We look at the ways charities can partner with businesses to recruit volunteers
Providing employees with opportunities for volunteering has become a vital aspect of employee engagement for most corporations. The benefits of doing so include retention and recruitment of talent, improved workplace morale, and increased learning and development.
For charities, corporate volunteering provides an opportunity to address their skills gaps by matching with a business operating in those areas. The most successful partnerships are strategic, helping charities gain expertise, while rewarding businesses with a more engaged workforce.
However, this knowledge exchange came under threat during the pandemic, when employees moved from their offices to home and face-to-face volunteering became all but impossible as a result of lockdown.
Corporate volunteering activities had to be rethought along new parameters – how much time did employees have now? Could volunteering be done remotely? Could businesses justify the costs of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes during a global pandemic?
Thankfully, amid all this change, the appetite for volunteering remained high, especially among younger employees.
More than half of employees under the age of 35 say they want to volunteer more than they do, and two in five say workplace volunteering initiatives are a key influence on their charity work.
With employees currently preparing to return to the office, the time is ripe for charities to harness that volunteering spirit in aid of their own cause.
Here we explore some of the key ways that charities can encourage businesses to donate their skills to a cause in need of them, and the facts and figures they need to back it up.
Paid volunteering days are now a staple of the corporate calendar. From banks and tech companies, to insurance brokers and energy suppliers, there are many businesses that offer paid time off to support charities and ‘do their bit’ for local communities.
Such initiatives, as we’ve mentioned, became more logistically difficult during the pandemic, but as the world begins to open up, it follows that volunteering opportunities will too.
Whether its 50 volunteers for a one-off, day-long project, or if charities need a handful of dedicated volunteers every few months, or even just ad hoc support, tapping into a bank of volunteers ready to give them a helping hand could make such a difference.
Take the Sage Foundation, for example. Over the past five years, Sage’s charitable scheme has donated 120,000 working days to charities. Imagine what this sort of time could do for a cause.
London-based charities can advertise volunteering opportunities on the London City Hall website, with a dedicated section for employer supported volunteering, while sites like Do IT and Reach Volunteering are dedicated to connecting organisations with the right volunteers.
We know that volunteering as a team is a fantastic way for employees to bond, so when they get back into the office they’re better at communicating with and supporting each other.
But teams of volunteers can give charities a bigger bank of ambassadors for your organisation who can spread the word about the amazing work you do.
Wellbeing is currently at the top of the agenda for businesses everywhere, so this is a good time for them to be looking for volunteering opportunities.
Reaching out to businesses to remind them that volunteering is a good way to drive team morale and wellbeing can therefore pay dividends when it comes to driving support in the future.
Remember that 71% of employees saw improvements in their mental health and wellbeing after volunteering, while companies which offer volunteering days or schemes report fewer sick days, as employees feel more satisfied and motivated in their job.
Volunteering is also a good way to upskill teams. More than nine in ten hiring managers say that volunteering improves an employees’ broader professional skillset and is an effective way to improve leadership skills.
As well as developing skills that can help employees in their day-to-day jobs, learning a new skill adds to a person’s sense of worth, boosting their motivation and positively affecting their overall wellbeing. It could also help them with their career progression within the business.
For a charity, this brings opportunities to put volunteers to work in different areas – either on the front line or in your head office in a team or department that challenges them – wherever you need the most support and somewhere they could provide a fresh perspective.
Whether its digital mapping for humanitarian charities or financial support, there are plenty of ways that businesses can help charities. Charities should be clear about their mission and skills needs, and help businesses align with them strategically to address them.
Charities probably hear repeatedly that people want to join them because they want to give back and have more fulfilment in their job. So why should its own employees not be able to volunteer in other parts of the business too?
Asking head office staff to spend some time working on the front line could really help bolster the meaning of their work on a day-to-day basis, by experiencing first-hand the impact of the services the organisation offers.
Setting up an internal rotation system gives employees the opportunity to find value in their work and means your organisation can benefit from all of the above business benefits. Ultimately, increased staff engagement and retention means greater support for the community your organisation serves.
If organisations are worried about too many people volunteering at the same time, a cloud HR and People system can create an absence type for this so they always have visibility of who is away doing volunteering and when. They can then also see how many employees are taking time out to volunteer and track it as a metric.
It could also be a great to highlight on your HR and People portal to encourage others to take up the mantle and volunteer too.
Check out “How to choose an HR system in 2021: The ultimate guide” to discover how you can pick the best HR system for managing your workforce and their volunteering days