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Corporate Volunteerism: How Enterprises Can Bring About Social Change

We live in a world where enterprises are constantly looking to positively impact society. Corporate volunteerism has emerged as an excellent way for organizations to think beyond the boardroom, meaningfully engage their employees, and participate in social change.

Enterprise owners have evolved a lot, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. They don’t just keep an eye on profits and growth. They’re proactive about enabling their team members to go out there and serve the community.

This article explores what corporate volunteerism is, what it means for forward-looking enterprises, and how organizations can give back more to society.

What Is Corporate Volunteerism?

It's the practice of enterprises empowering team members to participate in community volunteering activities. It’s how organizations make a difference by serving society. 

Corporate volunteering is a pillar of CSR or corporate social responsibility, where corporations hold themselves accountable for their impact on society and their managers, employees, clients, and customers.

While some enterprises give teammates VTO or volunteer time off to take part in volunteering activities, others incentivize volunteering through reward programs.

As you'll find out in this article, there are many ways in which corporations can use a volunteer program to bring about change.

Corporate Volunteering Models: How Do They Work?

Corporate volunteering programs are designed by organizations to help them connect with the people in a particular community or region. These programs come in different forms. Let's check out some of the most popular models:

Direct Service Volunteering

A direct service program puts its volunteers in direct contact with the people they're helping.

For instance, a direct service volunteering program might set up volunteers to teach students, visit the elderly, serve food to the homeless in a soup kitchen or mission, or provide childcare during public events.

Team Volunteering

A corporate team volunteer program involves a group of managers or employees getting together to accomplish an extensive or time-consuming project.

Such a program might involve a team collecting trash along a busy street, planning and executing a fun run or marathon, building a house for a low-income family, or taking up any direct service volunteer tasks.

Acts of Kindness 

Peer-to-peer gestures, advocacy activities, and other micro actions can sometimes also be counted as forms of employee giving. 

By helping another in a time of need, employees can deliver direct benefits to a person, group, or other subject in need. It can be up to the company whether to honor or credit these small acts that often happen outside the constructs of formal opportunities hosted by nonprofit organizations.

Skills-Based Volunteering

A skills-based program can be a direct or indirect volunteer service. Crucially, the task is meant to help corporate volunteers get trained in new skills in the process.

For example, medical corporations might enlist their interns or new hires to attend a skills-based volunteer program where volunteers help around a hospital or long-term care facility.

The volunteer work helps the community, and at the same time, the volunteers benefit by picking up new skills while donating their time. This can make the employee more valuable to the company, and also upskill the employee for greater levels of responsibility.

These three corporate volunteering models apart, there are many other types, such as on-your-own-time projects, mentorships, employee internships, formal fundraising events, and more.

types of corporate volunteerism

Types Of Corporate Volunteerism

Corporate volunteering can be broken down into three broad types: field volunteering, virtual volunteering, and skills-based employee volunteering (which we’ve already discussed). 

Field volunteering involves volunteers performing their work through in-person contact within the community, often delivered on-site and in remote areas where direct assistance has a positive effect on impact. In this type of volunteerism, the volunteer’s physical presence is required to accomplish a particular task or activity.

On the other hand, virtual volunteering involves volunteers giving their time to take up volunteering work remotely. It's carried out using videoconferencing tools or might include volunteers remotely donating their time to work on volunteer projects.

What’s in it for You (Some Key Benefits)

The principle behind corporate volunteerism is that it helps to enhance teamwork within a company's organizational structure while encouraging employees to learn new skills, meet new people, and positively impact people and issue areas in need of assistance.

Let’s look at various other ways in which your organization can benefit from corporate volunteerism: 

  • The practice improves the enterprises’ public relations and how people perceive their work.
  • It increases team morale and boosts overall efficiency.
  • It helps to stimulate company growth, meaning corporate volunteerism is good for business. 
  • It allows organizations to meet the ever-changing workplace demands, especially those from millennials and Gen Z. 
  • It builds better workplaces, which can help decrease employee turnover rates while also helping employees gain valuable skills for the future. 
  • It helps organizations better connect with the people in their local communities, helping to make the environment a better place for all. 

Golden Lessons: How Some Corporates Get it Wrong

While corporate volunteerism comes with several benefits, organizations need to be careful about how they use it to reap those benefits. There can be instances when companies get their approach wrong. Here's how it can happen:

  • Corporations sometimes make short-lived, episodic commitments to social change rather than a sustained responsibility to change.
  • Some enterprises use corporate volunteerism primarily for optics, just to look better.
  • Businesses sometimes prioritize company interests over community goals.
  • Organizations sometimes undertake volunteering projects without taking input from their team members. 

When these mistakes happen, corporate volunteer projects tend to have less impact on the communities they intend to serve. They can also result in a drop in employee, customer, and client satisfaction. The overall perception of the business within its community can also take a hit.

