When you think of volunteering, you probably think of someone working with a non-profit organisation in their own time, and in fairly traditional ways. But what if we told you there is another way?
The words ‘employee volunteering’ probably conjure images of corporate team-building days painting walls or weeding gardens for local non-profits. But it can be so much more!
With structured Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies becoming the norm within UK businesses, we are witnessing the rise of employee volunteering in a more strategic and impactful way. Think longer term, skilled projects such as marketing support or web design.
Of course, individual volunteering is still a popular option which often gives people more flexibility to support the organisations that matter most to them, in a way that best suits them.
In this blog, we will compare these volunteering methods and take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Individual volunteering is when a person chooses to dedicate their spare time to contribute to a charitable cause, helping others, or environmental projects for example. The individual will actively seek out the volunteering opportunity likely because they have the desire to make a difference to a cause that really matters to them.
When it comes to volunteering, it’s not just the charity or organisation that benefits. For the volunteer, there’s lots to gain too, from developing new skills, to building relationships.
The disadvantages of volunteering are few and far between. One thing to bear in mind is your commitment to the cause.
We’re all human, and we can only juggle so many things at once. Over time, priorities change and you may have less time to commit to volunteering. Our advice is to be honest with the organisation you’re working with, let them know if you need to decrease your hours and rearrange your time commitments. The organisation will likely still appreciate your support!
The main reason people give up on volunteering is down to poor organisation and lack of support in the role. Good volunteering opportunities will speak for themselves – literally! Word of mouth recommendations from existing volunteers demonstrates that an organisation works well with its volunteers and will provide you with a positive experience – so look out for these when you’re applying for volunteer opportunities.
Employee volunteering is when your employer allows you to have a specified amount of paid time off to volunteer for an organisation during working hours – usually a few days each year. It’s otherwise known as Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV).
More and more companies are becoming purpose-driven; they recognise that prioritising purpose over profit results in faster growth and achieves higher employee and consumer satisfaction. Many companies choose to lead with purpose by giving back to their local communities via methods that align with their corporate values.
The opportunities available through employee volunteering usually support the business’s CSR programme. Companies combine these policies in order to give back to their local community.
An employee volunteering programme may encourage employees to give their time to their company’s chosen charities. This could include activities such as fundraising events and team challenges, or spending the day with a charity conducting activities like fence painting or gardening. Other businesses take a more flexible approach, allowing their employees to devote their volunteer time to an organisation of their choice, and provide more meaningful, longer-term support.
All of the benefits of individual volunteering very much apply to employee volunteering. However, employee volunteering has its own range of advantages that could help you excel in your career.
Read more about the business benefits of employee volunteering.
A well-planned, structured employee volunteering strategy will determine how much you gain through employee volunteering. So what does an effective strategy look like?
NCVO states that ‘while ESV can benefit employers and their staff, charities and workers in public services, it is important to ensure that the needs of all parties are matched.’
Let’s take a look at an example of ineffective ESV. An organisation wants to focus on team building, so they arrange to send their employees to a residential home to tidy up the garden. However, they haven’t spoken to the organisation about what they need. What the residential home actually requires is telephone befrienders or drivers. So here, the residential home doesn’t benefit as much as the employees or the company.
Ensuring that you, your chosen charities, and the company you work for mutually benefit from the arrangement is the key to a successful volunteering programme. Strong communication between all three groups means everyone will reap the rewards of employee volunteering.
So, there you have the pros and cons of individual and employee volunteering. Which type do you think is best for you?
While individual volunteering is what most of us imagine when we think of volunteering, don’t underestimate the positive impact, personal development, and potential for team building that employee volunteering gives.
At Social Good Connect, we combine the flexibility and autonomy of individual volunteering with the strategic impact and potential for skilled support that comes with employee volunteering. We connect employees directly to their perfect volunteer opportunities and help businesses develop their CSR strategies.
Our search and match function matches you to volunteering opportunities that resonate with your objectives, skills, and motives so you can get the most out of your volunteering experience.
Want to get started? Let your company know about the benefits of volunteering through work and get in touch with Social Good Connect to see how we can help.
Written by Holly Moore