Volunteering—that’s for when you retire, right? Not anymore. Companies are getting people involved in philanthropic initiatives during employment. In fact, younger hires, often veteran volunteers who grew up organizing social media campaigns, thrive in a workplace where they can serve.
But they’re not the only ones who feel good about volunteering. A 2016 Deloitte survey indicates that employer-supported volunteer programs (EVPs) build leadership skills, boost public image, and make participants proud to be part of a socially conscious entity.
But, what if your company isn’t quite there? You might just need to find the right program. There are tons of innovative ways to get your volunteer on at work. By introducing a simple option that’s a natural fit, you can start your company on the path to service. Here’s how:
Tip 1 Start With What You’ve Got
It’s easy to plan a fall coat drive. Find a local charity that accepts donations, or try a drive sponsored by Burlington. Before the first snowflakes fall, send a flyer to coworkers.
No big chill in your neck of the woods? Lucky you! You can focus on fashion during prom season, by collecting formal wear for a youth group, or year round by donating to a group that collects clothes suitable for interviews . Many coworkers will be grateful for a chance to go through their closets, so it’s a painless way to get people involved.
Tip 2 Match Skill to Need
Once you’ve warmed everyone up, they’ll be ready to do some good outside. Download the Deed app, search local charities, and start matching skills with altruistic causes. Help unstick your writers’ writer’s block by connecting them with a community outreach workshop. Friends in HR itching to lend a hand? They can offer resume help to returning soldiers through a local veterans' group.
The know-how that makes them great employees ensures they’ll be effective volunteers. The same skills that drive the workforce really make a difference to a charity, and employees can grow these skills while giving back.
Tip 3 Whip Into Action
Sometimes a need presents itself, and requires little more than some heart, a few bucks, or a pint of blood. Most employees wouldn’t blink an eye after a hurricane or tragic shooting, so it’s a great time to order a blood donation bus.
Quickly mobilize your department while feelings are running high by organizing a good old fashioned Red Cross blood drive. You provide the space, volunteers, and donors, and they’ll plan, bring supplies, and keep protocol.
Once you get your colleagues’ blood flowing, so to speak, they’ll want to stay on the path to service. Some offices are even helping employees keep (and achieve) a volunteer hours goal. If yours isn’t, propose the initiative to HR.
Tip 4 Align With Your Mission
Be sure to consider your company’s purpose and core values. When you (and everyone else involved) take the time to understand your company’s overall mission and goals, it’s easier to align your social responsibility program.
In the field of healthcare, giving blood can further important goals like providing compassionate care and promoting public health. If you work for an outdoor gear company, your mission statement might reflect concern for the environment. So, management may be more inclined to implement a beach cleanup, or a give the go-ahead to sponsor a forest restoration.
Review your company’s purpose and values, and dream big. How can a volunteer program reflect your mission? Remember, you’re looking for a good match, and you want volunteers, beneficiaries, and the public to feel the importance of this aspect of your business. People want to buy from—and work for— a socially responsible company that’s community oriented.
Tip 5 Make Giving Fun
Tellingly, one of the big indicators of a great place to work is whether employees feel good about the ways their company is contributing to the community. By aligning with your mission and providing fun volunteer opportunities, you can make your coworkers feel downright enthusiastic about giving—and coming to work.
Donate $5 to wear jeans on Friday? Fun. Give $50 to a worthy cause, and show up in a toga? Priceless!
Plan a week of fun service opportunities like dress-up days, a charity concert or carnival, and shopping with company money to support the underprivileged in your area.
Tip 6 Pitch the Benefits
If your workplace isn’t ready for all-out large-scale giving, even a daylong event is a positive for workers, the community, and the company. According to Points of Light, the benefits of corporate philanthropy are employee pride and satisfaction, increased productivity, easier recruitment and retention, and improved community relations—always great for your company’s image.
Remember—start small and work your way up to that penguin conservation. Your company’s EVP will evolve over time as service becomes a way of life.
Photo of volunteers cleaning courtesy of Photo_Concepts/Getty Images.
Jennifer Magliano spends most of her days helping younger writers to find their voices and experiment with new genres. She has explored a few as well, and may just pioneer a new one: travel food nature writing with amateur sunset photos. Jennifer has written for a travel site, authored a blog, created and performed wedding ceremonies, and published poetry. Recently, her work appeared in *Grabbing the Apple, An Anthology of New York Woman Poets*.More from this Author
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