Organizing a volunteer opportunity for your employees isn't merely a nice thing to do — it can create a number of positive benefits for your team. Getting outside the office is often a refreshing change, and working side-by-side to support a worthy cause can be a great bonding experience. What's more, volunteering allows people a chance to shake off their workplace routine and try to use their skills in a new way.
But not all volunteer opportunities are created equal. You want to use your time well and find something that gets people excited, and that requires a bit of forethought. Here are some tips for how to look for the right activities:
1. Showcase Your Business's Skills
When you're looking for volunteer opportunities, consider showing off your business's strengths by choosing a nonprofit organization with a problem that your business has the specialized skills to solve. This way, not only are you giving back to the community, you're also offering potential customers a chance to see just what your business can do and how your team works together.
For example, a hardware store or construction company could lend its expertise to do light repair work for charities that house people in need. A marketing consulting firm could partner with a nonprofit to help revamp their website copy. Or, staff from a food service company could simply work in a soup kitchen for a day.
2. Honor Your Employees' Values
Choosing to support a cause near and dear to your employees' hearts is a great way to show your team that you value them. Everyone has their own favorite cause, but look for something with a deeper connection that the whole team can rally around. Maybe environmentalism strikes a chord with most of your employees — in that case, contact local volunteer groups that maintain wetlands or river areas. Or, employees may coalesce around a coworker who has grappled personally with an issue, such as having a family member diagnosed with cancer. The team can show solidarity by participating in an event to fund cancer research organizations.
Open up a conversation with your group of employees to ask about what causes they care about, and find something that resonates with the group.
3. Answer a Community Need
Occasionally, nonprofits may struggle to find things for a group of volunteers to do, so it's a good idea to look for nonprofits that are actively asking for volunteers. Seek out nonprofits that specifically ask for help — when you answer the call, you're likely to find an enthusiastic reception and plenty of work to dig into.
Look through volunteering websites and charity connectors in your area to find the right fit for your team. It may take longer to set up your volunteer day by this method, but waiting for a good opportunity can lead to a better experience when the day arrives.
Plan Ahead for a Successful Volunteer Day
Prepare your team ahead of time when you're planning an off-site volunteer day. Ensure each volunteer is familiar with the organization you're working for, and that they know what's expected in terms of actual work on the day, whether it's cleaning, fundraising, planting, etc.
Be clear about what's expected of each volunteer ahead of time, so that they can plan appropriate attire and get started right away when your group arrives on site. For example, an outdoor cleanup job in a neighborhood park requires weather-appropriate clothing, footwear, sunscreen, bug repellent and gloves.
Remember, successful volunteer days should benefit the nonprofit, the individuals taking part, the community and your business. A little planning and preparation could be all you need. Start gathering ideas from your employees today.