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Employee Recognition

SINCE YOU ASKED: How to Elevate Your Employee Experience with the Power of Social Good

volunteer

Our “Since you asked” blog series – where we answer all the questions that came in during the webinar so you can have them all in one place.

Not sure how many more team trivia games you can stand to organize? Looking for new ways to bring your team together? We’ve got a fun one for you: Corporate Philanthropy! 

To celebrate National Volunteer Month, we recently did a webinar with our friends from WeHero about utilizing the power of social good to elevate the employee experience. After all, giving back to our communities is something that’s important to many people; over 1 billion people worldwide are volunteers.

So, how can corporate giving and volunteering help engage your team? 

The TLDR ⬇️

  • Employees are 5 times more engaged in companies with employee volunteer programs. 
  • Many studies have shown that volunteer programs boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve hiring and retention.
  • 64% of employees who volunteer said it improved work relationships
  • 55% of employees choose socially-conscious companies over profit-focused brands.
  • 61% of millennials care about a company’s commitment to the community when choosing a new job

You can check out the full webinar here: How to Elevate Your Employee Experience with the Power of Social Good

volunteer

Because it was such a jam-packed session, we didn’t have the opportunity to answer all the questions that came in. Ben and I thought that the questions were too good to remain undiscussed, so we decided to sit down and go through them together.

Check out these awesome Q&A questions: 

Q: How can we engage our team to sign up for corporate philanthropy events? How can we show them the value of events like these?

A: Great question! With all that’s constantly going on in an organization, employee engagement can definitely be a tough nut to crack. To answer the first part of your question, here are a few strategies to engage people to participate: 

  • Host volunteer events during key points of the year when employees are already excited about volunteering (eg. Giving Tuesday, Earth Day, etc). Align your charitable giving campaigns with different awareness months.
  • If you’re doing an event, make sure it’s no longer than an hour. This is much easier for employees to attend. 

We love this question about “showing value” to encourage people to participate. Corporate volunteering and charitable giving are activities that are really meaningful, and promoting their value can really help drive engagement. Here are some strategies:  

  • During the planning process, survey your employees to understand the causes they care about so that you can incorporate this into the event. 
  • Active communication and promotion are key to getting people excited about upcoming events and campaigns  
  • We (Bucketlist) have seen some smaller organizations highlight personal fundraisers that team members are doing to offer support and generate some engagement. It feels good to support someone you know!
  • To show the importance of participating in an event, it’s powerful to show leadership participation as well. This can come in the form of managers attending the volunteering events, or offering a donation matching campaign. 

Q: How do you convince those holding the purse strings of the importance of creating a corporate philanthropy initiative? 

A: From the volunteering side of things, running a pilot event is a great way to start. Testing the experience out and having a detailed impact report is really important for every event you do. For example, our (WeHero) reports show the number of volunteer hours, the value of that volunteer time, sustainable development goals that were supported, and the actual impact that was created. 

These reports are really critical, especially for pilot events, because it can show those who control the purse strings that “Hey, look! This is the result of this 1-hour event. We’ve measured all this data and this is the impact that was created. It shows that there was a return on investment, and I (Ben) always love to say it shows that return with impact

It’s also really beneficial to do surveys and get feedback from your employees. Asking questions related to the likelihood to stay at the company and being able to correlate it to philanthropic initiatives will show those with the purse strings that volunteering is a corporate initiative that can make a huge difference in solving the organization’s retention and engagement challenges.

Q: How do you narrow the focus of what philanthropic ventures to pursue for your organization?

A: Absolutely – It’s definitely important to narrow things down and pick a few causes that you’re dedicated to supporting. This helps to make sure that everybody is rolling in the same direction; a lot more impact for each of the causes can be created, and it’s a lot easier to track. I think there are two things here:

  • Serving your employees and understanding the causes that are really important to them
  • Understanding the causes that are going to align really well with the core values and mission of your company 

As an example, we (WeHero) are currently working with a 500-person company very focused on non-profits supporting music therapy. To decide on this focus, they surveyed the staff to understand what’s important to them. This sort of buy-in is what’s going to help get engagement for these volunteer events. It also aligned very nicely with their company’s brand, as they are a company that produces music. 

