Transcript of "10 steps to start employee volunteering"
10 STEPS TO START AN EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERING PROJECTThis section features a step-by-step guide on how to organise a volunteering project foremployees. There is no one fixed way to planning the perfect project. Every company isunique and different in the ways they manage the challenge of running a good EVP. Identify Corporate PrioritiesRead the corporate mission and know the corporate values well. Determine whether thecommunity project would assist in meeting the company’s objectives, or be aligned tothe organisation’s values. 1. Empower a Working CommitteeAssemble a working committee to take charge of the different tasks of the project.Designate a committee leader who will recruit other committee members. Havingrepresentatives from all departments will help better execute the project and recruitvolunteers from all parts of the organisation. It is also important to get inputs fromdifferent levels of the management.Some companies have a steering committee comprising both top and middlemanagement to set the direction for the EVP, coupled with a working committee to planand implement community projects. Others create the EVP by tapping on the humanresource or staff welfare committee. 2. Obtain Management SupportSeek out key management personnel who are top decision-makers and can championthe project. Top and middle management need to share the responsibility inimplementing the volunteering project and visibly show their support for the volunteeringefforts. Top management should be represented on the working committee and regular 1
reports should be sent to the management to update them and seek approval for theproject. 3. Find Out What Employees PreferCome up with a survey that will help you assess the state of the current workplace. Thesurvey should give you information on the number and profile of the employees,employees who are already active volunteers, what the employees’ interests and skillsare. For example, do they prefer working with the elderly or children? Search throughpast volunteer activities/projects to help determine the interests of your employees.Establish a databank of employees’ interests and skills. 4. Develop A Project StructureSet the objectives, and draft the volunteering guidelines; identify and allocate resources;and develop an ongoing volunteer recruitment strategy. Assess and set feasible targetsbased on your available resources - manpower, financial constraints, time commitmentand company support in terms of in-kind or cash sponsorship.No volunteering project can succeed without a budget to finance its activities. There arecosts involved, such as operational and logistical expenses, employee welfare(transport and refreshments), and costs for project evaluation and volunteer recognition.When organising a community project, particularly if it is for an outing or visit to placesof interest, the NPO would be expecting the company to pay for the expenses incurred,hence, resources should be allocated to this.Be creative. If you are planning for a fund-raising event, think of interesting ways toraise more money. For example, leverage on the NPO’s existing fund-raisingprogramme with new twists like weight-loss project in which a pre-determined donationamount is pledged for every kilogramme lost. Or have top management officers performcertain stunts (for example, wear their secondary school uniform to work) if a specificamount of funds is raised. 2
Outings are easily undertaken and can be within the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.Volunteers could accompany and assist seniors on grocery-shopping trips, or bringthem to the Lavender wholesale market, followed by a walk along Kallang River, downmemory lane. 5. Determine Community Needs and Finding a Partnering OrganisationFind out what are some of the immediate needs of the non-profit organisations. Thereare many needs out there in the community, many of which don’t receive publicity in thenews. Companies can narrow down the selection based on its corporateobjectives/values, or employees’ interests and skills.Apart from working with non-profit organisations, companies can also explore theneighbourhood in which they are work in to see how they can meet the needs in theircommunity.Once you have identified a particular need, contact the prospective NPO to make surethey can use your services. Agree upon the objectives, time, scope of the project, whatsupplies are needed, the number of volunteers required and other critical project-management activities. Visit the NPO to find out more about their cause and mission,making sure it fits your company’s objectives or volunteering interests before committingto the project. 6. Encourage Employees to VolunteerMany employees can be shy when it comes to volunteering, thinking they do not havethe skills or knowledge to volunteer. Hold meetings to explain the project; post up flyersand posters throughout your office; upload information on the company’s intranet; andemail to garner interests. Distribute a memo from top-level management to encourageemployees to participate and encourage top management to participate as well. Youcan also invite NVPC or the selected NPO to give an introductory talk to your 3
