6 Tips for Implementing an Employee Volunteer Program

HR staff may frown at the idea of committing time and resources to forming and running an employee volunteer program (EVP), especially at a large company. Employee volunteer programs are company managed and sponsored, so staff may feel overwhelmed at the thought of having more work on their plates. That frown will quickly turn into a beaming smile, however, when the HR team learns that corporate responsibility (CSR) efforts can reduce staff turnover by up to 50%, increase productivity by up to 13% and increase employee engagement by up to 7.5%. Implementing employee volunteer programs can be a seamless process, especially with the technology available today.


One driving force behind these compelling statistics is the fact that employees actually want to work for a company that promotes CSR, especially volunteerism. This blog provides six strategies to help harness and leverage the power of employee volunteer programs to enhance employee satisfaction and make meaningful contributions to society.






The first part of a strategy is to decide what success will look like for the company. What are the objectives of the volunteer program – is there a set employee engagement target or social outcome target? 


The CSR team needs to choose what kind of program to implement. Companies have several options when it comes to selecting what employee volunteer programs to implement. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Paid time off to volunteer with a nonprofit of the employee’s choosing
  • Employer-sponsored volunteer days in which company teams volunteer at select nonprofits
  • Grants for employee time or board position. Better known as dollars for doers, companies will provide nonprofits with a financial donation after an employee has spent a certain amount of time volunteering or serves on the board for that organization


You also need to provide guidelines. Employees must be given clear guidance on what can and cannot count as volunteer work. For example, will both skill-based and hands-on volunteerism count? Are any nonprofits excluded from volunteer programs? Additionally, the plan must also include how departments or site offices will manage employee volunteer programs. Having these written guidelines will make the approval process efficient.        






An easy way to ensure a high level of employee engagement is to support causes that employees are passionate about. One way to get this information is to have employees complete an electronic survey. A 100% response rate is not guaranteed, but those who respond are likely to participate enthusiastically. Empowering employees to have input is a strong message showing employees that leadership trusts and values their opinions.






Leadership support of CSR shows employees that the company’s commitment is “more than just talk.” As mentioned above, employees should be key influencers of activities, but leaders need to be CSR advocates as well. Publically, company executives should volunteer themselves and report on the importance and progress of CSR activities at events such as annual meetings. It is equally important, executives to actively solicit feedback from EVP organizers, as well as recognize and thank employees for their service; a written thank you note or personalized email still makes a difference. Without leadership commitment, employees may feel like they are being pushed to do something that the company does not value.  






Survey employees to understand what might be hindering employee engagement. With the results, CSR managers will be able to remove barriers and simplify the EVP process. Having a web-portal to search for and sign up for volunteer opportunities, log completed hours, and check on progress towards dollars for doers goals is the best solution. CSR managers can also add an element of fun to the web portal by encouraging employees to share pictures and stories online. 






Decentralize the management and motivation of employee engagement by appointing EVP Ambassadors in various departments or office locations. These Ambassadors will be responsible for driving any office-specific CSR or employee volunteer program engagements, working as a liaison between leadership and staff, and getting staff excited about the volunteer opportunities. The CSR team will most likely have volunteers for EVP Ambassadors, but the people who take the time to be EVP Ambassadors deserve a reward for their efforts. Some ideas for incentives include an extra day of paid time off, gift cards, or office perks such as a priority parking space.






As with any other business operation, CSR/EVP efforts need to be actively tracked and analyzed. CSR leaders should work with these Employee Volunteer Program Ambassadors to get a pulse on which programs have high engagement, what needs to be adjusted, and what programs might need to be discontinued. CSR managers need to manage what matters, such as:

  • Total hours volunteered
  • Monetary value of hours (both hands-on and skills-based work)
  • How did nonprofit partners benefit/what did they learn from the volunteers?
  • How did employees benefit/what did they learn from volunteering?
  • Are employees more satisfied with their work?
  • How has employee engagement changed over time?



If your company wants to reap the benefits of a successful employee volunteer program, DonationXchange is here to help. Learn more about our dynamic philanthropy platform.