With an estimated 11 million people in the UK given paid time off to volunteer, many employers already offer some form of community involvement program. This reflects a growing consensus that these are a good way to give back while at the same time strengthening corporate reputation and employee engagement.
However, as corporate volunteering increases, so does the need for these programs to be more than unfocused, feel good public relations initiatives - the growing tidal wave of employee hours should translate into real world benefits for charities and non-profits. Most fundamentally, this requires companies to have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve through volunteering and a means to assess the impact of employee efforts. (The evidence indicates there is some way to go here.)
Effective corporate programmes also tend to harness the power of skills based volunteering, so that highly trained people do less in the way of basic tasks such as painting walls or collecting litter, and instead make greater use of their core skills, thereby adding far more value in the short time allotted. As well as having a greater impact, skills based volunteering is likely to be motivating for employees as it enables them to contribute more meaningfully.
Various online platforms have emerged in recent years to help companies develop effective employee volunteering programmes. Most notably, Do-it.org - the UK’s leading digital volunteering service - offers easy ways for business to get involved in the community by donating staff time and skills where it is most needed.
This intersection of volunteering and technology also creates opportunities to develop new forms of corporate philanthropy. For instance, Do-it.org is partnering with Vivi to create unique employee microvolunteering opportunities. Their aim is to increase participation by making it convenient for employees to give back and simple for their employers to measure the financial contribution of the time invested.
Vivi enables people to raise money for causes they care about by completing online surveys. Employees will be able to register with Vivi from the Do-it.org platform and contribute their time in bite-sized chunks by sharing their opinions on their mobile phones or PCs. A typical Vivi survey will raise between 50p and £2 for a charity. Therefore, if employers mobilise even a small proportion of their workforce to participate on an occasional basis, they’ll generate significant sums for their chosen causes each year.
Equally importantly, this sort of microvolunteering initiative helps to create a year-round philanthropic culture, enabling companies to address perceptions that their community involvement is merely an occasional corporate add-on.