Low participation rates for employee volunteer opportunities are a trouble spot facing many companies.
But not all.
Many companies seem to channel magic and create volunteer events that employees clamor to join. Companies like CSAA Insurance, which has an award-winning volunteer program that engaged 78 percent of its employees in service last year. And it’s not just participation rates that CSAA is nailing. Nearly 95 percent of CSAA volunteers have responded that they “agree or strongly agree” that the volunteer program improves employee engagement, 95 percent said that it helps build teamwork and 83 percent said that volunteering helped them work better with employees from other CSAA Insurance Group departments.
Or how about The Advisory Board Company, which has in recent years achieved 100% participation (!) in its volunteer program.
Most corporate volunteer program leaders would kill for these kinds of stats. So what’s the secret that companies like CSAA Insurance Group and The Advisory Board Company know?
Points of Light’s Corporate Service Council convened for a series of Learning Labs last year to assess new research and best practices around engaging employees in volunteering. What they shared and discovered about what doesn’t work is as instructive as the more successful approaches.
For example, there will generally be a portion of employees – about 25% – who just aren’t interested in volunteering and whose minds will not be changed on this point, no matter what you do. Knowing the standard limits of engagement will help you set realistic expectations for your program.
Additionally, some policies and practices are helpful to volunteer programs but, surprisingly, don’t on their own drive participation. This includes long-term relationships with nonprofit partners, which are important to creating impact but aren’t enough alone to spike participation rates.
So what are the effective measures that do drive volunteer participation? If you’re looking for insights into how to ratchet up employee enthusiasm for your own volunteer program, first consider the differences between the social-oriented volunteer and career-oriented volunteer, making sure there are plenty of opportunities available to both kinds of volunteers. We took a look at some true stories behind some businesses that have built a culture of giving back and increased volunteer engagement within their organization so that we could share their secrets.
Any company that wants to involve employees in its volunteer program needs to apply strategy and persistence to its efforts. High participation rates don’t just happen; they’re the product of a company’s commitment to a culture of giving back. If your true corporate volunteer story is to have a happy ending, consider how your company can bring employees into your fold of passionate volunteers by meeting them at their greatest point of likely engagement.
Read more: When Volunteers Become Voluntold