A Volunteer Refresh: 8 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Corporate Volunteer Program
By Juliette Cheatham
Several new volunteer strategies are emerging as a means to more effectively utilize the
talents of participants in volunteer programs and magnify the effects of their
philanthropic efforts. In the spirit of this refreshing summer season, we offer you 8 ways
to help bring new energy to your current corporate volunteer programs and examples of
companies that are already finding immense success by incorporating them.
1. Team Volunteering
A great benefit to team volunteering is that it gives employees an opportunity to
volunteer in a more social environment. As the millennial generation in particular
gradually begins to permeate the business world, companies are being encouraged to find
ways that support their desire to work collaboratively. Team volunteering provides
exponentially increased value to non-profits because the more individuals involved, the
more they are able to accomplish.
Verizon Wireless has begun implementing this collaborative style of
volunteerism by matching teams of 10 or more volunteers up to $10,000.
2. Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV)
By focusing on personal and professional skills of the individual volunteer, skills-based
volunteering is able to provide more long-term value to the non-profit; up to 500%
greater than traditional volunteering. Additionally, skills-based volunteerism expands the
employee’s skill sets and provides for a greater sense of satisfaction by using their
personal expertise. For instance, a technology firm might utilize SBV by cleaning up a
non-profit’s donor database, or an accounting firm might do a non-profit’s taxes for free.
Deloitte offers 1,200 pro bono projects that specialize in their extensive knowledge about
consulting, tax, and advisory service.
3. Virtual Volunteering
In this age of rapidly growing technological advances, what could be more convenient
than volunteering that can be done via your computer? Virtual volunteering offers a
solution to those who don’t have the time to actually work on site at a non-profit. By
making volunteer opportunities accessible any time or any place, corporate volunteer
programs are able to reach an entirely new population of volunteers that have yet to be
Hewlett Packard’s HP Life program virtually trains students, entrepreneurs, and small
business owners from all over the world to help create stable jobs and prosperous
4. Community-based Volunteering
This style of volunteerism is a fun way to get involved not only with your local
community, but also with your family, friends, or your customer base. One of the largest
benefits is that this will extend the company’s volunteer impact beyond its own
employees to include the surrounding community. Also, volunteering locally helps
encourage the participation of those who need it most and who will directly benefit from
a community improvement.
Belk does a great job of focusing on assisting nonprofits local to their stores to help
improve the surrounding community in a more immediate and impactful way.
5. International Volunteering
Many large companies offer employees the opportunity to volunteer abroad. By
extending volunteerism internationally, the corporation has the opportunity to gain
insight about expanding into different global markets. Employees increase their
leadership and management skills as well as develop their own professional
abilities. Volunteering internationally allows the company to encompass a much more
diverse population of recipients and is able to generate global improvements more than
any of the other volunteer strategies.
The Grameen Foundation offers a program called Bankers without Boarders that’s not
just for bankers), which helps connect professionals with international volunteer
PepsiCo has created many international volunteer projects for its employees. Past
international volunteer opportunities have included groups of employees from around the
world meeting in Ghana to help improve access to safe water and promote eco-tourism.
6. Day of Volunteering
A day of volunteering within a company is a wonderful way to boost employee
engagement. Not only does volunteering build teamwork within departments, it also
builds leadership and utilizes the professional skills of those involved. Most volunteer
projects are long term and require months or even years of planning, but by creating a
day of volunteering people can come together to make a big impact in less than 24 hours.
Building a home with Habitat for Humanity, building a community garden, or picking up
trash at a local park are all great quick days of volunteering.
Good Done Great’s employees spent a fun day outside by volunteering with Keep
Charleston Beautiful. We were able to collect over 620 pounds of litter, 25 bags of trash,
and 5 tires from the surrounding marshlands.
7. Disaster-Based Volunteering
Disaster-based volunteering extends the impact of a traditional matching gifts disaster
relief program by supplying properly trained employees who can offer specialized
disaster relief assistance. Ready When the Time Comes is a program sponsored by the
American Red Cross that trains corporate employees to volunteer based upon their
rigorous standards. Appropriate disaster-based volunteer training prevents the challenges
of working with employees that might not be knowledgeable about how to apply their
specific skill to disaster relief.
Volunteers from Tyson Foods were able to provide more than 17,000 meals to victims
and relief workers that were affected by the destructive twin tornadoes in Pilger,
8. Volunteer Grant Programs
The Dollars for Doers programs incentivize volunteering by providing cash grants to non-
profits. An employee will volunteer for an organization of their choice and in return the
employer will send a charitable gift to the non-profit they volunteered for based upon the
number of hours the employee volunteered. This style of volunteerism allows the
employee to choose where they would like to volunteer based on what is important to
them. Because this style of giving is personalized, the individual employee engagement is
Microsoft offers a dollar-for-dollar match to nearly any school or organization the
employee wishes and limits each employee to a generous $15,000 matched donation per