Why Do Employee Volunteer Groups Want What They Want?


Ring, ring. It’s a company calling, and they want to come volunteer with your organization. Hooray, right?

Well, that all depends. While some nonprofits really do thrive when working in partnership with great employee volunteer programs and groups, others dread and even avoid them. Most organizations fall in between: they’ll try to find a way to welcome a corporate volunteering team even if the fit is not exactly right in terms of project, people, or mission.

The reasons for this, says Toronto-based blogger and employee volunteer program consultant Chris Jarvis, are often requests from companies that many organizations find difficult to manage.

Over at his Realized Worth blog, Jarvis is midway through a seven-part series about what companies want when they volunteer. Each post in the series looks at a different request frequently asked by companies and explores how nonprofits can respond effectively.

If you recognize these requests from companies, you’ll know what Jarvis is talking about:

  • Opportunities that can be undertaken in a day
  • Opportunities that can be done together as a team
  • Opportunities that have intrinsic value
  • Opportunities that don’t clash with other objectives
  • Opportunities that enhance the skills of their employees
  • Opportunities that align with the company’s professed causes
  • Opportunities that fit what employees actually want to do

While there are good reasons companies want what they want, it’s critical for organizations to understand the root objectives underlying these requests — but not so they can be ignored or rejected. As Jarvis writes:

…while it’s good for you, the nonprofit, to know what companies want, it’s equally important for you to know why they want it. Assessing “why” will guide you to a solution that’s better for you, your community, and their company.

The first post looks at responding to companies that want to narrowly control the schedule of their volunteers, and the second post looks at why companies often insist on the activities be done as a team.

Does your organization work with corporate volunteer groups? If so, what kind of requests do you find hard to refuse?

(Photo: Goleta Valley Beautiful)