Q: How can distributed consulting firms that work on several government contracts get started with a plan for corporate philanthropy?

A: This is a great question. I (Ben) would recommend finding champions in each contract that work with the consulting firm. Your champions can carry your social impact initiatives and push for employees working on each contract to be engaged. You can use solutions like WeHero to engage a distributed workforce with volunteering. 

Another option is to look into planning charitable giving campaigns, which works well for teams/individuals that are distributed no matter where they’re based. 

Q: For international volunteer events, how far in advance is a good time to start? 

A: With international events, there are a few more complexities, especially if you’re trying to do it for a number of different international offices at the same time. The longer you can plan, the better. At WeHero, we plan for these events 30 days in advance at least. But for international events, we recommend at least 60 days to plan in order to make sure it’s successful. 

Of course, it depends on the type of volunteering and what the logistics will entail. For example, hands-on volunteering events will require a bit more coordination for materials that are needed, and we want to make sure that nothing is delayed and that everything is running on time. 

In our (Bucketlist) experience, the length of time needed for bringing an event to life really depends on the complexity of the event. If you’re using a platform like Bucketlist to launch a giving program, launching the campaign is immediate (just the push of a button, really). It’s the planning that can take longer. We’ve seen it range from a few weeks to a few months. The key is to make sure the planning doesn’t feel last minute or rushed – allow time for brainstorming, gather employee feedback, and involve the team in the process to ensure a successful outcome. 

Q: How are you measuring engagement? Eg. Engagement in volunteering or overall employee engagement?

A: As we discussed in a prior question, measuring engagement can be an important metric that really showcases the importance of these corporate philanthropy initiatives. Here are some ways to measure:

  • Using a CSR platform such as BrightFunds 
  • Track the number of volunteer hours and donor dollars 
  • Track the number of registrations for all your events
  • Number of people donating (regardless of donation amount) 
  • Number of people interacting with the campaign you’re running 

While collecting data about your team’s engagement is really important, it can also be really powerful to show your team the impact that their actions had. For example, if you had a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital, it would be great to show your team where the money ended up going. If you’re doing a food drive for a local organization, it would be super inspiring to report back and let your team know how many families you were able to feed together. 

Q: Next week, I will be launching our company’s first formal volunteer program! Do you have any tips for getting folks excited and creating momentum? I don’t have the budget to implement a volunteer platform so I am trying to get creative!

A: This is awesome! Hopefully, you picked up a few tips from the webinar session or this article so far, but a few additional thoughts here:

  • Many companies will launch their first few volunteer events and plan for them to be 3-4 hour events – or even full-day events! One thing that we recognize is that time is the most valuable resource for our employees, so a long event may be overwhelming at first. In order to get people excited, I (Ben) really encourage companies to try and limit the event to an hour. We found that to be the sweet spot; for a lot of employees, it’s easy for them to take an hour out of their day. We all tend to do a lot of our schedule blocks in an hour, so it just makes it easy and accessible for folks. 
  • The longer you have to promote and plan for this event the better. Planning a volunteer event should be like planning a birthday party or a conference: you want to give people a big heads up and get it into their calendars early on. Fun things like media assets, teaser videos, and images will help get people excited about it and show that the experience is really special. 
  • Being very clear and detailed in describing the impact that folks will be creating through this event will result in a much higher turnout. Everyone is trying to measure tasks and decisions in their day-to-day based on ROI and what they’re going to get out of it. Instead of saying “Hey, come join this volunteer event”, try giving details like, “Join us in building water filters that will give 12 people clean water for 10 years!” It’s a lot more challenging for people to say no. 
  • Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of snacks. Food is a great motivator. 

We wish you all the best with your launch and look forward to hearing all about how it went! 


We hope this helps to continue the awesome conversation that we all shared. Please let us know if:

  • This didn’t answer your question
  • You have a follow-up question that you’d like to hear our thoughts on
  • You have a thought that would supplement these answers 

We’re happy to make updates to this article – we want this to be a useful community resource!

Drop Rebecca a line at [email protected] 🙂

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