Volunteers: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them
Top tip! Short team projects appeal to corporate volunteers and their employers. Think cleaning up a park.
Don’t just make work for volunteers
OK, here’s a story of volunteer engagement gone wrong. I remember volunteering to clean up a park with my Girl Scouts troop in third grade. The park was clean. We got there, and we had nothing to do.
The Girl Scouts troop leader dumped over a trash can and made us pick it up. Then we got our trash cleanup badges.
Can you imagine a more boring, make-work job?
That’s what you don’t want to give your corporate volunteers. They can smell a make-work job a mile away.
David Warshaw, founder and principal of VISTAS Volunteer Management Solutions, has some words of wisdom before you begin to think about engaging new volunteers.
A good place to begin is to evaluate your capabilities and requirements against the potential ROI needs of the company program.
- What tasks/jobs do you have that are good for done-in-a-day team-building (e.g., facilities work, painting, garden planting)?
- Can you find tasks that will use the professional skills of employee volunteers?
- Do your client services offer opportunities for casual (rather than ongoing) volunteerism by groups of employees? (For example, helping host or chaperone a holiday party or taking over an entire shift cooking or serving meals.)
- How convenient can you make it? Do you have opportunities in the evening or on weekends? Or can you “bring the volunteering to the workplace”? (Maybe a project that a group of employees can do during lunch in the company cafeteria? This can make volunteering very convenient.)
Which companies are most likely to volunteer?
According to CECP’s Giving in Numbers, the most likely kinds of corporations to help you (in the U.S.) are information technology, financials, health care and the service industry.