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6 min read

How Employee Volunteering Is About More Than Team-Building

November 24, 2023

Four people looking at a laptop with check marks above their heads

Team-building is a great reason to organize volunteer events at your business. Employees who volunteer together have the opportunity to form closer bonds. And, at larger companies, a corporate volunteer event might be an employee’s first interaction with a co-worker from a different team or department.

However, that’s only part of the equation. Employee volunteering brings a variety of benefits to businesses and nonprofits alike, making it imperative that businesses prioritize creating corporate volunteering programs and offering different opportunities to their employees.

To help you understand how employee volunteering can be more than team building, we’ll cover its benefits for corporations and nonprofits. Then, we’ll dive into a few tips for encouraging your employees to volunteer.

Benefits of Employee Volunteering for Corporations

Volunteering is a great way for businesses and corporations to facilitate team building between their employees. It’s a chance for them to interact with one another in a more genuine setting. However, that’s not the only benefit that employee volunteering has for corporations.

A few other benefits include:

This image illustrates a few benefits of employee volunteering for corporations, alongside related images.

    • Increased employee engagement. Employee engagement is the measure of how emotionally and mentally connected an employee is with their work and workplace. Highly engaged employees are more likely to perform better at work, more likely to stay at their jobs, and more productive than their unengaged counterparts. Plus, 93% of employees who work at companies with a strong sense of purpose say they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal. This means corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives such as volunteer programs are key to increasing engagement.
  • Employee skill development. Aside from seeking employment at companies that prioritize social good, skill development and training is another key aspect that job seekers look for. After all, 55% of employees consider career growth and opportunities more important than salary. Through volunteering, employees can pick up new skills and hone their existing ones. This makes them better workers for their current and future employers.
  • Positive public image. Businesses that participate in CSR through programs such as employee volunteering gain a boost to their reputation as companies that care about giving back to the community. In addition, 77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place. Therefore, having a positive public image and a reputation for social good may translate to increased profitability for your company.
  • Networking with nonprofits. Encouraging employee volunteerism is the first step to creating connections with local nonprofits and forming partnerships with them. Although you may operate in different industries, having access to their audience will help you increase your marketing reach and connect with more potential customers.

Aside from all these other benefits, it just feels good to give back to your community! Your employees will appreciate the chance to volunteer—as long as you offer a variety of options that suit their needs. Not everyone enjoys volunteering in the exact same way, which is why it’s important to create a program with specialized opportunities in addition to a few large-scale volunteer team-building events. With a variety of volunteer initiatives, employees will be able to apply their unique passions and skills to make a difference in the community.

Benefits of Employee Volunteering for Nonprofits

When considering employee volunteering, it’s important to consider the perspective of the other side. There’s no question that nonprofits benefit from employee volunteerism, but to create an effective program, you should know the details of how volunteerism helps them.

A few benefits that nonprofits receive from employee volunteering include:

  • Recruitment. Partnering with corporate volunteer programs gives nonprofits a larger pool of potential volunteers to recruit from, ensuring that they can secure the support they need.
    • Relationship building. When you incentivize your employees to volunteer at local nonprofits, it helps those organizations form stronger volunteer relationships. This leads to continued support for the nonprofits. Plus, long-term volunteers may eventually donate to further the nonprofit’s cause.
  • Specialized skills. Individuals working at your company may possess specialized skills that nonprofits are specifically looking for. For example, employees at a marketing company may be more qualified to help by creating promotional materials for the nonprofit’s next fundraising event.
  • Networking. Much like how your business wants to form relationships with nonprofits, nonprofits want to network and connect with corporations. This can lead to valuable support for nonprofits, such as sponsorships.

When you consider these benefits, you can create more impactful volunteer programs for local nonprofits. For example, large-scale group volunteer events aren’t always the best way to serve nonprofit needs. Some nonprofits may feel obligated to accept help and may end up creating events that fit the company’s needs, but not their own. 

On the other hand, Double the Donation recommends volunteer grant programs, which encourage volunteerism in a more flexible manner. In these programs, corporations will donate to a nonprofit after an employee volunteers there for a set amount of hours. For example, you could choose to donate $100 every time an employee volunteers for 25 hours. That way, your employees will volunteer in a way that’s beneficial to the nonprofit, and you’ll follow that up with monetary support.

Tips for Encouraging Employees to Volunteer

Now that you know the benefits of employee volunteering for both businesses and nonprofits, the next step is to encourage employees to volunteer so that you and your nonprofit partners can reap these benefits.

We’ve already touched on the biggest suggestion, which is to offer multiple options to empower your employees to pursue volunteer opportunities that they would personally enjoy. This could mean partnering with a variety of different nonprofits or having different types of volunteer opportunities. For example, you might offer group volunteer opportunities at an environmental nonprofit and an animal shelter nonprofit. Or, you could offer large-group volunteer events for employees who want to socialize with coworkers and volunteer grants for employees who prefer to give back on their own.

Other tips for encouraging employee volunteering include:

  • Offer paid volunteer time off (VTO). One of the largest obstacles to employee volunteering is a lack of time. To counteract that, offer VTO at your business. You can offer an amount of VTO per month or annually, empowering employees to spend more time giving back to their community.
  • Enable flexible work schedules. If VTO is not a possibility, consider implementing flexible work schedules. Instead of requiring employees to work from 9 AM to 5 PM, instead ask them to work eight hours between 7 AM and 7 PM. This added flexibility allows employees to find more time to give back to their community.
  • Recognize volunteer work. Much like nonprofits recognize their volunteers for their hard work, your business should show its appreciation to employees who take the time to participate in social good. If you’re serious about prioritizing volunteerism, spotlight your top employee volunteers to encourage more volunteering.
  • Form partnerships with nonprofits. For many corporate volunteer programs, the onus is on the employee to find an organization to volunteer at. Give your employees more direction by partnering with specific nonprofits and recommending their volunteer opportunities to employees.
  • Invest in CSR software. If you’re getting serious about CSR, Nonprofits Source recommends investing in dedicated software. These solutions allow you to better manage your company’s social impact, including your volunteer programs.

Aside from volunteering programs, you might implement other workplace giving initiatives to encourage your employees to get involved with social good. These initiatives might include matching gift programs, employee grant stipends, or automatic payroll deductions.

Employee volunteering provides your business with a variety of benefits, from a more positive brand image to strong partnerships with nonprofits in your community. Leverage this new knowledge and the suggestions above to create or improve your company’s volunteer programs. By doing so, you’ll create robust opportunities that your employees will be excited to participate in!

Guest Contributer

Written by Guest Contributer

This article was written by a VolunteerMatch Guest Contributor.