An Employee Volunteer program cannot be built overnight and a great deal of planning, organization and communication has to take place before the plan can be implemented. The commitment to the program begins the moment the decision is made to investigate the possibilities.
Some employee volunteer programs are small, grassroots, employee-driven efforts and some are run by fully staffed departments. It is important to know where you are and what you are hoping to accomplish before laying the appropriate groundwork. Sometimes it is best to start small and increase the scope every year.
Regardless of size, all employee volunteer programs share the common goal of engaging employees with the community. What can differ are focus and motive (i.e. employee satisfaction, public recognition, making a difference, etc.).
Local, Informal, Grassroots, Employee-driven Program
Example: PCL Constructors Canada Ltd.
Employees created a competition between divisions to encourage each other to volunteer as an effective means of team building. Teams in the Toronto Region organized group volunteering activities and the impact of the activities was judged. The winning team received a donation from the company for the organization where they volunteered.
Local, More Formal, Strategic Program
EnCana revamped their employee volunteer program (EnCana Cares) where they encourage all employees and their families to volunteer within the community. EnCana will match the volunteer hours with a corporate donation (up to $1,000) to the non-profit involved. EnCana has also created a link to Volunteer Centres for all of its Alberta employees in order to assist them with their volunteer searches.
National, Formal, Strategic Program
Example: SAP Canada
SAP Canada Impacting Communities with Corporate Engagement
SAP’ corporate social responsibility program in Canada supports a wide range of projects and activities – from corporate giving and education programs to employee volunteerism. The program demonstrates how incorporating community stakeholders into our business network hot only supports corporate goals and responsibility, but also encourages nonprofit organizations to promote social change in a positive and sustainable way.
UPS encourages volunteering 24/7 and has a web-site for employees to log their hours. Their United Way Days of Caring are supported across the country, and they provide up to 5 loaned representatives for 16 weeks of work release time to help with United Way campaigns. UPS has a six-week program for senior management who wish to volunteer outside Canada and a Global Volunteer Month with employees undertaking volunteer activities from coast to coast.
Components of the framework of an employee volunteer program may differ depending on scope, but there is a basic structure to most programs. Some pieces you’ll want to implement before others depending upon the kind of program you develop.
Start with the volunteer activities:
- What are your program’s goals?
- What are the employee interests?
- What kinds of projects or activities do you want to offer?
From there, you might move on to policy.
- Who makes the decisions?
- Can you establish a committee, write up policies and get them approved?
- Can you create an action plan to publicize your program to employees, drum up interest, brand it, etc.?
There are decision-makers, but there are also stakeholders to consider in this process – people who can help you turn your framework into a strong program, help you get things done and people whose buy-in you need to be successful. Try writing down the name, title, or department of a decision-maker as well as the name, department, or title of a stakeholder (not always the same person) for each action item that requires buy-in from others. Think through potential roadblocks or challenges you think you might encounter while taking any of these action steps or approaching any of these decision-makers.
Back to Top - Go to Next Section: Checklist For Building an Employee Volunteer Program