Personal Information
Username: Avatar causecast
User: Ryan Scott
Homepage: http://www.causecast.com/blog/bid/161001/3-Fast-Fundraising-Idea
Public Email: info@causecast.org
Occupation: CEO, Causecast
Facebook: http://facebook.com/causecast
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ryan_scott
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/theryanscott
Personal URL: http://www.causecast.com/blog/bid/161001/3-Fast-Fundraising-Idea
Company URL: http://causecast.com/
Blog URL: http://causecast.com/blog
Interests: Employee engagement in corporate philanthropy and workplace giving
Latest Blog Entry: Increasing Participation in Your Volunteer Program

iStock 000037115406SmallA question that corporate philanthropy leaders and volunteer program managers ask me all the time is this: ?How can we increase and improve volunteer participation in our program??

Ensuring that your company has a high volunteer participation rate is one of the missions of my company, Causecast.  So we make it a priority to help our clients get to the promised land of high employee buy-in.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  That?s why we encourage our clients to make the first steps of volunteering as inviting as possible.  

What does that look like, exactly?  My friend Chris Jarvis, of Realized Worth, recommends a first stage of volunteering that is a highly social, accessible, low barrier to entry event or experience.  This is something that?s well organized, feels ?safe? (you can show up without needing anything and do it as a part of a group), and requires no long-term commitment.  

Above all else, spend time on the front-end explaining why your company is participating in this event and why it matters, and time on the back-end gathering feedback.  ?A lot of folks spend so much time making sure the event is well organized that they shortchange the why,? Jarvis notes.  ?We value ourselves on our productivity, so clearly outlining the why is essential.?

The brief and debrief (e.g., Was the event what you expected?  What did you get out of it?) is important for your employees and for your own information gathering.   One company I spoke with recently reflected on an event they had recently hosted to celebrate their two-year relationship with a nonprofit.  Their goal was to connect their employees to the social impact of their giving, thus increasing their engagement and involvement.  Their event is the culmination of a process where they take inventory of the skills-based assets their employees bring to the table and figure out where the best matches are to cause opportunities, above all making sure to connect their employees? passions to the organizations that can best leverage that passion.  Going through the process of intentional reflection helps you steer future events and your program overall in a direction that leads to high participation and impact.

But let?s also talk about the kinds of volunteer opportunities that are available to your employees. 

Make sure that any volunteer opportunities you offer spring from carefully nurtured relationships with nonprofits across the country.  And verify that your online platform is populated with all of the information needed to sign up for fresh volunteer opportunities, and that it?s easy for employees to search and secure the volunteer initiatives that best suit their interests.

While searchable opportunities are important, you should be aware that standard usage rate for this kind of warehoused data is poor - usually hovering around 7%.  Only group volunteering has high rates of participation, and of course one must schedule those sorts of events.  After all, no nonprofit is sitting around waiting for 50 people to show up.  As a company, you really don?t get much if any employee engagement benefit from employees volunteering on their own.  Engagement comes from engagement with other employees, not with a nonprofit alone, and certainly not with software. Your best bet is to work with a vendor that offers concierge-style service, with ongoing support that helps employees and companies build on their volunteer work and deepen and broaden it over time.  

Beyond that, I encourage our clients to ?deputize? their own employees to be internal cause advocates and motivate others to volunteer.  As with the rules of storytelling, which I discussed in a previous post, your employees are going to be the best advocates for getting involved.  When Kim from IT asks me to show up to an event because it is supporting a cause she has personal experience supporting, it?s going to be harder for me to say no or cancel at the last minute.  No one can argue with Kim; her energy, enthusiasm and excitement - what Jarvis refers to as ?the 3 Es? - are the keys to getting others on board.  ?That?s the secret of the social capital exchange,? notes Jarvis.  ?If I flake on a volunteer opportunity, I make a withdrawal from the social bank account that I have with this other person.?        

