A great way to increase engagement with your organisational purpose and to demonstrate your social responsibility is by putting in place a formal volunteer program. Your employees can take time out from their day to day activities at work to give back to the community or environment in which your organisation operates. This can not only be a rewarding experience promoting wellness and connection at an individual level, but also provide a great opportunity for storytelling to your stakeholders.
Below is a summary of how to put together a volunteer program for your small business:
1. Objectives of a Volunteer Program
Connecting your program with your organisational purpose is the optimal way to ensure relevance. If this is a little tricky, putting some effort into finding causes and community activities that align with your CSR strategy or business activities really makes a difference. You could consider aligning yourself with one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
If you don’t have a strategy in place for a purposeful partnership with a relevant cause that brings value to your organisation please get in touch and we can help you.
- Will volunteer activities be based on employee expertise and skills or focus on more operational work (such as volunteering at food programs, environmental clean-ups, hospital visits).
- Is your project a one-off effort or will it offer on-going support over a period of time. If so, think about how you will organise your team accordingly to ensure that the goals of the volunteer program are met.
- How much time are you allocating for each employee each month or year. Articulate this in job contracts and advertisements and stand by your promise!
- What will be your impact? How will you measure the benefit on the community or environment so you can report back to stakeholders? This is such an important factor that is often not considered within volunteer programs. For example, how many trees did your team plant, how many hungry people did they feed, how much money did they save a charity on professional services which could now be spent on addressing the core purpose of the organisation and so on.
2. Administration of program
The host organisation that your employees work for must provide the following information for compliance:
It is vital to ensure that the expectations of your volunteer host organisation and your volunteers are met. The best way to provide structure to a program is to ensure your host organisation provides role descriptions that outline the responsibilities, skills and the estimated hours needed to fulfill the project.
Work health and safety compliance:
In order to ensure the safety and rights of your employees there must be policies and procedures in place. Any volunteer program must comply with Work Health and Safety Legislation. This needs to be accessible to all participants. This includes ensuring that sufficient supervision is provided during the program as required.
3. Maximising engagement
- Before starting make sure your team are all on board with the program objectives, enthusiastic and happy to positively contribute to the project.
- Hold a briefing session before the start of the program, share stories from the host organisation that demonstrates the impact your volunteers will be having by giving up their precious time.
- Never tell your employees to ‘make up time’ or expect that they should work extra hours to cover the time spent on the program.
- Ask program participants to take photos and videos of their experiences to post on social media and include in other communication. Always check with the host organisation beforehand!
4. Program storytelling
Ask your team members to write a blog post, contribute to social media posts or run an internal lunchtime show and tell about their experience. Share your content with the host organisation for cross promotion and if you have an amazing story to tell consider a purpose-driven PR strategy. If you’d like to discuss how to create a purpose-driven volunteer program that generates impact stories please get in touch!