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7 employee volunteering program ideas that increase employee retention

Employee volunteering leads to higher satisfaction at work, so it’s time to get to giving! Learn how to implement a fun and successful volunteer program at your organization.

Rachel Mills
June 22, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Want to bring your team together? Give them a cause to rally behind.

An employee volunteering program can unite your team in ways that directly impact your organization. Contributing to a cause makes employees feel a sense of purpose and shared camaraderie, which directly impacts your bottom line.

According to Gallup, only 38% of employees are engaged at work (which, sadly enough, is actually an all-time high). Over 50% of the workforce is disengaged, expressing zero feelings of attachment toward their place of employment, while roughly 14% are actively disengaged (translation: downright miserable).

Here's what employee engagement has to do with corporate volunteer programs: Incorporating volunteerism into your company culture can boost employee happiness, employee retention, job satisfaction, and team morale. In fact, according to Deloitte's 2017 Volunteerism Survey, 89% of the American workforce agrees that companies that sponsor volunteer activities have a better working environment than companies that do not.

Survey respondents agreed that volunteering is better for employee morale and well-being than a company-sponsored happy hour.

So yes, your team would rather help others than drink free IPAs.

Below, we give 7 ideas to launch an employee volunteering program at your company. By integrating volunteer experiences with your company culture, you can develop a workforce that's happier, more engaged, and increasingly excited to come to work each day.

7 ideas to launch an employee volunteering program at your company

In the past decade, the American workforce saw a rise in "innovative" office perks. Hiring managers introduced unlimited vacation time, free team lunches, happy hours and retreats, and office pool tables to attract top talent.

And yet, studies show that employee volunteer programs may be one of the best ways to attract candidates and reach your business goals. According to a 2016 Cone Communications study, 88% of millennials say their job is more fulfilling when employers provide opportunities to make a positive impact.

To incorporate volunteer opportunities into your corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, consider these ideas.

1. Rethink your holiday office party 🎅

If your marketing budget carves out a significant line item for your office holiday party, you may want to put those funds to better use. Rather than offer gifts or party favors to clients and employees, consider adopting a family in your community. Collect a holiday wish list from each family, then organize a holiday shopping spree (bonus: this is a perfect team-building activity).

To increase your capacity to adopt more families, invite clients or vendors to partake in your event. Integrate your fundraising platform with your email automation software to invite friends to give to your campaign.

2. Offer free time off ⏰

Unlimited vacay and mental health days are nice, but why not offer paid time off to make the world a better place? Instruct human resources to offer 1-3 days paid leave to encourage employee participation in volunteer work.

Encourage employees to snap candid shots while at their volunteer events and share the photos on social media. When you share your shots, be sure to include your one-click social sharing link within the caption, inviting clients, vendors, colleagues, and friends to support your cause.

3. Make it a competition 🏁

Your employees are driven — if not downright competitive. Put your co-workers' competitive edge to good use by creating a cross-department competition to support a good cause.

Make each department a team, then see which team contributes the most volunteer hours over the course of a quarter. Meanwhile, take advantage of peer-to-peer fundraising to see which team raises the most funds for their nonprofit of choice. The team that contributes the most combined hours + donations wins an employer-sponsored happy hour.

4. Sponsor your own giving day (or week!) 🎠

Many nonprofit organizations receive the bulk of their donations during the last three months of the year (particularly on Giving Tuesday). To support these causes year-round — not just in one season — launch your own Giving Day at work.

Allow employees to nominate a number of local charities, then create a full day of fundraising and volunteering opportunities to support your cause.

Sprout Social, a social media strategy company, partnered with Givebutter to put on "Philanthropy Week" at their company. In just one week, a number of employees collectively raised $19k for 10 different charities, thereby increasing the social impact of the company.

5. Create an item drive 🎒

Within your community, there are a number of people who lack the basic necessities so many of us take for granted. To leverage your privilege and boost community engagement, launch an item drive at your company.

Your item drive can consist of virtually anything — filled backpacks of school supplies to give kids in the fall, canned nonperishables or gift cards for families around the holidays, a bag of warm socks, gloves, and hats in the winter, or sanitary kits filled with toothpaste, deodorant, tissues, and other necessities.

Organize a company outing where you distribute your gifts. If you meet others who want to contribute to your cause, use the text-to-donate feature so supporters can give on the go.

6. Do an extreme makeover — office edition 💼

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the nonprofit sector hard, decreasing fundraising by as much as 50% and furloughing 70-95% of the workforce. To help these organizations get back on their feet, consider giving a local nonprofit office a makeover.

Many nonprofits are in dire need of new supplies. Restock their storage closet while giving their office a gorgeous facelift. Have your graphic design team make new artwork for the nonprofit, then purchase new furniture, light fixtures, or other supplies. If you have room left in your budget, throw a dual company luncheon to celebrate the nonprofit's revamped office space.

Such a large undertaking will require funds larger than your team can contribute. Take advantage of text message invites to encourage employees' friends and family members to support your campaign.

7. Encourage pro bono work 🎉

Many companies erroneously believe pro-bono work is just for law practices. In reality, virtually any company — marketing agencies, rideshare services, publishing houses, and restaurants — can harness their unique skill sets to support those in need.

Encourage your employees to play a central role in determining which nonprofits to support by casting a company-wide poll. Once you pick several charities, ask employees to volunteer time to various projects. Be sure to set up personalized campaign pages for each organization.

Simplify volunteer management with Givebutter & POINT

Leverage Givebutter to launch an employee volunteering program

The benefits of volunteering at work expand far beyond your moral compass. Corporate volunteering can help attract top talent, raise employee morale, and boost employee retention.

There are a number of fun ways to encourage employee volunteerism, from paid time off, Giving Days, pro bono work, or a socially responsible office party.

But to best support the causes you care about, always couple volunteer activities with a fundraising event.

Givebutter is a free platform that offers 70+ features to help your employees raise funds for the causes they care about. With fun, branded pages, limitless ways to donate, and engaging supporter feeds, it offers interactive ways to rally employees, vendors, and your board of directors alike.

Ready to launch your volunteer program and raise funds for a good cause? Sign up to create your free Givebutter account today.

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