employees' relationships. But it’s important to get it right. Poorly thought-out initiatives can result in a waste of resources and time as well as a less satisfactory experience for volunteers and the community partner.
While ‘one-off’ activities have their uses, a social organisation benefits from knowing that it can rely on regular support; on volunteers who’ll commit to regular hours on a regular schedule, and then turn up as they promised.
But from a company’s point of view, a corporate volunteering programme needs to be flexible – work-related emergencies crop up, team members get sick or go on holiday, and last-minute client demands must be met. These are all valid reasons why an individual may not be able to keep their volunteering appointment, but they still mean disappointing your community partner and potentially damaging the relationship.
One way of solving this is with a rotating volunteer schedule incorporating multiple colleagues. This is a great way of ensuring commitments are met without inconveniencing or stressing the overall team.
How it works
Say, for example, you want to support a local initiative that needs volunteers every weekday to carry out its activities. Out of your team of 40 people, 30 are interested in taking part in corporate volunteering. You can agree with your social partner that your team will ‘adopt’ one day a week and make 2 people available on that day. That’s 104 employee days a year – meaning each of those 30 team members will average 3.5 days of volunteering annually.
That’s a realistic commitment for a company to make – especially when there’s the flexibility to swap days among the team if something unexpected happens. Team members can also share experiences and brief new colleagues on what the volunteer work involves. And the social organisation has the security of knowing that it is guaranteed the help it needs on a regular basis, enabling them to plan their activities more effectively.
There’s always a way to help
If your company is small and has fewer volunteer hours to offer, it's still possible to make a firm commitment to a cause. You could agree with your team on a number of set days over the coming year when everyone will take part in some kind of voluntary work, and then plan accordingly. This helps the social organisations with their planning as well. In addition to volunteering time, there are plenty of other ways companies can get involved. Donating office supplies, for example, or laptops and computers when you update employees’ equipment. Sharing expertise and knowledge is also a good way to support social organisations – advice on fund-raising, for instance, or helping create a social media strategy that will spread the word about their work.
Get in touch
There are all kinds of ways to strengthen your corporate volunteering policy and meet your company’s goals. Business Involved can connect you with the causes that match your company’s vision and values and help you build the long-term relationships that turn good intentions into measurable impact. Get in touch to arrange a tailor-made session and take your corporate volunteering programme to the next level.