employees to learn more about volunteering, as well as understand the cause they willbe volunteering for.To help encourage employee participation, enlist volunteers for specific tasks; sendperiodic pre-event updates; and circulate names of volunteers who have signed up – soas to encourage fellow staff - using creative ways such as taped messages on computermonitors or MSN messages. One of the simplest ways is go right up to your colleaguesand simply ask them to volunteer.Be prepared that not 100% of the volunteers who sign up will turn up at the actualevent, and do not be too disappointed with the shortfall. Last-minute emergencies dooccur and some colleagues are workaholics who just cannot tear themselves from workafter all. Thus, always recruit approximately 20% more volunteers than what is needed. 7. Managing the Project and the VolunteersStart small. Small projects see results very quickly and are easier to address teethingproblems. Successful small projects can act as an impetus for bigger projects to followand they also give employees a good feeling when asked to volunteer for futureprojects.Before the volunteering work begins, invite your partnering NPO to give a pre-projectbriefing to your volunteers to allay fears and set the right expectations. This is especiallyimportant if your community project entails direct interaction with the beneficiaries andeven more so, if your beneficiaries belong to the vulnerable groups such as thedisabled, disadvantaged children (whose parents who are ex-offenders or suffering fromdrug abuse), or seniors living alone.Manage the expectations of the volunteers pertaining to the work required. They wouldneed to exercise care and maintain good conduct, respecting confidentiality and privacyissues. Gently remind them that they will be seen as the company’s ambassadors, thusthey should be professional and adhere to the given job description. Punctuality is 4
important and the success of the project will depend on them turning up at the activity atthe agreed time.For event-based activities, re-confirm the details with your partnering organisation.Make sure you have wet weather contingencies in place if you are planning for outdooractivities. Provide volunteers with clear instructions about event details. Ensure the risk-management procedures such as insurance, first-aid kits and code of conduct briefingsare all in place.To create a sense of identity, distribute T-shirts that are produced specially for employeevolunteers, or buttons for them to wear during the project. Plan to have a photographeraround to take pictures of your volunteers in action. 8. Recognise and Reward VolunteersPlan a celebratory event following the project as soon as possible. You can recognisevolunteers with certificates of appreciation (preferably signed by the CEO or their directsupervisors) or small tokens of appreciation. Highlight your volunteer activity in thecompany’s website, newsletter and even in the annual report. Another form ofrecognition is to allow the regular volunteers the opportunity to lead and initiate the nextvolunteering project. Not only does this allow them to gain ownership of the initiative, itunderscores that the company values their contribution enough to make them leaders toinspire colleagues.As an added gesture of appreciation, HSBC has its CEO present active volunteers withSwatch watches symbolising ‘time for your time’ during the thank you event hosted bythe CEO9. From a thank-you dinner event to small gestures of appreciation, everyonejust needs that encouraging pat on the back.9 5
Companies can submit photos and a write-up of their event to NVPC’s bi-monthlymagazine, SALT, for coverage. 9. Evaluate the Employee Volunteering ProjectAs part of your planning, think about how you would evaluate the success of yourvolunteering project and the ways to measure the indicators of success. Set KPIs totrack the measure of your success. It is important to know what to measure before youstart so you can collect the right information along the way (such as the number ofparticipants and the number of people who benefited from the project). The evaluationshould state if your objectives were met; weigh the actions against the results achieved;and highlight learning points from the experience.Evaluation is a powerful tool for accountability and improving future projects. Theprocess of collecting feedback is an important stage of evaluation as it impacts thequality and authenticity of the information collected. Qualitative feedback focusing onvolunteers’ experience can be done via interviews or debriefing, while quantitativefeedback on the project management can be done through surveys. Remember toinclude feedback from the NPO as part of your evaluation process as well. 6
1. Identify 2. Empower 3. Obtain corporate a working management priorities committee support Ready 6. Determine 4. Find out what 5. Develop a employees prefer 7. Encourage 8. ManagingRender employees to the project and volunteer the volunteers 9. Recognise 10. Evaluate theReflect and reward employee volunteering volunteers project Tip The employee volunteering project can be extrapolated to form the structure of an employee volunteering programme by formalising some of the steps as part of the company’s corporate policy. 7