What is Corporate Volunteering

What is Corporate Volunteering?

Ben Darlington | 9 February 16

Corporate volunteering (also called employee volunteering) is a really simple and effective way for businesses to contribute to the community.

Companies give their employees an allowance of paid time off annually, which they use to volunteer at a charity of their choice. This enables staff to make a difference in as little as an afternoon, and has incredible potential for community impact.

Does my business have to do it?

For the moment, businesses don’t have to have an employee-volunteering programme, or even allow employees to have time off. However, David Cameron has recently revived his longstanding and much-discussed pledge to introduce a mandatory three days’ volunteering leave, which would affect 15 million workers. For more information and musings as to how this policy might affect volunteering, have a look at our blog.

Although employee volunteering is, for now, voluntary, more and more businesses are introducing it, and are recognising the hugely beneficial effects on the employee, the business and the community. Employee volunteering is fast becoming the norm, and a strong EV programme is crucial when it comes to staying ahead of your competitors.

To find out more about how many businesses offer time off to volunteer, and how much, have a look at our employee volunteering statistics, which paint an interesting picture of the state of volunteering nationally.

So who’s doing it and what are they doing? 

Businesses large and small are running amazing projects. Here at Benefacto, we’ve seen volunteers from companies such as CMS, Accenture and Citibank run CV and employment workshops, maintain ancient cemeteries, and repair bikes to be used by refugees. If you’re looking for inspiring examples, Business in the Community’s annual Give and Gain Day, a global day of employee volunteering, is a great place to start. Over 30,000 employees from hundreds of companies took part in projects with schools, charities and community groups worldwide.

What isn’t it?

It’s also worth pointing out what isn’t employee volunteering. Your employees probably take part in loads of charitable activities already, from sponsored runs and bike rides, to volunteering in their spare time. This is great – but it’s not employee volunteering. Employee volunteering must be a structured company policy, that not only supports its employee’s own efforts, but gives them the time and opportunities to do so.

BNFO_BarnMaryle_Ashurst_Katysquare_1_160203 Case Study: Katy, a volunteer from Ashurst:
“I volunteered with Barnardo’s at a charity shop in Marylebone. its a great opportunity to meet lots of new people and do something really meaningful with your day. I think it also gives you quite a good sense of perspective when you return to work.”

What does it cost?

There are two costs involved in an employee volunteering programme: the cost of brokering and organising the volunteering, and the lost staff time whilst they’re volunteering. However, employee volunteering does wonders for engagement and productivity, and we’ve worked out that even a tiny increase in staff productivity or reduction in staff turnover will offset the costs. In pretty much all cases, employee volunteering actually saves you money!

Use our employee volunteering calculator to work out what employee volunteering will cost your business, and the likely return on investment.

Sounds great – how do I get involved? 

The first thing to do is to create a good employee volunteering policy, and then think about how to organise it so that staff will actually get out of the office and volunteer. If this sounds daunting, read our guide to getting started here. At Benefacto we help organisations build fantastic, high-impact volunteering schemes, so get in touch to book a meeting! If you need a bit of convincing, get to grips with the compelling business case for corporate volunteering.

Want some help from Team Benefacto?

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We've helped over 100 companies develop their volunteering programmes and we'd love to help you too

Ben Darlington looks after new partnerships and possibilities at Benefacto. He has been involved with the project since its inception back in 2012, building the website and developing the graphic design. He is always looking for ways for charities, businesses and social enterprises to work together. If you'd like to work with Benefacto talk to Ben at ben@benefacto.org.