Company Volunteering 101

April 12, 2016

There isn’t anything like giving back to your community - showing appreciation for all it’s done for you, showcasing humble respect, helping someone who may be in need. Whether you choose to volunteer in your free time or sign up for a great opportunity with some coworkers, giving back should be a staple within every company’s culture and values. It should be second nature to all along the hierarchy of an organization – everyone from an intern to the President and all that are in-between.

Any kind of volunteer work your company may engage in is awesome. Choosing volunteer events that will maximize the benefits withdrawn and have a direct influence on those participating is even better. Catching the volunteer work “bug” is easy – and with a little research, thought, and input from your team, it can, and will be, fun, rewarding, and something you’ll never want to go without doing again.


1. Identify your industry and market

Are you in retail? The food service industry? Commercial real estate? No matter what industry you’re a part of, there is something for them all. Do a quick Google search for some volunteer opportunities in your area and I’m confident you’ll find a local Good Will, soup kitchen, or Habitat for Humanity work site to donate your time. Sure, you can hit up a food bank with your company for a day if you work for an engineering company, but often, volunteering can feel more rewarding if you’re participating in something that is directly correlated with what you’re dealing with on a day-in-day-out basis. Maybe a senior services center would enjoy volunteering for the nationwide Meals on Wheels program while an environmentally-green company would take more out of spending a day cleaning up a local park.


2. Make a plan and stick to it

Volunteer days should be scheduled like any other important marketing meeting or sales pitch to a new client. Print out your calendar for the next year, more or less, and choose some dates you’d like to be blocked off and designated to community work. Make sure you ask yourself some important questions when developing said plan – how often do I want to encourage volunteer work within my company? Once a month? Once a quarter? How am I going to encourage my fellow coworkers to participate? What if they’re too busy that day? Luckily, 9 out of 10 times you can avoid these road bumps. Schedule your volunteer events far enough in advance from the actual event day so you’re giving employees adequate advance notice to allow them to prepare for a day, or a few hours, out of the office. Communicate to employees the importance of volunteer work and why they shouldn’t want to sit out on the sidelines. Make a plan, cover your bases, and do your best to have answers to all potential conflicts that may come up. Sharpie these give-back days into people’s calendars – don’t pencil it in.


3. Go out and enjoy!

It is truly an unparalleled feeling to see the smile on someone’s face after you’ve just helped them out in a way they (more than likely) couldn’t help themselves. Maybe you’re on the forefront volunteering face-to-face with the people who need your help or maybe you’re behind the scenes. Either way, there is joy that can be extracted from each experience. While what you’re doing may not necessarily be the most exciting, make it a goal or better yet, a priority, to find the silver lining. Don’t let it slip your mind and remind yourself why you’re there. You’re there for a reason; you’re helping out for a reason. There wouldn’t have been the opportunity for you or anyone else to volunteer if it wasn’t needed – if you weren’t needed.


Test the waters – try a plethora of different volunteer activities and gather feedback from the employees who participated. Check to see what they liked best and what felt the most rewarding. Collect that data and use it to your advantage. Make volunteer work a value your company can firmly stand by and have ingrained into their culture for the duration of the company’s existence. Make giving back something employees look forward to. Besides – a day out of the office never hurt anyone, especially when it’s for a good cause. It can, and will, also contribute to employee retention, happiness, and overall well-being. Who doesn’t love a happy camper? 🙂


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