How to Design a Volunteer Program for Your Small Business

Guest post by Scott Huntington

Tips for designing a volunteer program for your small business.As a small business, finding ways to give back is important. Volunteering is a way to do something “better” for the community your business is in. It allows your employees to cooperate in a new way and creates a sense of empowerment.

However, creating a volunteer program for your business might not be the easiest task in the world. With thousands of choices available, how do you decide in which direction to proceed?

Why Choose a Cause?

Even though the benefits for giving and volunteering in the workplace are hard to dispute, many small business struggle to choose a specific cause to support. It’s difficult; you may have employees with a variety of causes close to their hearts, or have hesitations about aligning with one specific cause. When these barriers exist, volunteering efforts fall short, never take off or become scattered. None of these help your mission to give back. Choosing a cause and committing to it is a good way to stay focused and effective in your volunteer program.

5 Questions to Consider When Designing a Program

Below are a few questions and factors to consider when creating a volunteer program for your small business:

1. Does my business already donate to something?

Does your business already donate to a specific cause? If so, developing a volunteer program can be a no-brainer; simply align your actions with your giving. It’s likely your employees are already engaged in the cause and would be enthusiastic if volunteer opportunities would become available. If they’re not engaged, it may be time to find something that they’re more likely to care about.

2. Is there a natural relationship between our products/services and a specific cause?

Think about the products and/or services your business provides. Is there a natural link between those services and ways you could volunteer? For example, a shoe retailer could donate shoes to an underprivileged country – like TOMS has been doing for years. From there, the company could create mission trips and other ways for employees to become involved in the giving process.

Smaller companies like Mr. Rooter or AquaPhoenix, where clean water is the entire point of their business, could find a charity that is dedicated to providing the world with clean water. Food business or wholesalers could donate food to local food kitchens and employees could volunteer on a rotating schedule. Is there a natural link between your products and a volunteering opportunity? If so, that’s a perfect place to start.

3. Is there a local charity you could become involved with?

Sometimes the biggest movements start locally. Local initiatives are likely to be important to your employees and make excellent starting points for volunteerism. Run a search on a site like or reach out to your local Chamber to find out what charities surround your business’s physical location. Find out if there’s a way to get involved.

When you volunteer locally, you’re able to see the results first hand, and this could raise the excitement factor among your employees. It also can create a little positive buzz about the company and maybe even get your name in the local paper, which is always a plus. That shouldn’t be your motivation, but it’s a nice perk of going local.

4. Does my business have past ventures or partners that could have available volunteering opportunities?

Look back over the history of your business. Have any of your past clients been nonprofit organizations or charities? If so, you could revive the relationship by looking for ways to volunteer with those past clients. It adds a personal factor that highlights the fact you value your past clients and customers.

5. What matters to my employees?

While your employees may change from time to time, it’s still important to empower them to get involved in the design of a volunteer program. Set up a meeting to announce your company’s new focus and let them know their input matters. From there, put together a survey and encourage all employees to participate. You could provide a list of 5 potential charities, or ask employees to submit their own ideas. Look for overlap and narrow it down to two. From there, hold a vote. When your employees feel as though they’ve been a part of the process, they’re more likely to take ownership and to become involved in the volunteering process.

Creating a volunteer program is an essential aspect of giving back to and becoming part of your business’s community. If you’re unsure of where to start inside your company or organization, consider the 5 questions above prior to moving forward.

Has your small business implemented a volunteer program? Tell us about it!

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger with a passion for volunteering. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog,

13 thoughts on “How to Design a Volunteer Program for Your Small Business”

  • 1
    Roz Wollmering on October 17, 2014

    Very practical advice. Small businesses can be vital to local causes and place based solutions. Engagement with volunteers leafers could also be helpful in designing the program. Very encouraging – thanks!

  • 2
    Alusine kamara on February 23, 2018

    am intending to run a volunteer business where I will make placement centers for volunteers,interns and researchers and they will be change a minimum cost for this services, people will reach me online and i will organizes their travel information, air port pickup hotels,guset house and transportation for the time of volunteering.
    Is this a good business ?

  • 3
    writemyessaytoday on July 18, 2019

    Local charity project is the best variant for small business volunteering plan. We had an idea to create a volunteering organization affiliated to our company in a small Texas town, but the project didn’t work – the local paper refused to publish our events due to one feedback from the former employee. So yes, employees need to be aware and supportive as well.
    Scott Elliff

  • 4
    Sonia Nzongo on August 9, 2019

    Staff buy-in definitely maintains a small business EVP. We’re glad you found the tips helpful!

  • 5
    Casinority AU on October 17, 2019

    Extremely useful exhortation. Independent companies can be fundamental to nearby causes and spot based arrangements. Commitment with volunteers leafers could likewise be useful in planning the program. Encouraging – much appreciated!

  • 6
    John Hunter on October 30, 2019

    I’ve often contemplated creating a volunteer opportunity for my company. I own a plumbing company. Thinking maybe have volunteers that are interested in becoming plumbers gain some experience and find out if it is a good fit. The area I live in is in desperate need of trades people. We, meaning people, were so focused on sending our kids to school so much so that we have a big gap and need for tradesmen and women. I think this could be a great opportunity for my company, and a lot of other companies in my community. Thank you for the write-up. This was helpful.

  • 7
    Sonia Nzongo on October 31, 2019

    This is an interesting perspective that isn’t engaged more often in the mainstream. Thanks for sharing, John!

  • 8
    Apkdrod on November 10, 2019

    In fact, these are very important two nominations, I remember how closely I followed their results and winners, thank you very much for covering these events in great detail.

  • 9
    Justin on December 3, 2019

    Glad to read this interesting post. Thanks for sharing. Anyone interested to get similar article then I suggest them from a reputed website. Thank you.!

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