The benefits of volunteering as a company and engaging employees in their local community
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not an emerging trend. It’s a critical aspect of successful businesses that includes engaging employees through service projects, giving-back programs and volunteer leadership in their local community.
“It’s a great team-building opportunity for employees, allows the company to make a significant impact in as little as one half-day service project, and it’s a great way to get volunteers out in their community to better understand its needs,” states Karen Horowitz, NVFS director of community and volunteer engagement.
The benefits of such engagement can be seen throughout business operations and recruitment:
- Executives who employ corporate citizenship to meet key business goals are nearly twice as likely to report that they are successful in enhancing reputation and 1.7 times more likely to reduce employee turnover. (Source: Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship)
- By 2025, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the global workforce — and 62 percent are willing to take a pay cut to work for a responsible company. (Sources: Millennial Branding, Cone Communications)
- 90 percent of consumers think it’s important for companies to operate in a way that protects and benefits society and the environment, and 77 percent will share their positive opinions about companies doing good. (Source: Cone Communications)
“Thank you so much for all of your work and support yesterday! Not only did you coordinate a great day for our partners but your hands-on engagement helped everything run seamlessly. The group returned for their meeting in great spirits — sharing stories of their classroom time.”
— recent quote from Booz Allen Hamilton regarding its CSR event at our Head Start Center
More important than the business case, however, is the impact it has on the employees themselves. In addition to being a great morale booster, it gives employees a chance to step outside of the office to collaborate as a team.
“Volunteering is a great stress reliever. It is so great to see the smiles and ease that volunteers have while on site,” shares Navara Cannon, NVFS community and volunteer engagement specialist for the Greater Prince William area. “They are focused on helping others and not on deadlines, etc.”
Partnering with a nonprofit such as NVFS provides a great starting point for employees to learn about the issues affecting their local community and also what opportunities are available for them to get more involved.
“There have been volunteers who come during a corporate volunteer event and form their own small group to prepare and serve a meal at the SERVE shelter,” notes Julie Martinez, NVFS community and volunteer engagement specialist for the SERVE Family Shelter.
Opportunities can be one activity that focuses on one particular issue area, or companies can mix it up between a few events supporting different issue areas, depending on what makes the most sense for their organization and employees.
“We strive to create meaningful experiences that capture the talents of our volunteers to benefit clients. Whether it be at our thrift shop, or a skills-based activity with our Training Futures program, we are grateful for the many ways that corporate groups engage with us,” shares Annie Arroyo, NVFS community and volunteer engagement specialist for NVFS headquarters and our Early Childhood Education programs. “If your group feels inspired by a particular program, you can plan a host of projects on and off-site that benefit that cause.”
For example, she notes, if your team loves working with kids, you can:
- Plan a classroom activity at our Head Start Center
- Compile after-school snack bags for students
- Host an in-office drive to support local kids, including school supplies for our Back-to-School drive or new toys for our Gifting for Families initiative
- Create activity kits for parents to utilize through our Healthy Families program
- Adopt a class (or a few!) to serve as a Science Fair Mentor for the annual Head Start Science Fair
“Rallying around one cause helps build enthusiasm and momentum!” she adds.
Having a CSR contact in your office is helpful in planning a successful corporate event, but even a designated volunteer coordinator to work with a nonprofit’s volunteer engagement team can help to identify your company’s goals, and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the event. The key is to make sure the event will resonate with employees and make them feel like they’re really making an impact.
“The most frequent feedback is that employees have fun, even when the volunteer project is challenging!” Martinez observes.
“We often find volunteer don’t know the severity of need in our area,” Cannon adds. “They thank us for having them be a part of what we are doing to help out the community.”
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