How to start an employee volunteer program

A passion for volunteering is commendable. Some people are so excited at the prospect of giving back that they may want to recruit more people to help. They may find that their workplace is a great place to advance volunteer recruitment efforts.

Companies are diverse but also attract like-minded people, which can make recruiting potential volunteers easier. Business owners or HR leaders looking to strengthen employee relationships and give back to their communities may consider starting volunteer programs at work.

Here are some tips to start this journey.

Include leadership: It is important to get the support and approval of business leaders before starting a volunteer group. Since you may use company resources and violate some company times, make sure supervisors support you. They may also be able to let organizers know if a particular cause complements or goes against the company’s mission.

For example, a company that manufactures plastic products cannot work with volunteer groups that have negative things to say about plastic products.

Select a purpose to support: While national nonprofits are worth supporting, employees may be more excited to work with local initiatives. Human resources departments or the employees who start volunteer programs at work can ask employees why.

For example, a company that makes outdoor recreation clothing and gear might want to support local conservation efforts in nearby parks. If a company has a strong stance on education, direct volunteerism toward providing materials to students or improving technology resources in schools.

Start recruiting volunteers: During your recruitment efforts, reach out to staff and explain the mission of the program. This can be a task that HR can help with. If the company has a department that organizes employee retention activities, then that group would also be a valuable resource.

It’s also important to think about where volunteers might fit in. Assigning jobs and determining how many volunteers and man-hours it takes to complete tasks can give a better sense of the scale of the organization.

Determine when volunteering will take place: It’s best to have ground rules about how much of the employer-supported volunteering will take place outside of working hours. Some companies may be willing to take a certain amount of time away from the workday — for example, setting up early layoff days for volunteers. Employees can make their attendance conditional on how it affects their schedules.

Setting up a volunteer program at work can be a great way to get involved and build strong relationships within the community.

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