Here’s How You Can Start a Corporate Volunteer Program

Organizations must start by clearly outlining the project goals they wish to undertake. To do this, they must first identify problems or needs within their community. The step will let them determine the best causes for devoting their time and resources.

After that, corporate managers and decision-makers must work towards initiating strategic contacts within the community and building partnerships with other local businesses, charities, and organizations that can help them attain the goals of their volunteer project.

corporate volunteerism

Our Favorite Corporate Volunteerism Ideas (Try Them!)

In its simplest form, a corporate volunteer program is designed to help corporations give back to the local communities.

How an enterprise donates its time and employee resources can come in many forms. So what are some of the best ways for organizations to volunteer? Let’s check out four cool ideas:

  • Corporate Virtual Volunteer Programs
    Virtual volunteering, which we’ve already discussed as a broad field of volunteerism quickly becoming more and more popular, involves a company’s employees donating their time remotely. Videoconferencing tools are critical to these projects.
  • Supporting Local Partner Institutions
    One of the easiest and most effective ways to support a corporate volunteering program is to define company priorities, find local organizers whose work aligns with those priorities, and promote their existing service opportunities to a company’s employees. This has the benefit of meeting resource-constrained nonprofits where they are (rather than making them create a custom form of engagement for a company), and to fill outstanding need gaps together.
  • Boost Employee Engagement, Retention
    Decision-makers should look to leverage employee passions through a workplace culture of volunteerism and social responsibility. It helps boost employee engagement and retention by creating a more inclusive workplace.  
  • Recognize and Reward Volunteer Efforts
    Organizations that participate in corporate volunteering programs should recognize and reward their employees and the efforts that go into the projects. Kind words and sincere gratitude are great ways to do that. If you want to leave an impression on your volunteers, Golden's Karats program is what you need. With Karats, corporate volunteers can earn and collect "Karats," which can be used to enter draws for exclusive prizes, such as backstage passes, courtside tickets, and more.

Top Tip: Learn from Examples

If you’re an enterprise owner looking to ideate and develop a cool corporate volunteerism project, it’s a good idea to look at a few examples around you. One of the standard programs you get to see is employees participating as a group and serving meals to the elderly in long-term care facilities or homeless people.

In fact, there are some high-profile examples to check out, such as the distinct programs initiated from time to time by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the environmental projects that Earthshare is known for.

The Great Resignation: Corporate Volunteerism in Times of the Pandemic

For individuals and organizations worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent disruptions have changed how the workplace is perceived and approached.

Modern businesses are faced with what Forbes refers to as the "Big Quit" or the "Great Resignation," with employees quitting their traditional jobs en masse to pursue remote work opportunities.

Therefore, organizations now have to rethink how they fit into the global community, how they connect with their employees, and what they'll need to do to continue to endorse corporate social responsibility in an era of remote employment.

Fortunately, there are many ways modern enterprises can continue to serve and connect with their local communities, namely by looking at virtual volunteer solutions.

Through virtual corporate volunteerism, a concept we’ve dealt with in this article, organizations can continue to serve the communities where they are and still drive change. 

But not only that. In the fast-changing workplace landscape, volunteer programs are a great way to boost employee engagement, create lasting relationships with employees, partners, and local businesses, and eventually to make the world a better place for everyone within the local community.

Tools that Make it Work

Corporates can use different types of volunteer management tools to facilitate and improve volunteering drives.

Corporate volunteer management software is often used to recruit volunteers, coordinate project planning, schedule events, track project goals, and allow organizations to communicate easily with their volunteers and coordinators.

The software can also record and track individual volunteer hours or match volunteer skills with the right type of work.

Use the best of technology to make your company bring about social change and set an example. Try Golden today!

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How To Manage Your Next Volunteering Program

No matter what your organization has as a goal behind its corporate volunteering efforts, corporate volunteer opportunities require a lot of planning, hard work, and dedication to execute.

Fortunately, Golden can help you do more with your time, effort, and employee resources.

With Golden's corporate volunteer management software, organizations of all sorts can work more effectively with their volunteers, facilitating change and making a more significant impact on the community.

Golden's volunteer management platform can help your organization better manage corporate volunteer programs, recruit volunteers, plan and execute events, brainstorm volunteer appreciation ideas, and more.

Improve Your Enterprise’s Social Impact

In today's landscape, CSR is more important than ever before for businesses to consider their impact on managers, employees, customers, communities, and companies within those communities.

The significance of corporate volunteerism is best illustrated by a Harvard Business School report, which notes that 70% of Americans believe it's either "somewhat" or "very important" for companies to make an effort to make the world a better place.

If businesses, big or small, want to improve how the world around them perceives them, corporate volunteering can be a great way to drive change and leave a lasting impression on society.