The WeHero Volunteering Flywheel

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The flywheel effect seems to have taken over the business world. The theory is now discussed at the most prominent business schools and it’s appearing in more business books than ever before. Jim Collins is credited with creating the philosophy of the flywheel in his book Good to Great. If you haven’t heard of the flywheel concept, here’s a quick summary.

Small wins for your business accrue over time, building upon each, and eventually, they gain so much momentum that growth almost seems to happen by itself – this is similar to the momentum created by a flywheel on a rowing machine, hence, “the flywheel effect”.

The goal of our work with companies is to generate aligned, high-impact volunteering at scale. As we’ve spent more and more time studying what makes a program successful long-term, we’ve seen this flywheel effect happen again and again. Once a corporate volunteer program gains enough momentum, it can be run by an employee base that are all net-promoters of the company's mission. As companies work to build this type of impact, we’ve outlined the key factors that create this flywheel effect. 

Level One: Activating Employees at the Earliest Opportunity:

  • An employee's perception of the company they work for is most often decided within their first few months of employment. It’s essential for this employee to take part in a company’s CSR and corporate volunteering program as soon as they join. We recommend it as part of the new hire orientation or summer internship programs. Not only is this a great opportunity for them to meet other people within the organization but it also provides a backdrop and introduction into additional opportunities to give back. Additionally, when managers and senior leaders are involved in this type of volunteering, it’s a sign to all employees that it truly matters. 

Level Two: Company-Wide Activations

  • Company-wide activations are an essential part of building a strong and enduring corporate volunteering program. Taking time out of an employee's schedule shows them that this is a priority within the company. More importantly, it gives the company the opportunity to tell the necessary stories create empathy around volunteering, which is essential for ensuring that employees are motivated to continue volunteering. Whether it’s hearing from the individuals they’re supporting or a simulation to put the employees in the shoes of the cause, these company-wide activities are essential for creating a strong culture of volunteering. 

Level Three: Volunteer Champions Created

  • Through these efforts, the company will create a class of employees that can act as Volunteer Champions. These individuals are motivated to expand the company’s overall volunteer program and the impact they can deliver to the communities that need support. These are the individuals that plan additional events, share empathy-creating news stories, and encourage all leaders to take part in volunteering. Through the work of these Volunteer Champions, your company will build an even stronger volunteering program. 

It’s important to note that these are actions which all companies can take, but, in order to optimize a volunteering and CSR program, it’s essential to leverage data. Surveying to reinvigorate the program so it best fits with the company’s mission and what employees want is key. This should be the main focus for CSR professionals. 

The Writers

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

“The finance revolution is here”

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