Just getting started in corporate volunteering? Our friends at Pathable have provided some quick and easy ways to dip your corporate toe into employee volunteering without creating an extensive strategy or Volunteer Leaders Network. When you’re ready to go deeper, contact us at Realized Worth! In the meantime, read here for accessible ways to get started.
Without the right strategy, handling a corporate volunteering program involving several nonprofit partners and employees can be challenging. However, you don’t want to commit your people and financial resources to a program without ensuring that you are getting the desired results.
That is why you need to create opportunities for relationship building between your organization, the nonprofits you are working with, and your employees. Making such connections will lead to more effective collaborations and a more significant impact on your volunteering program’s success.
There are different ways to go about this relationship building. One way is to offer opportunities for your employees to get involved in contributing their time and skills in service to the nonprofits, apart from physical involvement in community activities. The other way to grow this relationship is to organize events where your partners and employees can interact, learn, and share ideas.
This article explores ways to create more synergy between your organization, nonprofit partners, and employees. You will learn how to redefine your goals, communicate these goals, and create a virtual or hybrid event action plan to build sustainable relationships that will impact communities. The following points are covered:
- Rethinking Your Corporate Volunteering Strategy
- Discuss Program Direction with Stakeholders
- Why You Should Consider Hosting an Event
- Creating Your Virtual or Hybrid Event
Let’s dive in to learn more!
Rethinking Your Corporate Volunteering Strategy
The first step towards effective relationship building with your nonprofit partners is to ensure that the causes they are involved in align with your company’s and employees’ passion. Because this is about volunteering, you want to hear from employees about the nonprofits they are already involved with and see how you can bring them into your corporate programs as well.
You can ask employees to fill out a questionnaire to indicate the nonprofits they are already involved with within your program and the ones they want included. They probably have some existing connections.
When you have the responses, follow up with the organizations that match your company’s CSR goals. When making your selection, pick nonprofits with enough space in their program to accommodate your employees. You want to impact these nonprofits so that they, in turn, can impact their communities.
Discuss Program Direction with Stakeholders
Develop an action plan on your corporate volunteering program, what you expect, and what everyone stands to benefit from. Do you want direct involvement, like your employees showing up on a day for specific community action? Or do you want strategic partnerships involving your employees contributing professional skills and time to helping the nonprofits in their program operations? The latter helps to form long-lasting partnerships and creates opportunities for virtual volunteering.
You have to be clear about what you want to achieve as a company and communicate this to stakeholders, management staff, employees, and nonprofits. To be clear, highlight some objectives for your program. Here are some examples of corporate volunteering objectives and benefits as suggested by Volunteering Service Oversea and other credible sources:
- Build brand recognition as a great place to work
- Attract and retain top talent
- Engage employees in community activities and boost their morale
- Develop sustainable leaders for your organization, communities, and the world
- Discover new markets and opportunities
- Innovate new products and services
These objectives will help shape your corporate volunteering policy so your stakeholders will know that you have a clear direction for your program.
In the same vein, highlight the objectives for employees participating in your volunteering program. Those can include the following:
- Opportunities to enhance their skills
- Experience in mentoring others
- Satisfaction in making community impacts
- Cross-cultural awareness and communication skills
By creating a different set of objectives for your employees, more will be willing to join the program as they can see how it benefits them as well.
You should also outline your objectives for your nonprofit partners. Non-profits have a lot to gain too from skill-based volunteering. Some of the benefits you can highlight are as follows:
- Acquire new energy, ideas, and enthusiasm for projects and tasks
- Access to professional skills, expertise, and resources
- Reduction in budget spend on personnel
- Improved program process
- A rise in the profile of your nonprofit’s activities and services
- Potential to develop valuable and long-term relationships
By making the above clear to all your stakeholders, everyone onboard will know what to expect and how best to make the partnership fulfill the desired objectives. Apart from using the objectives to develop a policy document, you can also draw out useful content for the stakeholders’ event program.
Why You Should Consider Hosting an Event
While it is possible to share information with stakeholders using emails and internal memos, nothing comes close to hosting an event. It’s dedicating a day or more to intensive discussions and interactions with stakeholders which is crucial to networking. It works for both organizations just getting started with corporate volunteering and those trying to improve on existing relationships. The goal is to create stronger connections and facilitate mutual understanding.
What format will the event take?
Depending on the size of your organization, if you have employees in different locations, and where your nonprofit partners are based. If your employees and partners are in multiple cities or countries, you may consider hosting a fully virtual event so that they do not need to travel down to attend. However, if most of your employees and nonprofits are based in one city, you may consider hosting a hybrid event. With that, you can have a physical gathering and also accommodate those who may wish to join online.
Creating Your Virtual or Hybrid Event
To create an event for the purpose of bringing your stakeholders together to interact, and share ideas, you have to focus on providing a learning experience and help participants connect freely. Here’s where to get started:
Plan for Immersive Learning Experience
Create topics and invite speakers in line with your corporate volunteering direction. Speakers can be from your management team and nonprofit partners. You can also invite an external person that has vast knowledge about volunteering programs. Make the learning sessions as interactive as possible so that everyone can participate actively.
Creating Meaningful Connections
Create opportunities for attendees to make connections and interact with each other. First, ensure that everyone has a user profile that indicates their skills and interests. There should also be an event directory page where all event participants can be seen. With that in place, take a step further to create small group experiences and discussion forums to boost interaction.
Create breakout groups where nonprofits and their employees can discuss volunteering opportunities and how they can get involved. Allow attendees to join a group of their choice based on the group profile and which nonprofit is anchoring the group. For effectiveness, participants should not be more than 20 in a group.
Public discussion forum
In addition to the breakout groups, create online discussion forums where all participants are allowed to post topics and make contributions to what other people on the platform post. One of the advantages of a discussion forum is that it is always available as long as the platform is live so there is no time restriction about when to make a post or contribute.
Use an Integrated Virtual/Hybrid Event Solution
You need a reliable virtual or hybrid event platform with all the features you require to support your event and make it as impactive, interactive, and fun as possible. Look for an integrated virtual event platform and app solution. Such platform will have the features you need for a successful event including:
- User profiles and directory
- Interactive live-streaming
- Embedded interactive tools for Q&A, polling, and gamification
- Breakout groups
If you are contemplating a hybrid event, you will also need the following in addition to an integrated virtual event platform/app solution:
- Video cameras
- Sound production
- Lighting and stage setting
- Monitor screens
- AV in breakout rooms
- Hybrid breakout groups
If you consider the above requirement to hold a hybrid event, you will notice more logistics are required. Therefore, you may want to stick to a virtual event for your corporate volunteering program stakeholders event.
By creating an atmosphere for thoughtful discussions and interactions between your nonprofits partners and employees, your organization can understand the areas of need and discover new ways to get involved.
Nonprofits too will find top-skilled talent to help with their program operations. Your employees will also be happy for the opportunity to make an impact outside of their work schedule. The result of these is long-lasting relationships of making impacts on communities together.
Christina Tomlinson is the VP of Marketing & Events at Pathable. With over 8 years of experience in the event industry, Christina prides herself on her creativity, passion for people, and ability to create memorable experiences.
Before joining the Pathable team, some of Christina’s experience includes directing a team as the Associate Director of Events for a DMC in Austin, TX and marketing, planning, and executing brand events as the Regional Event Manager at a corporate experiential agency.
Through her years of experience, Christina strives to remain a thought leader in her industry, and places a high value on evolution and growth in the events space.