We understand that CSR managers face day to day logistics that don’t always feel inspiring. Let us provide some practical tips that will bring you one step closer to a wildly successful employee volunteer program.
In my recent article, “The 3 stages of the Volunteer: What They Need From You and How to Recognize Them” I explained that not all employee volunteers are the same – and they should not be treated the same. If you pay attention, identify which stage your participants are in, and respond appropriately, your volunteer events can become transformational experiences. Employees will become better at what they do and who they are, communities will benefit from the efforts of your company, and your company will be filled with better, more capable people. This is the potential of employee volunteering.
Of course, we understand that CSR managers face day to day logistics that don’t always feel inspiring. Let us provide some practical tips that will bring you one step closer to a wildly successful employee volunteer program. It’s likely that there are grassroots volunteer opportunities being organized all over your company. Do you know some of the people organizing those events? Send this article to them – they’ll appreciate the support!
Every employee volunteer needs a basic briefing at the start of an event. This is every event, every time, without fail. First-time volunteers in particular need the direction that the brief offers; without it, they are likely to feel uncomfortable and unnecessary. The brief should take 10-15 minutes, before the event begins. All you have to do is gather everyone in one area (we recommend standing on a chair) and go through the following:
During the brief, do these 4 things:
- Thank everyone for coming
- Explain why they’re there, and why that’s important
- Outline the logistics of the day
- Remind them that there will be a short debrief at the end of the event.
1. Thank everyone for coming
This may seem like common sense, but expressing genuine gratitude for your volunteers is something that often gets lost in the activity. Let them know that no matter how much they accomplish at the activity, it is simply the act of “showing up” that matters.
2. Explain why they’re there, and why that’s important. Setting expectations is vital. If people aren’t told what to expect, they will make assumptions and become frustrated.
Many volunteers will evaluate the activity based on their own personal productivity. If they got a lot done after the day is over, they will feel like it was a “good” event. If they didn’t accomplish anything, they are likely to feel frustrated.
Your job during the brief is to adjust their expectations. The activity is NOT about how much work is accomplished; rather, it is to communicate value to the community being served. Volunteering happens in places where people don’t have access to the help that they need; your employee volunteers are there to say, “We believe you are valuable and you are worth our time.”
Explain to your volunteers that the most important thing they will do at the event is give their time to the community. That day’s activities are not going to solve any long-term problems, but they will say, “You (or this cause) are worth my time.” Remind your volunteers: “The value of the people being served is not based on what they have or don’t have; what they do or don’t do – and neither is yours.”
3. Outline the logistics of the day
Another part of helping volunteers feel comfortable is making sure they know the basics of where to go and what to do at an event. Take a moment to point out who’s in charge and welcome volunteers to approach those people with questions.
Point out other important information. For example:
- Where to pick up tools
- Where lunch and/or snacks will be located
- What time the event is scheduled to end
- Where the restrooms are
4. Remind them that there will be a short debrief after the eventVolunteers will need a reminder at the end of the event to take time to reflect and consider how their volunteering experience affected them. Let them know during the brief that you would like them to gather for 10 minutes after the event is over to do a group debrief. Tell them where you would like them to gather. It is likely that some people will need to leave early to attend to other obligations. Ask those people to check in with you before they go. (More on the debrief later!)
Remember, your role in facilitating employee volunteering at your company is one that has the potential to change the world – one employee at a time. At Realized Worth, we genuinely believe this and we’re privileged to help make it happen.
Call us to discuss how we can make your employee volunteering efforts more successful! 317.371.4435 Or you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org