While most companies don?t utilize their employees in this way, we admire the companies that do.  For example, one corporate giant assigns ?community impact leads,? employees passionate about causes that serve as visionaries on the front line.  We find this to be excellent nourishment for volunteer programs and a perfect pairing with the kinds of tools that Causecast offers.

A client that works with both Causecast and Realized Worth, Canadian-based energy company Emera, offers another example of how to create a volunteer network of empowered employees. It starts with their Community Engagement Council, manned by employees who manage the governance strategy around the company?s volunteering program. The council interfaces with Community Engagement Team Leads who are out in the community acting as liaisons with signature nonprofits and other community organizations with whom employees may volunteer. Meanwhile, the company?s community leaders are tasked with overseeing quarterly events around these nonprofits and mobilizing engagement amongst Emera employees.

?We?re excited to have created a formal structure that organizes the engagement process around volunteering at Emera,? notes Marley MacDonald, Emera?s Communications Assistant. ?By developing a broad base of responsibility, we?ve removed the pressure from one person to manage the process of community engagement, we?ve created a trigger mechanism to ignite further engagement amongst our employees, and we?ve bolstered support to employees already involved with our volunteer program.?

Emera further increases volunteer participation by offering a Dollars for Doers program as well as Fundraising Matching. These funds can be used towards any charitable activity that employees are involved with, which works wonders for engagement. ?Most employees are surprised that they can donate their dollars for doers and matching funds towards their child?s soccer team to help purchase new jerseys, for example,? says MacDonald. ?Employees really appreciate this support.?

Support the Kims of your company - give them all of the resources that they need.  Regardless of whether Kim?s cause is the company?s main cause, get behind the Kims with programs like Dollars for Doers and with tools like robust volunteer management platforms so that she feels that her passions are honored and will be more likely to get behind the bigger initiatives of the company.   

In short, think less about quick hits for one-time volunteer opportunities and more about creating a culture of reinforcement that doubles down on your employees? passions and keeps the momentum of their initiative going.  Jarvis calls this a ?gardening effect,? where you continuously feed and water your existing efforts, checking in with your employees, nurturing what?s working and weeding out what isn?t.  

I call it sustainable volunteering.  It?s the antidote to sputtering efforts that take promising shape but die a quick death.  And it?s the key to igniting engagement and keeping the momentum going.

In short, keep these tips in mind to supercharge your volunteering program:

1. Create sustainable volunteer programs.  Understand the who, what and how - and make sure your employees do, too.  Brief, debrief and repeat as needed.

2. Focus on effective vs. efficient communication.  Good stories are your volunteer program?s best friend, so encourage a culture of shared volunteer experiences.

3. Deputize the Kims of your company.  Make sure your evangelists feel supported and empowered.

Also read:

Your Company is Socially Engaged, But Do Your Employees Even Know?

