Over the last year, we have been working hard to understand what makes a successful employer supported volunteering programme. It is great that more and more employers are giving their staff time to volunteer, but without employee engagement, this is no more than a worthless gesture.
We spoke to organisations who have had great success with their employer supported volunteering schemes and they all had one thing in common: a volunteer champion.
What is the role?
A volunteer champion is someone within the company who is responsible for encouraging engagement and monitoring social good activities. This could be any member of staff from any department, be that a CSR manager, HR, Finance, whatever it may be!
Think of that employee who is always getting involved with bake-sales or charity events, the member of staff who is consistently cheery, enthusiastic, and great at engaging their teammates.
What makes a good volunteer champion?
A good volunteer champion isn’t necessarily the person who has the most experience in the third sector, it is the person who is always up for organising office events and getting their teammates enthusiastic about getting involved too.
A good volunteer champion is usually:
- Chatty – someone who would be happy to talk to anyone in the office and always up for a conversation.
- Outgoing and bubbly – the kind of person who fills a room with their infectious energy.
- Confident – this role requires encouraging people to step out of their comfort zone and get involved with something they may never have done before, it may also require reporting back to senior management and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone too, the volunteer champion needs to be confident enough to take these challenges on.
- Organised – while our reporting dashboard does the work for you, the volunteer champion should keep on top of promoting the available volunteer hours and coordinating any other social good activities that may be happening, they should keep an eye on the reporting dashboard and celebrate any milestones or small wins in the team.
- Community spirit – this person should be committed to communities. Whether that is your office team, the wider community, their friends or family; the volunteer champion should be someone who sees the value of coming together as a community.
What are the benefits?
This may seem like a lot of work, and while it’s certainly a commitment, there are definitely benefits involved!
A sense of purpose
The volunteer champion role is often critical to the success of any employer supported volunteering efforts. Having a volunteer champion on your team can be the difference between making a significant and meaningful impact on your community and your team, or making no impact at all.
The volunteer champion can take pride in the importance and value of their role and seize the opportunity to positively influence their company and wider community.
Taking on this role is an opportunity to gain some strategic experience in managing a team and reporting on progress. This is a role with a level of responsibility which may be outside the team-member’s usual field of work. It is a chance to try something new.
Make it work for you
This is a role which should be created and agreed between the organisation and the appointed volunteer champion. It can be as flexible and varied as you both like, but expectations and responsibilities should be clearly outlined from the beginning.
This role could be shared between two or more employees and could include responsibility for further social good activities outside of volunteering too. Taking on this role means collaborating with your managers to create a role which works for you all!
This was a whirlwind introduction to the role of volunteer champion, if you want to know more about how to get started as a volunteer champion or how to choose the perfect candidate – please get in touch!