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Managing Your Employee Volunteer Programs: 9 Steps to Success

Source: Triple Pundit

This is the first in a six part series on building better employee volunteer programs, presented by MicroEdge, the leading provider of software and services to the giving community worldwide. Follow the rest of the series here.

What are the benefits of engaging employees in CSR efforts?

Corporations hold the keys and the resources to solving many of our most pressing problems. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, including community involvement, charitable giving,volunteering and sustainability initiatives are all ways in which corporations have begun to address societal issues. Such programs have seen tremendous growth in recent years. Getting your employees involved is a key part of maintaining that growth and increasing the impact of your program, and a robust volunteer program is a great place to start.

Successful volunteer programs comprise many elements – a strong tie-in to established corporate values, management commitment, and adequate resources, to name a few. Even the best programs, however, can be undermined by common problems: too much administrative overhead, lack of employee engagement, and difficulty demonstrating return on investment.

Saving time and money with efficient program management

As any event or volunteer program manager can tell you, administrative tasks consume the bulk of employee engagement planning activities. The list is endless: creating promotional materials, designing and building web pages, managing rosters with spreadsheets, tracking t-shirt sizes, adding friends and family members to the list – to name a few.

While many planners do an excellent job at juggling all of these activities, there comes a point when you either have too many employees to effectively manage events using email and spreadsheets, or you want to expand the size and scope of your program (for example, to launch a global day of service across all of your locations), or both.

If you are evaluating how to launch an employee involvement initiative or increase the effectiveness of your current program, it’s important to understand the key role that technology plays in your success. It can significantly streamline the administrative overhead of creating events, managing employees, tracking outputs and outcomes; and enable you to efficiently report on your program results –whether  to management, your employees or the communities you serve – so you can spend your time creating strategic value for your programs.


1) Promote and publicize your events

It seems obvious, but in order to get the greatest involvement from your employees, you need to keep volunteer opportunities top of mind.  Make it easy for them to participate by effectively publicizing opportunities for them to do some good.

2) Provide ample opportunities for staff feedback 

Survey your employees for greater insight into staff motivations so you can tailor your program to further increase involvement.  Surveys are also a great way to collect stories from your events, and bring a personal touch to your internal communications and post-event press releases.

3) Target and promote events to increase turnout

Promoting your events to targeted groups within your company is the most effective way to increase turnout. Target and promote events based on causes your employees care the most about, skill sets your team possesses, geographic areas and more. Send targeted promotional emails to the employees who should be most closely associated with the event.

4) Engage employees with your community initiatives

Leading management teams the world over agree that their number one asset is their people. But what is the key to recruiting and retaining this most valuable resource? Employee engagement.

Human resources research consistently shows that employees are the happiest and most likely to stay at companies that:

  • Are innovative
  • Align with their personal values
  • Offer opportunities for growth and development
  • Foster an environment where employees feel they are making an impact
  • Cultivate and encourage great teams

While many components of your corporate culture must work together to foster these different criteria, employee volunteer programs are one of the most cost-effective ways to engage your workforce in all of these aspects.

Building a strong program helps you recruit and retain top talent and provide opportunities for skills-based learning, team-building, networking, and fun.

The next five steps are the keys to engagement:

5) Know what employees are interested in and able to do

Instead of gathering only basic information about your employees (such as location), make sure you dive a little deeper so that it’s easier to help match them with the events that fit them best.

6) Make it easy to find events

Be sure to reach out to your employees directly.  Furthermore, make your events easy to find.

7)  Make it easy to sign up for events 

Signing up for events should be as easy as clicking a button.

8) Customize your program for your employees

The more information you provide to employees, the more likely they will be to sign up for events.  Some important pieces of information and tools to provide include:

  • Information about company initiatives
  • Information about non-profit partners
  • Tools that support your company’s CSR initiatives (e.g. a tool to help you calculate and offset your carbon footprint)
  • Posts and links to event pictures
  • Volunteer time off policy information
  • Links to online giving platforms

9) Reward participation!

Volunteering is a commitment of time and skills, and it is a testament to your employees’ passion for making the world a better place.  Reward them for that participation – it will inspire your employees to participate even more!

The payoff: Enhancing your brand reputation and demonstrating ROI

Volunteer engagements enable your employees to go out in the community, represent your brand, build relationships, and strengthen communities by sharing their skills and passions. Particularly in these difficult times, where the news is dominated by troubling stories, there is perhaps no better way to enhance your image and stand out from the pack than by sharing uplifting stories that demonstrate your company’s social responsibility.