Employee Volunteering - advice and inspiration needed

Hi all, Wendy from SilverChef here. Please could everyone share how their employee volunteering program works and what guidelines you have in place. In particular I am interested to know whether you consider employee volunteering outside of work hours? Also any ideas on how to build interest amongst staff to use their allowed days. I am surprised how many employees choose to not use their days.

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Heya!

We are working on this at the moment!

We match up to 4 days of leave, staff are allowed to volunteer outside of work hours to get this time matched. Our uptake is very low!

We have decided to add 4 “compulsory” volunteer days that don’t count towards matched leave. These volunteer days will be organised by Managers, our People Team and the two other volunteer days will be centered around already established giving days; Blood Donor Day, Giving Tuesday, National Volunteers Day etc.

We also think that service learning may encourage more people to volunteer so we are looking at way to incorporate this into volunteering experiences offered by our People Team.

The main thing is people don’t know where to look for an opportunity, they may be interested in volunteering but a little hand holding is necessary. Create relationships with possible organisations, create a database of opportunities for staff and maybe more people will be inclined to volunteer. Good luck

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Hey Wendy - so nice to meet you last week! And hello Ttobie :wave:

Do you know of Vollie? They are a certified B Corp and match volunteers with orgs!

At Quiip we had the same issue with low uptake, so we developed volunteering to match our skill set (social media strategy/implementation) and called it Pro-Bono Purpose Projects (PPP). Organisations can apply at Pro-Bono Purpose Project (PPP) - Quiip

Since we developed this there has been a real uptake and we’ve worked with a range of awesome orgs from Seaside Scavenge, and Guide Dogs Vic, to Beddown and so many more. We are now refining our focus so PPP clients are aligned to the SDGs we are working on.

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Hi Wendy

I captured some thinking from an event about this a while ago, have a look…

A lot of it still comes down to the WIFM (whats in it for me?). Voice and choice for employees (what causes do they are about), overcoming the perception its an extra thing to do, not part of what you do, and comms comms comms (you may have told people 50 times volunteering is an option, but it may need to be 51 times, and in a way that resonates with them!).

Good luck!

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I love the way you have outlined your probono page on your website! I am trying to put together a similar sort of program where we use our expertise to support orgs who can’t afford our help (e.g. they may be too small). We feel this is probably where we can have the most impact. Different topic, but do you also use the SDGs for helping decide which clients to work with?

Thanks for sharing Vollie!

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Hi Wendy,

We work with a charity partner so, similar to @alisonmichalk we do work using our skills but just for one organisation. This may change in the future but, as a very small team this works for us.

We do have out of hours volunteering, mainly because we help out at the charity partner events, some of which are at night. And to offset this we provide time off in lieu.

We have also allowed staff members to use their volunteer hours for things like volunteering at their local school as our core value is community building. So, if the school has a swimming carnival or school excursion and they need parent volunteers for time-keeping or adult supervision for example, this would count.

Outside our charity partner volunteering we also have had very low uptake on volunteer hours and I agree with @John that volunteering needs to continually communicated. Haven’t read the info yet John but assume it’s talking about meaningful volunteering that aligns with either the organisation’s or person’s skills and interests. I think this is a really important aspect of volunteering and that the fence painting volunteering should be left to the, well, painters!

Thank you all for your answers. @alisonmichalk , @Talia , @KarenPorter , @ttobie , @John

Our challenges are that we have 308 employees so even just with the 2 days each this equates to over $100K if factored at minimum wage. Many employees want to cash the days in for their school, kids footy team etc and we are challenged whether this is truly volunteering and representing SilverChef, or whether this is simply doing their parenting duties?!

We are thinking of limiting the organisations to 2 or 3 per location to ensure more value to each selected organisation and also they know they can rely on our commitment. We could then ensure a more consistent message about volunteering as we come to know the organisations more intimately.

Having a broad approach seems to bring more confusion for our workers and perhaps why we’re experiencing less uptake.

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All good, I love this stuff haha.

Oh interesting problem!

I think it depends on what impact and value you are trying to create with your employee volunteering.

If your staff are most engaged around communities they are already part of maybe your impact could include on your peoples health, wellness, work/life balance and connection to their established communities. This is what I can our “people Impact”. For us this usually revolves around dogs, beach clean ups, surfing and blood donation. These experiences enrich our peoples time working with us and gets them engaged to do the brand impact work.

You could then create a specific volunteer opportunities with various organisations that speaks to your “brand impact”, for, example if you are interested in carbon sequestration as a brand, you could have volunteer days with a relevant organisation. If your brand impact is about social cohesion, you could volunteer with refugees, people experiencing homelessness, new migrants, elderly people etc.

I hope this helps. :relaxed:

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+1 this strategic approach to partnering for corp-volunteering @ttobie!

Hey Wendy - do you know what your industry or peer benchmark is? Often this isn’t a very high number. What is driving the desire to push the number of volunteers up?

Hi John. No I don’t know any benchmarks however would love to know especially for companies our size - 300+ employees. For smaller companies I can see it being easier.
Our intent for growing volunteering is to deepen our connection with local community groups, invest more with these groups, build on worker engagement and help our workers to deepen or develop their own personal purpose.

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