Temporary to Permanent – How Corporate Volunteer Programs Have Changed, Potentially Forever
It was Spring of 2020 when everyone in the CSR and corporate social impact world had to drop what they were doing and put a hold on any further actions related to their strategy for the year. With goals still unmet and employees eager to give back, companies across the country, both big and small, started implementing temporary solutions that allowed their teams to participate in corporate volunteerism from the safety of their homes. Now with a vaccine being widely distributed, discussions of when the team may be back in-office, and companies offering more flexible work arrangements, CSR and corporate impact teams are faced with the question: How will our corporate volunteer programs change permanently?
Working with hundreds of companies big and small, we’re seeing a number of common themes. We shared insight into this on today’s webinar with WeSpire and Octo (if you missed it, here’s a recording), but the following is our recommendation on how to run and execute corporate volunteerism amidst a year that will likely be filled with drastic change.
VTO to Structured DIY Volunteer Opportunities
One trend that we’re seeing is that VTO is essentially a “no go” for many companies in 2021. Asking employees to find their own volunteer opportunities without encouraging them to do in-person activities is challenging. Having an employee find an exclusively virtual volunteer opportunity that makes an impact and aligns with the company’s social impact goals can take hours. This is where we’re seeing the rapid emergence of structured DIY volunteer opportunities. What exactly does that look like?
WeHero thinks of a DIY volunteer opportunity as a structured volunteer experience that an employee can select. Think of it as an Airbnb of curated volunteer opportunities. Employees can visit a link to a page of opportunities that the CSR or social impact team has selected. Employees then complete the volunteer project on their own time whether it’s 100% virtual or it’s a home program where materials are mailed to the employees’ doorstep (a good example of this is WeHero’s Honey Harvest program).
Zoom Fatigue and The Desire for Hands-on
We all see it – Zoom fatigue amidst our teams is real. The last thing our people want to do is jump on another web conference call at the end of the day to do a 100% virtual volunteer program.
People are yearning to get their hands dirty and wanting to be fully involved in their volunteer efforts. This is why we’re seeing more and more companies adjust from 100% virtual to more hybrid programs in which components of volunteer events are shipped to the employees’ homes. When people can associate the impact they are creating with the physical work they are doing, the experience is taken to another level. We believe hands-on volunteer work will be here to stay whether it’s at home or in-office. For examples of hands-on experiences, take a look at the WeHero programs to get a few ideas for your corporate volunteer program.
A major theme we’re noticing from these curated volunteer programs is the desire from employees to have an educational aspect during their volunteering. This is especially clear when employees are volunteering from home with children and families. Many participants in WeHero’s volunteer experiences noted that they appreciated the educational components and included their children, with the hope that they could learn something new alongside them.
We are confident that participation in curated DIY volunteer opportunities will only increase in 2021 as more companies select programs that align with their strategic goals.
Skills-based Team Projects
Skills-based volunteering (or pro-bono volunteering) has been around for some time. Naturally, it’s a go-to for many companies operating in this virtual landscape. Skills-based also has huge benefits.
- When managed correctly, the programs can generate a massive amount of impact by leveraging a company’s greatest resource, human talent.
- The programs can be project-based and vary in length based on the goals of the company and the needs of the nonprofit.
- Our personal favorite: skills-based volunteering enables companies, teams, and employees to build long-lasting relationships with nonprofit organizations. We believe this should be one of the foundational goals for all employee volunteer programs. Companies need to activate employees around a cause that aligns with the company’s mission.
We only see involvement in skills-based volunteering increasing over the coming years. For more information on WeHero’s approach to skills-based volunteering, make sure to visit our page here.
What Does Success Look Like?
From our perspective, WeHero is seeing companies have the most success by implementing a blend of all the corporate volunteer structures listed above. In doing this successfully, companies are hitting their volunteer engagement goals, maximizing impact, building long term relationships with nonprofits, and making their employees feel AMAZING! While daunting, setting up these programs can be simple with the right partners. WeHero is always here to help to point you and your company in the right direction.
We hope you found this useful, and happy giving as we all dive into the dynamic year of 2021!