By encouraging employees to participate in community activities through company sponsored volunteer programs, a business contributes to building better communities. Corporate volunteering allows people to contribute skills and knowledge to a not-for-profit organisation and actively participate in the community. It makes people feel good.
Corporate volunteering can be a low-cost, short-term, low-risk, high-impact way of making the knowledge, skills and experiences of the business sector accessible to the not-for-profit sector while building understanding, employee skill and community goodwill. Corporate volunteering provides an opportunity for potential partners to experiment with a relationship by getting to know each other before embarking on something more complex. Corporate volunteering programs can be structured and formal or ad-hoc and informal.
A corporate volunteering program can start in numerous ways:
- an employee volunteers with a not-for-profit organisation and subsequently asks for support from their employer
- the employer makes information about volunteering opportunities available to employees for ‘self selection' not-for-profit organisation identifies volunteering opportunities and approaches a business with a formal proposal
- the business establishes an employee volunteering program that it promotes to the not-for-profit sector
- a business decides to support a particular organisation and invites employees to also contribute their time and skills
- a business offers pro-bono (free of charge) services to one or more not-for-profit organisations
Most benefit will be gained for partners and participants if the program is planned, supported and given formal recognition. Many employees are already faced with stressful competition between work and routine family life. Many have been downsized, transferred, demoted, retrenched or casualised, or given more work for less job security.., and will probably only respond to a corporate volunteering program which is structured, supported and valued by both partners.
Once a community organisation has decided to investigate a corporate volunteering program, and has identified the areas where help is needed, a basic proposal should be outlined. Potential partners should be identified and approached. Then an agreement may be developed and documented. This follows the steps outlined to build a successful partnership.