A Fallen Hero's Legacy Endures Through Corporate Philanthropy

The Secret to Losing Your CSR Job

              Download our Case Study
User Stats
Joined: 2012-05-27
Submitted Stories: 112
Published Stories: 54
Comments: 0
Votes: 125
Published Votes: 54
Karma Score: 10.00
Friends
JohnH Message
Becky Message
suzyQ Message
ArmadaIG Message
jnelson Message
mssux Message
TimJustus Message
d2kd3k Message
smallbiztrends Message
franpro Message
ZaneSafrit Message
sannwood Message
stillwagon428 Message
ianbrodie Message
rupalik Message
mona19 Message
smallbizbee Message
ducttape Message
SkipAnderson Message
cmypitch Message
raycollis Message
SellBetter Message
bmtrnavsky Message
q4sales Message
martinzwilling Message
ivanastaylor Message
kareanderson Message
jkennedy Message
shanegibson Message
nialldevitt Message
SalesBlogcast Message
Jed Message
jsternal Message
maplesummit Message
tuckerleroy Message
ShawnHessinger Message
CindyKing Message
WayneLiew Message
BambiGordon Message
m4bmarketing Message
TonyJohnston_CNi Message
HeatherStone Message
edragonu Message
ryantaft Message
dabrock Message
therisetothetop Message
iannarino Message
lelandmcfarland Message
HomeBusinessMedia Message
Kristi Message
bloggertone Message
billrice Message
yoni67 Message
martini28 Message
amabaie Message
saraib820 Message
mikemore Message
thursdayb Message
Athena Message
LeslieGilmour Message
lkpetrolino Message
GetApp Message
mywifequitherjob Message
pathenry123 Message
Sian Phillips Message
CorporateCoachG Message
hishaman Message
FrederiqueMurphy Message
JVRudnick Message
MMarquit Message
ivanpw Message
paulcastain Message
Ileane Message
tyoungbl Message
chrissb Message
kurbain Message
JackieP Message
Geoff Message
levelanalytics Message
Julie Weishaar Message
keepupweb Message
Small Business Tribe Message
bigmoneyweb Message
timjahn Message
denisefay Message
ivanwalsh Message
AngelBiz Message
JohnPaul Message
DanaKomar Message
prussakov Message
fionamceachran Message
bigcajunman Message
nicolebeckett Message
CanadianFinance Message
andreww Message
C_Consultingllc Message
Adam_Gottlieb Message
Deborah Shane Message
frankstrong Message
Allison Semancik Message
tormcgraw Message
richescorner Message
DiTesco Message
HollyHanna Message
newbizblogger Message
AggieBrad Message
CatarinasWorld Message
smpayton Message
Martina Iring Message
CoachNotesBlog Message
James John Message
Ruth Stone Message
Brankica Message
Authopublisher Message
TimoK Message
Wishpond Message
Jose Jimenez Message
resonancesocial Message
marshafriedman Message
bafife Message
ricoramiro Message
mybeak Message
Glen Craig Message
nickstamoulis Message
AnnemarieCross Message
cendrinemedia Message
BLASTanna Message
aweber Message
Sarah Ryan Message
GaryShouldis Message
expertbusiness Message
BizRock Message
FixCourse Message
cparmele Message
wdoutjah Message
ScottDudley Message
jordanfuture Message
reneeradia Message
CatherineLockey Message
moneymatters Message
Marketing_Mashup Message
Squawk Media Message
cherry93 Message
jamiesteinberg Message
UPmarketArt Message
stephanieward Message
mteter Message
smallbizwoman Message
FrankenBlogger Message
LouiseBJohnston Message
SmallBizDiamonds Message
leahrsinger Message
Dan Bobinski Message
janvee3 Message
AlbertHolly Message
Berndgeropp Message
ClassLink Message
zanedillon Message
holmantoy Message
hannakid Message
Robert Peters Message
Algernon00ps Message
tallpoppy100K Message
causecast Message
olivermarcus Message
Dave Hubbard Message
nana04848 Message
KelvinIsAwesome Message
TeaganA Message
thelostagency Message
smallbizelevator Message
AdhereAgent1 Message
mallaharidat Message
SparkHire Message
ExcellentPrez Message
joycearoda Message
tiroberts Message
andreacook Message
Pixel_pro Message
bOnline Message
elizabethjoss Message
Veronica Stenberg Message
CubeGuy Message
Heather_Stone Message
eugenefarber Message
copyjuice Message
iamdavidgray Message
rvarshneya Message
 



 

Three Key Voluntary Policies for Women

Today 4 in 10 women are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families,¹ and they do more than twice the amount …
Subscribe

Jenny Bhatt @jenny_bhatt Engineers New Business Opportunities

Though trained as a manufacturing engineer with a long and distinguished career in Corporate America, Jenny Bhatt found … More
Editor's Picks

Post your small business video to BizSugar today!
Have you tried BizSugar's new video posting feature?
Did you know you can now post video on BizSugar?
It's time to up your game with video on BizSugar!