The 5 Biggest challenges of corporate volunteering – and how to solve them

 

In the past years, corporate volunteering has proven to be an excellent tool to increase work productivity and a way to create a better work environment. Businesses that have implemented volunteering programs have also seen a significant impact when it comes to recruiting and retaining their employees, not to mention an improvement in teamwork. 

But with new times come new challenges. A research done on Corporate Volunteering around the world a few years ago had already noticed a shift in some volunteering project trends. According to the document, many organizations pivot from aligning their corporate volunteering projects to their primary business models; nowadays, many institutions have been working towards projects to help employees acquire new skills, for example. However, the report also talks about the main challenge when it comes to social good and corporate volunteering: measuring the impact. Certainly, this is a dilemma that many HR professionals and community investment managers try to solve. But surely, this is not the only obstacle when it comes to putting in practice a volunteering program. Here are the top challenges corporate volunteering professionals face, and what you can do about it. 

 

Challenge 1: Matching the right volunteer to the perfect project

 

#1 – Matching the right volunteer to the perfect project

According to Andrea Gamson, CEO and Co-Founder of  _SocialStarters, an organization that aims to mobilize corporate workforces to share business skills with social entrepreneurs, many employees don’t use them all the volunteering hours their management grants them. “A topic that often comes up is not feeling like they’ve got the skills to do it,” explains Andrea. Undoubtedly, keeping track of what skills are needed for which project can help not only volunteer managers to recruit the right people, but it can also help employees feel confident to apply for those projects in which they can contribute. 

That is why Optimy’s volunteering solution provides tools for employees to search for the best-matching projects. In our platform, front-end users can easily filter missions by country, city, theme, and skill. Employees can also sort missions by the newest, oldest, as well as lowest available seats, highest available seats, and by favorite missions and registration deadline.

 

Challenge 2 - Measuring the corporate volunteering benefits to the community

 

#2 – Measuring the corporate volunteering benefits to the community

As mentioned previously, measuring the real impact of any social good project is a big challenge. After all, is it possible to know for sure the extension of the effects of projects on education, health, and wellness, for example? The first thing to keep in mind is that there are two different ways of measuring impact. The first one is the quantitative impact. To use this metric, you should ask yourself: How many employees are involved in the project? How many people are directly benefiting from the volunteering activity? What is the volunteering retention for this project? How many hours should be spent on this mission so the team can reach the main goal? 

The second way of measuring your volunteering projects’ impact is to ask yourself how “good” was the mission. An excellent way to do this is to ask volunteers for feedback via forms. The same can be done with communities that were positively impacted by the project and the nonprofit organizations involved in the process. 

 

Challenge 3 - Finding time for corporate volunteering

 

#3- Finding time for corporate volunteering

“I think people sometimes don’t do corporate volunteering projects because they are stressed out, doing several people’s jobs,” evaluates Andrea Gamson. It is true that many employees feel like they already have too much on their plate, and that no extra work is needed. Getting internal support is indeed vital for the success of the volunteering activities. Of course, this is an issue that the management team should keep in mind when creating a corporate volunteering project, but there are also ways around this challenge. One of the solutions is to promote volunteering projects during summer when businesses usually slow down naturally. 

Another type of volunteering that can be less time-demanding is online volunteering. This is a safe and flexible way to impact local communities positively. According to a survey done by Personnel Today in the UK, 54% of front-line community partners would like to have the remote help of volunteers to support vulnerable people in the coming months. Some of the activities that remote volunteers can get involved in are marketing, website development and management, fundraising, and social media. 

 

Challenge 4 - Choosing the right Nonprofit partners

 

#4- Choosing the right Nonprofit partners

Creating healthy and lasting partnerships is a real art. The nonprofit organizations are the ones in contact with the local community and also the ones that will be coordinating your employees on their volunteering activities. Thus, it is crucial to choose wisely your nonprofit partners. And for this to happen, you should get the right information from the institution before establishing a partnership. A great way to obtain such information is via forms. On this questionnaire, you can include questions about the time and resources needed for the project, the main goals of the activities, and reports from past projects. Another important step is to ask for the input of your own employees. This will allow you to understand what type of organizations and missions your team is more interested in, which can also increase participation among employees.  

 

Challenge 5 - Increasing engagement and participation

 

 #5- Increasing engagement and participation

On this note, increasing engagement and participation is a challenge itself, especially when it comes to management. A simple way to solve this problem is to recognize volunteers. Rewarding with gift cards and coupons those employees who get involved with corporate volunteering projects can go a long way. But it might not be enough at times. A better way to inspire your employees to be more participative on these projects is to encourage those who are already active in the program to share their stories. 

It is no news that storytelling is a powerful instrument. This simple but efficient tool can connect us to a deeper issue and unite people. That is why our volunteering product has a ‘Stories’ feature. This feature allows employees to publish articles about their experiences during their volunteering mission. They can even add images and video to bring readers as close as possible to the realities of a volunteering life. This simple act of sharing experiences will undoubtedly trigger the social goodness in other team members. 

Conclusively, putting in practice a corporate volunteering project has many different challenges. Still, Optimy can help you to effortlessly remove any walls your organization might have when giving back to society. We work hard and smart to build a volunteering management software that enables your employees to: 

  • Easily search for and apply for volunteering opportunities.
  • Match skills to volunteering missions.
  • Share efforts and engage with colleagues.
  • Rate volunteering opportunities.
  • Check their progress with our tracking feature. 

Do you want to know more about our volunteering platform? Get in touch with our friendly sales team, and we’ll start exploring how we can help your corporation.