Operation Warm | July 20, 2020

How Employee Volunteer Programs are Changing in 2020

How will socially responsible business leaders move forward in 2020 with plans to give back?

Smart companies know that the way forward in business is through corporate social responsibility and a strong commitment to lead for the benefit of all of their stakeholders, from employees to customers and communities.

Employee volunteering holds an established place in the portfolio of corporate responsibility approaches. It is important to recognize that in the wake of modern business demands and the drastic changes due to COVID-19, employee volunteer programs need to be adapted and rebooted to meet changing needs and changing expectations.

According to Kirsten Bradley, Partnerships Director at Operation Warm, corporations are looking for ways their employees can continue to volunteer together for a good cause, despite the challenges that come with social distancing. “Our partners are working with us to create both virtual volunteer opportunities and hands-on volunteering in a safe socially-distanced way,” she says.

“One challenge a socially responsible company faces is this: consultants may be advising them not to ask nonprofits to do something new,” Bradley says. “Fortunately, there are nonprofits, such as ours, that do have the experience and innovation to adapt and customize programs for a strong corporate volunteer experience.”

Laura Plato, Chief Solutions Officer at Volunteer Match offers professional insight into what employee volunteering looks like in 2020, along with some solid advice for finding the best opportunity for all of your stakeholders.

“The most successful volunteer programs are the ones built from companies and nonprofits working together,” she says. “Find a nonprofit that aligns with your company’s values or line of business. Ask them questions, listen, and find out how you can serve their needs while creating rewarding experiences for your employees.”

“It’s a good idea to provide flexible volunteering opportunities for employees who have varying comfort levels with in-person and virtual volunteering. With regards to in-person volunteering, many nonprofits are adapting their practices to be in line with the CDC’s guidelines,” Plato says. “With virtual volunteering, it is a good idea to start with the skills your employees have. Do they have design skills? Business management skills? Accounting skills? Search for skills-based virtual volunteer opportunities that maximize what your employees have to offer.”

Do you have a large team? Plato suggests dividing them into smaller groups that volunteer on different days or times. “If your team is volunteering virtually, it is also a good idea to organize a virtual meet and greet between them and the nonprofit you would all like to serve,” she says. “It is also a good practice to have virtual check-ins where your employees can talk about their projects and experiences.”

“With a larger team, getting a high number of volunteer hours completed in one opportunity can be a challenge this year,” Bradley says. “But when we work directly with the partner to customize a program that fits their needs, it can be done. Look for a partnership with a larger nonprofit that has enough reach to make this work.”

Interested in aligning your organization with Operation Warm’s mission to provide warmth, confidence and hope to children in need? Learn more about our corporate partnership opportunities.

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