Understanding the differences between corporate and regular volunteers is crucial to engage them. Learn about the differences in the article!
Welcome back to the 4-part series: “The Power of Corporate Volunteering for Voluntary Organisations”. In the previous article, we explored the benefits and challenges of involving corporate volunteers into your organisation. In this second part, we delve into the demographics of corporate volunteers and how they differ from regular volunteers. Understanding these distinctions will enable you to effectively engage and recruit corporate volunteers. Let's examine the insights derived from scientific research and practical experience.
The sociodemographic characteristics of corporate volunteers reveal some intriguing distinctions from regular volunteers. Studies by Do Paço, Agostinho & Nave (2013) and Roza (2016) have shed light on these differences.
Let’s start with the regular volunteers. Regular volunteers are predominantly middle-aged women, often married, with children, and employed. Moreover, they frequently possess higher levels of education. On the other hand, corporate volunteers tend to be younger, presenting a unique opportunity for voluntary organisations to attract and engage a younger demographic—one that can be challenging to reach.
Besides age, corporate volunteers are more likely to be married and less likely to have children, which might be attributed to their career-building phase. As such, they are most likely not involved with youth-oriented volunteering activities already, contrary to regular volunteers. So, make sure to distinguish between them.
Next, corporate volunteers boast higher educational qualifications on average, which makes them ideal to tackle intellectually challenging tasks, such as consultancy, project planning, and skills-based volunteering. Their proficiency and expertise can be harnessed to enrich and improve your organisation's projects or day-to-day operations.
Interestingly, the differences between corporate and regular volunteers resemble an amplified version of the distinctions between regular volunteers and non-volunteers. Recognising these variations can open doors to harder-to-reach groups, such as highly-skilled and younger volunteers. Embracing these distinctions will be crucial for voluntary organisations considering the implementation of a corporate volunteering programme.
Apart from sociodemographic aspects, the specific settings in which corporate volunteers operate differ from regular volunteers. Corporate volunteers usually engage in volunteer activities as part of their company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Consequently, their involvement is often linked to a particular domain that aligns with the CSR strategy of their employer.
In contrast, regular volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and are driven by personal motivations and interests when selecting volunteering opportunities. Corporate volunteers often participate in organised volunteering events or programs facilitated and supported by their employer, which are usually scheduled during work hours or as team-building exercises. This one-off nature of activities for corporate volunteers contrasts with the more flexible approach of regular volunteers, who can choose when and where to volunteer based on personal availability and preferences.
Furthermore, the scale and scope of involvement vary substantially. Corporate volunteers work within specific domains daily, leveraging their company's resources and networks to benefit the nonprofit organisations they support. Their expertise is often honed in projects or on a one-off basis, while regular volunteers typically engage in a broader range of activities and are available for longer, ongoing commitments.
Understanding the motivations of corporate volunteers is pivotal to engaging them effectively. Regular volunteers are often intrinsically motivated, finding fulfillment and alignment with their values in doing good for others. On the other hand, corporate volunteers may exhibit a somewhat lesser degree of intrinsic motivation, as their volunteering opportunities are often curated and supported by their employers.
Recent studies by Howard & Serviss (2021) and Seara, Proença & Ferreira (2023) indicate that corporate volunteers often have an additional extrinsic motivation provided by the company. Participation in corporate volunteering opportunities might reward them within the workplace or enhance their reputation within the company, fostering a positive outlook. Additionally, internal competitions within companies to excel in corporate volunteering can serve as an extrinsic trigger that motivates employees to participate.
This extrinsic trigger can be a strong incentive to get involved with volunteering for corporate volunteering, far more than for regular volunteers. Approximately 11% of volunteers stated that they actually needed the trigger of a corporate programme to start volunteering. This indicates that companies can be the defining factor in stimulating people to engage in volunteering (Roza (2016).
To conclude, corporate volunteers offer unique characteristics and motivations compared to regular volunteers. Understanding and acknowledging these distinctions will enable voluntary organisations to approach and engage corporate volunteers more effectively. The next chapter in this series will delve into the strategies for appealing to and harnessing the potential of corporate volunteers. Stay tuned for more insights on optimising the power of corporate volunteering for your organisation.
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