The Power of Corporate Volunteering for Voluntary Organisations. Part 3: Attracting and Engaging Corporate Volunteers

You know the benefits, challenges and differences with regular volunteers. It's time to learn how to attract and engage corporate volunteers!

The Power of Corporate Volunteering for Voluntary Organisations. Part 3: Attracting and Engaging Corporate Volunteers

Okay, we have established why corporate volunteers are important and how they differ from regular volunteers. Now, you want to attract and engage them. What are the most important things to consider? Let’s consider the following:

  1. Prepare your organisation for corporate volunteers. 
  2. Offer the right types of opportunities.
  3. Know where to find corporate volunteers.

Prepare your organisation for corporate volunteers

You should really ask yourself the question whether your organisation is ready for corporate volunteers. We know that they often have a specialised skill set, and they often want to volunteer as a group, and for fun. Furthermore, since volunteering occurs during working hours, companies often want to see a return on investment. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare your organisation to facilitate corporate volunteers. Think about the following factors.

  1. Be able to communicate the value of your organisation for companies. Clearly define your organisation’s mission, objectives, and the specific projects or tasks that require volunteer support. Having a clear focus will help you communicate your needs effectively to potential corporate partners. This is important because corporate volunteering often happens during working hours. You are, therefore, effectively using resources from the company to benefit your organisation. This means they often need to make a case to their managers to volunteer at your organisation. There are several ways to communicate your value:
           a. What SDGs (volunteering at) your organisation contributes to. The SDGs are ideal for intersectional communication as they provide a universal language for impact. See for example how Deedmob communicates its SDG impact!
           b. What direct impact the corporate volunteers make. Companies love it when you can communicate the impact the volunteers make. For example, share how much time has been saved, how much money has been saved or raised, or which social impact the volunteers make. 
  2. Plan and prepare the tasks properly. In line with what is said above, make sure that the tasks are realistic and that they are attainable to be done within a short, and flexible timeframe. Furthermore, provide proper guidance to the volunteers and make sure that they understand their responsibilities and roles. Make sure it aligns with your organisation’s goals and offers meaningful opportunities for engagement. This way, they can get started right away. These preparations also include what resources you need within your own organisation and from the companies who come to volunteer. We discuss this in more detail in factor 5: Dare to Ask.
  3. Make sure you can manage the logistics and coordination. This is one of the biggest challenges for voluntary organisations. If you are facilitating a group, make sure that you have everything in place for them to get going right away. Know your inventory, know how many volunteers you can handle, and prepare all stakeholders involved. For example, if a group of volunteers wants to volunteer at a care home to go on a day trip with elderly, make sure you have enough wheelchairs, and prepare the elderly, as well as the coordinators beforehand.
  4. Have a recognition or appreciation method in place. We’ve preached this time after time. Appreciation and recognition is the most important element to keep volunteers engaged. This has been backed up by the latest Time Well Spent Analysis of the NCVO. Everybody loves some recognition. Show appreciation for corporate volunteers' contributions through thank-you notes, goodies , recognition events, or highlights on social media. Recognising their efforts can encourage them to stay engaged and potentially attract more volunteers from the same company. Bonus: if you highlight the corporate volunteers on your socials and tag them, you’re very likely to get shares, likes and subscribes. This also gives extra visibility to your organisation!
    a. A lovely example is a coffee mug we received when we volunteered at The Coffee House in Amsterdam (see below!). Still using it everyday!
  5. Dare to Ask. As mentioned in the planning and preparation factor, we know that organising events for larger groups often requires resources from your organisation as well. Volunteering is not free. Estimate how many resources you need to make activities happen and dare to ask the company volunteers for a reimbursement. Also, do not hesitate to ask for donations of goods or financial resources. As mentioned in the previous chapter, employees often volunteer as part of a CSR programme. There are likely to be funds within that programme that cover these costs. However, if you are asking for reimbursements or donations, make sure you can deliver on your promise!
    a. Important: if you need anything from the company, communicate this upfront. If the company cannot account for the costs or requirements involved, you might waste each other's time.

Offer the right type of opportunities

You now have prepared your organisation to invite corporate volunteers. Now, we need to know what types of opportunities to offer. Let’s think back again about the differences between corporate volunteers and regular volunteers. We know that they have great and specialised expertise, a higher education, they are younger, prefer to volunteer as a one-off, and often look for team building activities. Having that in mind, you have to really think out of the box. Think about all the possibilities corporate volunteers can offer:

  • Specialised expertise
  • A large group to get things done (even paid for!)
  • Potential long-term involvement or partnerships

In short, there are many opportunities that suit corporate volunteers. We listed some of the best!

