Corporate or employee volunteering takes place when employees of a company perform volunteer work through their workplace. Corporate volunteering is a fantastic way for organisations to give back to their local community. Generally corporate volunteering takes two forms: activity-based volunteering and skills-based volunteering. Depending on the nature of the role, such activities may be undertaken by one employee or a team of employees. Corporate volunteering activities may be organised internally by liaising directly with volunteer involving organisations, or through an intermediary, such as a volunteering support service, who plan and manage the activity.
Although corporate volunteering generally consists of one-off or short-term opportunities, the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement should still be applied to the volunteering engagement. Any roles should be accompanied by position descriptions, an induction, support throughout the activity, and recognition for the contribution.
One of the important things to clarify in any corporate volunteering engagement is who is responsible for insurance. Generally, because employees are undertaking volunteering through their workplace, they are covered by Worker’s Compensation provided by their employer. It is important to clarify any insurance expectations up front, including coverage for after hours and weekend work. Public liability insurance will not usually extend to employee volunteers because they are formally engaged by your organisation, and not a third party. To be sure you have the right insurances in place it is best to contact your insurer directly.
Activity-based or team volunteering is the most popular form of corporate volunteering. This usually involves a team of employees attending an organisation, service, or program to help out for a set number of hours doing a specific list of duties. This type of volunteering is attractive to companies because it is a good team building exercise and is often easier to organise. It is important to ensure that activity-based opportunities add value to your organisation and to the employees who are participating.
Skills-based volunteering involves someone volunteering their professional skills to your organisation to contribute to a defined project. Skills-based volunteering can be undertaken individually or in teams, depending on the nature of the project and the work required. Skills-based volunteering may be one-off, short-term, or long-term and can be performed on site or remotely.
To get the most out of skills-based volunteering it is recommended that you provide a comprehensive brief about the desired outputs and outcomes of your project. This will enable prospective volunteers to understand the volume of work required and whether they have the expertise to contribute.
A strategic approach to involving corporate volunteers will ensure any arrangements are beneficial for both parties. It can be advantageous to identify suitable corporate volunteering opportunities in advance that companies can select from if they are interested in working with your organisation. There is no obligation to provide corporate volunteering opportunities and your organisation is within its rights to decline offers of assistance if there is no clear value proposition to either party.
When scoping corporate volunteering activities consider the following:
- What roles/tasks does your organisation need help with that can be completed in a short amount of time?
- What skills are required to undertake the role?
- What supervision is your organisation able to provide?
- What does your organisation need to do to comply with work, health and safety, insurance, legal, and other compliance requirements?
- If the activity requires supplies is your organisation in a position to provide them?
- Will you charge a fee to the participating company to cover your organisation’s costs in organising and supporting the activity?
This list of questions is not exhaustive, but it is important to remember that all volunteering activities require some degree of volunteer management, and this comes at a cost to your organisation. Scoping activities in advance will allow you to understand whether you are in a position to resource the involvement of corporate volunteers.