Six Tips to Structuring a Winning Corporate Volunteer Program

6 Tips to Structure a Winning Corporate Volunteer Program

With a growing trend toward social responsibility in the business world, corporate volunteer programs (CVPs) are becoming increasingly popular. If carefully planned and executed, they create win-win-win situations. A CVP strengthens employee morale, shows company involvement in the community, and helps a good cause – all at the same time.

In this article, we’ll share some advice on creating a great corporate volunteer strategy.

1. Match Your Core Competencies with a Nonprofit’s Mission

As you consider organizations to approach, attempt to make the partnership between your company and the nonprofit a natural fit. For example, a grocery store chain teaming up with local food banks makes sense. If there isn’t a way to easily align your business with a nonprofit’s mission, the next best option is to take into consideration your company’s existing philanthropic priorities. If this is unknown or unclear, gather your internal stakeholders and get to work before going any further.

Make sure you’re listing your volunteer opportunities on the leading volunteer opportunity platforms like:

2. Defining Goals for the Program

What do you want to accomplish with volunteerism? Of course you would like to help the nonprofit, but many organizations also seek additional gain. Perhaps you are looking to use group volunteerism as a team-building experience for employees. The added publicity for your organization can also be a nice byproduct.

Whatever the goals, now is the time to define them and set benchmarks to measure success. You should also draft a mini-marketing plan to help get the word out and support the achievement of your goals.

3. Set Clear Parameters

How will you structure your CVP? Will you allow paid time off for volunteerism? If so, what will be the maximum amount of hours you will allow per quarter (or per year)? Or will the volunteering be in addition to the workweek? Will the company contribute a set amount of funds (e.g. fifty cents or a dollar) for each hour volunteered? Will individuals or small groups volunteer at different times, or will all the hours be contributed on a specific day for a large event, such as a festival or walk-a-thon type activity?

As you can see, there are many details you need to think through before launching your CVP. Start by thinking like an employee and list out potential questions that may be asked. Develop a set of rules based on this slate of questions, but be prepared to update the list of parameters on a regular basis.

4. Consider Offering a Dollars for Doers Program

Dollars for Doers programs are programs in which companies provide grants to nonprofits which employees are passionate about. They’re a way for your company to allocate your corporate giving dollars to the organizations which employees are regularly involved with.

They’re typically structured in one of two ways:

  • A company will donate $X to a nonprofit after an employee volunteers for Y hours (ex. a $250 grant after 25 hours of volunteering)
  • A company will donate $X to a nonprofit for every hour an employee volunteers (ex. $8 per volunteer hour up to 50 volunteer hours per year)

Dollars for Doers programs are a great way to structure a winning corporate volunteer program by taking a a bottoms-up approach to corporate philanthropy.

5. Explore Partnership Opportunities

Once you have defined the parameters, now is the time to start pitching your idea. When approaching a potential nonprofit, ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator about your ideas and see if there is a fit. Keep in mind that you are looking for fun projects that will motivate your employees to volunteer. If a natural fit isn’t there, don’t be afraid to tactfully say so and move down your list of prospects.

Once you find a nonprofit that fits your needs, work with the volunteer coordinator to identify key performance indicators for your employee volunteers. These can be used for both promotional purposes and to evaluate the program. This should include, at the very least, the names of those who participated and the number of volunteer hours for each participant. It should also include a description of what the volunteers did while donating time.

If possible, also find out how many people were served as well as any other relevant data that the volunteer coordinator can provide. If you set these expectations in advance, your partner’s volunteer coordinator won’t be surprised, and you will easily get the numbers you need.

6. Advertise Volunteer Events to Employees

With the details of your CVP in place, you will be able to excite and mobilize your employees about the program. Make sure supervisors are on board to help create departmental awareness, and be sure to follow up through various channels, such as in memos, email, and flyers in break rooms.

Using this model, it won’t be long before you’re celebrating the success of a well-planned corporate volunteer program.