  1. One-off events. The one-off event is actually a characteristic of all types of volunteering.  Organise single-day or short-term events that allow corporate volunteers to participate without a long-term commitment. We know that corporate volunteers prefer short-term projects due to their work commitments. So prepared to offer a range of volunteering options that cater to different schedules and preferences.
  2. Group activities. This is by far the most requested opportunity by companies. Companies often want to facilitate group volunteering activities as a team building activity, while doing good simultaneously. Provide those team-building opportunities to allow corporate groups to work together on projects that benefit your organisation. This fosters team bonding while making a positive impact on your cause. Some examples:
           a. Cooking together for your target audience
           b. Working in nature
           c. Visiting the zoo or a museum with your target audience
           d. Local clean-up
  3. Skills-based volunteering. Corporate volunteers often have specialised skills and expertise that they love to use and/or share with your long-term volunteers. Identify specific skills needed by your organisation and offer opportunities for volunteers to contribute their expertise. For example, professionals in marketing, finance, or IT could help with strategic planning, social media campaigns, or website development. Alternatively, think about a consultancy track, in which consultants extract the most out of your organisation. Bonus tip: ask consults to provide a report for where you can improve, and how to best facilitate corporate volunteering. Win-win, right? ;)
           a. Ideally, you combine the skills-based volunteering and group activities: a team that takes on a project, such as fundraising or marketing campaigns
  4. Mentorship programs. This is a part of skills-based volunteering, but instead of helping you directly, they help your target audience. Create mentorship initiatives where corporate volunteers can provide guidance and support to individuals or groups in need, such as mentoring students, aspiring entrepreneurs, or underprivileged youths. This way, your target audience gets the most out of your partnership.
  5. Customised opportunities. Be open to tailoring volunteering opportunities to the interests and skills of the corporate volunteers. Conduct surveys or discussions to understand their preferences and find suitable matches within your organisation. This opens the space for dedicated Employee Engagement Days, Virtual Activities, or even Board or Committee Memberships. Just be open to what they are looking for! This can create the potential for a fruitful, long term relationship.

Know where to find corporate volunteers

Time for a short recap! We now know how to prepare your organisation for corporate volunteers, and we know what type of opportunities to offer. Now, we want to actually get in touch with volunteers. We listed some of our recommendations to get you started.

  1. Get into contact with your local volunteer centre. Your local volunteer centre will often be in contact with a lot of companies who want to volunteer, as companies often also don’t know where to start. So, get in touch with local volunteer centres and make sure they know what you can offer or what you are looking for. Chances are, the next time a company is looking for volunteers, you will be top of mind for volunteer centres. Often, volunteer centres also facilitate a local platform. Post your volunteer opportunities on these platforms to reach a broader audience. A great local example is Amsterdam's corporate volunteering platform, Business Involved, hosted by the local volunteer centre, municipality and Deedmob. Feel free to take a look!
  2. Attend networking events. Attend local business networking events, industry conferences, or seminars where you can connect with corporate representatives. Share information about your organisation and its volunteering opportunities during these events. Try to participate in conferences, workshops, or webinars related to corporate social responsibility. This will give you a chance to network with professionals and understand the latest trends in corporate volunteering. Sometimes, these events are organised by the volunteer centre. So, definitely try to keep in touch with them!
  3. Post your opportunity on Deedmob. Okay, a little bit of self-promotion, but this is not without reason. RW Institute has named the Deedmob platform Best-in-Class for Corporate Volunteering. Numerous companies are using the Deedmob platform to find suitable volunteering activities and best of all… It’s free to use! To create a corporate volunteering opportunity, you simply have to check the box “Suitable for company volunteers”, and we will make sure your activity is distributed to relevant organisations. Not too bas, right?
  4. Get into contact with your local business organisation. Reach out to local or regional CSR associations and business organisations. Attend their meetings or events to present your organisation’s work and discuss potential collaboration opportunities. They can promote your opportunities directly to their members.
  5. Contact companies directly. This is by far the most direct way to foster a corporate partnership, but most likely the most successful one. Make the first step. Approach a local company directly and ask for help. Dare to ask, remember? Reach out to their CSR departments or community engagement teams to explore potential volunteer partnerships. Alternatively, conduct outreach to HR departments or employee engagement leads at companies. Present your volunteering opportunities as part of their company's employee engagement or team-building initiatives. Be personal and direct - this will give you the best chance of success!
  6. Use online platforms and social media. Utilise social media channels to promote your organisation’s activities and volunteer opportunities. Engage with corporate audiences by sharing impactful stories, photos, and videos that showcase the positive impact of volunteering. Especially use online platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook to connect with corporate professionals interested in volunteering. If you expand your network, your promotion gets even more visibility!

That’s it! A long read this time, we know, but we’re confident that this helps your organisation in making those crucial steps to attract and engage corporate volunteers. 

The series is almost completed. Right now, you should know everything you need to know to harness the power of corporate volunteering. However, it helps to have some great impact examples. So stay tuned for our next installment, in which we highlight some examples to inspire you!

P.S. - Still loving the Coffee Mug ;)

Some highlights of 5 years at Deedmob

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Gerbrand Holland

Growth Manager

Gerbrand Holland is Growth Manager at Deedmob