Friday, October 26, 2007

Employee Volunteer Programs are Great for Business & Community

Volunteerism is a great way for any size company to give back. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or a large corporation, an employee volunteer program is a must for several reasons. The most important reason is it gives employees a stake in the company's giving and it can even improve employee morale.

An employee volunteer program doesn't have to be complex and time consuming. But, it should be leveraged against other assets for giving, which determines how you build this program. The employee volunteer program needs to also have the systems in place for it to be successful and effective. If you are thinking about establishing a company-wide employee volunteer program or if you are a solo entrepreneur and want to include time as a way to give back, here are 5 easy steps to create and employee volunteer program.

1. Align volunteer activities with the company giving mission. Volunteering should not be done on the fly or without consideration. Creating a branded giving program that sends out your message about what you care about is important. Take the time to select volunteer activities that closely align with your giving mission statement. Choosing activities that align with your giving mission generate the greatest benefits for the company, employees and the community.

2. Develop a volunteer program structure and policies. Written and communicated policies around volunteering keep the program focused and easy to manage. It lays the groundwork for what the company will do and how it will do it and when recognizing employees for the volunteer time, it keeps the process fair.

3. Leverage volunteer activities against other assets the company has to give. You need to know how much time you can afford to give back. Time is weighed against in-kind donations, cash contributions (including matching gift programs) and loaned expertise.

4. Communicate your volunteer efforts. Communicating your giving program generates enthusiasm within the company and good will within the community. The results and efforts of your volunteerism are linked to public relation and marketing efforts both internally and externally.

5. Reward engaged employees. Nothing speaks louder to employees than appreciation for what they do. Establishing a recognition program inspires others and is a great way to say 'thank you' for their contribution to the overall company giving program.

6. Measure and evaluate. You don't know how successful your volunteer program is unless you take the time to evaluate it. Yes, volunteering is all good, but you this is the only way true success can be determined. Some of the areas to measure are employee satisfaction with the program and is it meeting your overall mission.

Copyright. 2007. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D.