Recent public health crises have changed the way employers conduct business and manage their employees. However, for-profit businesses aren’t the only ones struggling to adapt to rapid shifts in the world and workplace.

In the midst of COVID-19, many nonprofits have lost the bulk of their volunteer workforce, as well as the ability to conduct a variety of in-person fundraising activities. According to workplace philanthropy firm Bright Funds, volunteer hours fell by as much as 58% in 2020 as a result of pandemic-related closures—a significant drop that comes at a time when many nonprofits are seeing an increased demand for their services.

Fortunately, business leaders of all stripes are in a unique position to help.

The Benefits of Corporate Volunteer Programs

With many workers now operating within the digital workplace, organizing structured, in-person community service projects can be challenging. But business owners can still empower their employees and meet social responsibility goals for their organizations by developing a corporate volunteer program.

Traditional volunteer programs have been proven to provide positive benefits to employers, including:

  • Improvements in workplace culture and employee engagement. In a 2017 Deloitte study on volunteerism, 89% of respondents said they believed company-sponsored volunteer activities created a better working environment.
  • Increased leadership and career-building skills among employees. Deloitte’s 2016 study found 92% of human resource executives agreed that volunteer efforts bolster leadership skills among team members.
  • Enhanced employee mental health and well-being. Providing employees with purposeful volunteer opportunities has been shown to reduce stress, and it may even help reduce feelings of social isolation that often come with remote work. In addition, among older adults, volunteerism has been shown to reduce mortality risk by as much as 24%.

Shifting to Virtual Volunteerism

While the benefits of corporate volunteer programs are plentiful, it can be a challenge to pinpoint a single cause or nonprofit for employees to support—not to mention that getting together is a challenge when most or all team members are working from home. With virtual volunteer options, individual employees can find their own opportunities to make a difference in the areas they care about and in ways that align with their skill sets and interests.

The possibilities are endless: online volunteer positions are available in fields including public relations, research, fundraising, and data entry, just to name a few.

Where can employees find these virtual volunteerism opportunities? Some of the most popular sites for individuals to find volunteer work include:

Utilizing Philanthropy Management Platforms

Not only has technology helped fuel virtual volunteerism at the individual level, but it has also given rise to a new set of integrated online services and tools that can be used to support employees’ charity efforts. Implementing a philanthropy management platform is a no-maintenance way for companies to initiate giving campaigns and fund-matching programs, as well as rally around causes important to the organization and its employees by connecting team members with volunteer opportunities, including virtual ones.

These cloud-based platforms use social media, mobile applications, and data analytics to connect businesses, workers, and their customers to legitimate charitable organizations that fit employees’ skills and interests. In addition, these platforms can support grassroots volunteer and fundraising efforts by team members interested in supporting unique causes that are close to their hearts.

With platforms like these, both fundraising and volunteer activities are tracked and reported to program administrators. This helps owners and managers keep a log of the organization’s philanthropic efforts to target the causes and contributions most valued by employees.

Some popular philanthropy management platforms include:

A Last Word

When businesses support their employees in finding and engaging in virtual volunteerism, there are tangible benefits for both the company and the employee—not to mention the charitable organizations and the communities they work to support. Especially in times of crisis, volunteering online is a valuable, fulfilling way to reach out to those in need, engage employees, and enhance the brand image, all while team members are working from home.