How to create a volunteer program that attracts cause-minded employees

how to create a volunteer program

More and more employees say making a difference at their jobs is one of the most important factors they consider when selecting a company to work for.

A study by The Case Foundation found that 63 percent of female millennials were attracted to a company based on its corporate social responsibility programming.

To attract top talent and keep employees satisfied, corporate executives have begun integrating a volunteer culture into the workplace by including volunteer campaigns in their business models. Some companies have created positions dedicated to volunteer initiatives and pro bono work.

According to the pro-bono advocate group, in the last two years, more than 6,400 full-time employees from 500-plus American companies are delivering $2 billion worth of pro bono and skills-based service to help nonprofits meet business demands.

Chicago-based WomenOnCall , an online network that connects professional women with relevant skills-based volunteer opportunities and meaningful causes, encourages businesses to take volunteering to the next level and integrate skills-based initiatives into company culture.

Skills-based volunteers use their talents, experiences, and resources to strengthen nonprofit organizations from the inside out. They support a nonprofit’s overall operations so the nonprofit can deliver services with greater impact.

“Sharing one’s expertise and professional insights are effective ways to hone skills and develop new ones. Skills-based volunteering has significant advantages for the individual and the nonprofit while helping a company better embrace its triple bottom line,” says Andrea Ziel, executive director of WomenOnCall.

Find the right projects

Finding the right nonprofit to connect with to offer skills-based volunteer opportunities can be daunting for companies that don’t have existing community relationships. Instead of searching for the right nonprofit, companies should encourage employees to join a volunteer network that allows them to sign up for the right volunteer project that leverages their skills and interests.

“Skilled volunteering is a win-win situation for a company. It provides the nonprofit with support beyond a board of directors or advisory board while cultivating and developing a company’s leaders from within. The company is not only strengthening its presence in the community, but expanding its network,” Ziel says.

How a volunteer database works

Joining a volunteer database is simple and takes just minutes. Volunteers complete an online profile by syncing their LinkedIn account or by inputting basic information such as work history, education and areas of interest.

A volunteer database houses dozens of opportunities for potential volunteers to search. When a volunteer expresses interest in a project invitation, the nonprofit will contact the volunteer by email to further discuss the project. If the project meets the needs of the volunteer and nonprofit, it’s time to begin working together.

Creating volunteer satisfaction

Skills-based volunteers work on a variety of projects from grant writing to proofing, and from legal review to budget assistance. These volunteers donate their time to a variety of areas of need in the community such as education, poverty, health and wellness, children, senior citizens, and animal welfare.

A 2013 study by True Impact shows that volunteers are more likely to report high satisfaction from skills-based volunteering than their hands-on volunteering peers,” Ziel adds.

Survey results from WomenOnCall show that volunteers who have completed skills-based projects report that 95 percent of volunteers used their skills, 70 percent honed their skills and nearly 80 percent were able to see the impact of their work.

Skills-based volunteering creates opportunities for professionals to volunteer in a more meaningful way by effectively and efficiently aligning their skills, expertise and interests with volunteer opportunities, and provides an effective avenue for companies to engage their employees, forge community relationships, help a nonprofit organization, and give back to the community.


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