There’s no doubt that corporate volunteer and giving programs are now the centerpiece of many CSR programs. According to one survey by CECP, of 184 companies – including 63 of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500, 89% of companies had a formal domestic employee volunteer program and 94% of companies offered at least one matching gift program.

As these programs have become a staple of corporate cultures, employees expect them as a perk and insist that they go beyond cause window dressing. Properly executed, corporate volunteer programs have a direct impact on employee engagement, employee recruitment and employee retention, as well as true social impact.

So the “why” of employee volunteer and giving programs is well understood. The “how” is a different matter entirely. And if you’re the one who’s been tasked with figuring out how to manage your volunteer and giving program, you might have been faced with the question: “Why don’t we just build this ourselves?”

It’s a common decision point for many large enterprise clients, particularly those with broad and deep technology infrastructure, a team (or teams) of in-house coders, and matrixed organizational and reporting structures. A do-it-yourself effort around volunteering and giving can seem feasible and even fun.

But before you wade into a DIY effort, consider the wish list:

  • You want to manage donating, volunteering and reporting within a single platform
  • You need to be able to easily customize the platform to suit your look and needs
  • You need to be able to connect employees to volunteering opportunities
  • You’ll want to develop high quality relationships with the nonprofits you’re supporting to make sure your efforts are connecting to impact
  • Ideally, you’ll be able to offer extras like mobile giving and instant disaster relief campaigns
  • Your platform should be able to manage Dollars for Doers and matching gifts by the year, month or other time frame (for example, the holidays)
  • Your platform should be able to handle matching that is specific to certain nonprofits and campaigns
  • Volunteer hours should be automatically tracked and not require “logging” of hours
  • You’ll want automated reporting functionality

The list goes on, but keep in mind that only part of this effort involves technology. The rest involves service.

The tools you use to manage your employee volunteer and giving program need to support the most human of human endeavors. The service that accompanies these tools should be as living and breathing as the people you’re serving within and outside of your company.

Powerful tools, by themselves, won’t appreciably impact employee participation and engagement. A good program – supported by powerful tools – will. A vendor that’s truly invested in your program’s success will make it their mission to capture – or help you create from scratch – a cause engagement calendar that sets out a concrete course for the year, then follow that with ongoing support to ensure that your employees are fully engaged in your program and the platform.

If you choose to buy instead of build, your program vendor should function as a true partner in your program’s success. That means providing ongoing service for all of your needs – whether it’s full support in migrating your data to a new system, hands-on help in marketing cause campaigns to your employees so that wide participation is achieved, or customizing cause marketing solutions so that you can broadcast your employees’ good work to the public at large.

If you choose to build instead of buy, consider how this effort will affect your short and long-term business; how you’ll support this internal system once it’s built; and whether the software you’re evaluating is core to what you do.

Volunteer and giving programs don’t just manage themselves. Whether you use several types of software to handle functions like donation processing and volunteer sign-ups, turn to one holistic platform like Causecast’s that serves as an all-in-one solution; or try to create your own custom solution from scratch, the choice of whether you build or buy – and if you buy, who you partner with – will play an enormous role in the success of your efforts.

If you’re thinking through the pros and cons of a building or buying, download Causecast’s free Ebook to help walk you through this important decision.

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