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5 Tips for Creating Corporate Volunteer Programs
Corporate volunteer programs provide excellent opportunities for businesses to create a positive corporate image, establish friendly relations among staff members and, most importantly, do something good for the community. In a corporate volunteer program, a company partners with a nonprofit organization, encouraging its staff to become advocates of a cause. The program can range from a single day of volunteer service to an intimate partnership that lasts years. In all, these programs enable businesses to create positive change in the community, while improving morale within the company.
Ready to start volunteering? Here are 5 quick tips for establishing a corporate volunteer program for your enterprise:
1) CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAUSE.
Select a cause that complements both the interests of your employees and your enterprise. Your staff will need to be fully invested in order for your volunteer program to be successful. Before deciding to partner with a specific organization, reach out to your team members to identify their interests. Many people might already be engaged with a particular nonprofit or campaign, and if so, they will be more enthusiastic about participating in your program if it supports a cause for which they already advocate. Distributing a survey or a questionnaire is an easy way to gather information about existing community involvement within your company. You might also consider encouraging employees to nominate a cause.
2) MAKE SURE YOUR COMPANY IS A GOOD FIT.
It is important to select a nonprofit that is appropriate for your company’s size, interests and objectives. If you have a large company, you’ll probably want to avoid a partnership with a small nonprofit that can only accommodate a few volunteers at a time. As Issie Lapowsky explains in her article “How to Start a Volunteer Program,” it is essential to not only confirm that the nonprofit has a significant impact in the community, but also that your company will have an impact on the nonprofit. An organization and a company might, independent of one another, do great things for the community, but if your business is a mismatch with the nonprofit, your partnership will not be successful.
3) DETERMINE PROGRAM OBJECTIVES.
Your company will first need to decide on the duration of the program. A day of service requires less planning than a long-term commitment. However, the longer the commitment the greater the potential meaning and reward for your employees. You should also consider the amount of money you can donate towards the campaign. Create a budget before approaching the partner organization so that you know exactly how much you able, and willing, to spend on the project. It might be helpful to appoint a staff member or committee to manage and allocate funds. Lastly, designate specific and realistic goals that you would like to accomplish by the end of the program.
4) PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERS.
Employees might be hesitant to participate in a volunteer program if your corporation has never previously encouraged community involvement. It is important for the CEO and company directors to join their staff in volunteering to prove they are personally invested in the cause. Employees will be more comfortable to take off work to volunteer if management does the same. In fact, one way to encourage involvement is to appropriate a specific number of paid days for volunteering. For example, Ben and Jerry’s allots 40 days out of the year for paid service. Many members take advantage of this opportunity and often become closer to one another in the process. In addition, people are generally more motivated to be active if they are knowledgeable about an issue. For instance, if your employees understand the root causes of poverty, they will be inspired to take action and continue involvement beyond the duration of your program. Finally, make sure to recognize the work that your staff does. Recognition can take the form of a certificate, celebratory event, or personal thank you from the CEO.
5) EVALUATE THE SUCCESS OF THE PROGRAM.
A crucial component of your volunteer program will be to reflect on the progress and results of your efforts. Analyze the impact of the campaign from the perspective of the organization, the company and the employees. How helpful was your involvement for the nonprofit? Did your company benefit from the experience? Did your employees learn anything from their service? Questionnaires, journals and interviews can help you collect the answers to these questions. Analyzing your involvement will help you improve the effectiveness of future employee volunteer programs.
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