Employee Volunteer Programs - New Research
28 August 2006 at 1:08 pm
More businesses and Not for Profit organisations are becoming partners by establishing employee volunteering programs but what are the real benefits each receives and what are the challenges?
New research commissioned by Philanthropy Australia examines corporate employee volunteering – highlighting the challenging journey to put Not for Profits and corporates on the same wave-length.
A key finding is that it’s important that both corporates and Not for Profits have a clear understanding of what they want, what they can offer and why they are forming relationships with each other.
Gina Anderson, Philanthropy Australia’s CEO says it is known that businesses and their partners are gaining a great deal of benefit from volunteering and we commissioned the research so that others who are thinking about volunteer programs can learn from their experience.
Anderson says there’s a growing level of sophistication among the partners as they creatively deal with the challenges of different cultures and different needs. This report contains key suggestions to help others run successful volunteering programs.
When asked what are the main challenge of corporate employee volunteering to their organisations, Not for Profits said:
– Finding volunteering opportunities and matching the needs of both organisations
– Continuously developing opportunities that will interest volunteers and benefit clients
– Articulating what the NFP needs and saying no to offers of help that are not needed or beneficial
– Volunteers not turning up on the day – resource costs involved and disappointment of recipients
– Managing expectations of community service managers and non-profit clients
– Negotiating who will pay for the costs involved in volunteering
– Calls from a corporate who want large numbers of employees to volunteer on the same specific day at short notice – unrealistic expectation
– Finding motivated volunteers who want to be there – quality not quantity
– Having enough time and resources to manage volunteers and ensure that projects run smoothly and are successful
– Deciding and predicting if the investment of time and effort in organising volunteering opportunities is worth the outcome i.e. where is this relationship heading
– Corporate volunteers making a commitment to a project and then not attending
– Corporates offering volunteers as an alternative to financial contributions is a backward step for the non-profit sector.
Corporates stated that the challenges of employee volunteering within Not for Profit organisations to their organisations include:
– Finding volunteering opportunities that match the needs of both organisations
– Continuously developing opportunities that are new and relevant that will interest employees and benefit NFPs
– Having enough time and resources to organise volunteering opportunities and ensuring that projects run smoothly and are successful
– Motivating employees at all levels to participate
– Driving a culture change to enable all levels of staff to embrace the concept and support it
– Managing expectations of employees of what types of activities are available and achievable within NFP organisations
– Managing the costs of volunteering with limited or no budgets
– OH&S and insurance issues
– Creating good policies and procedures to protect employees and ensure the success of the volunteer programs
Hayley Hext, a Masters of Community Management student at the University of Technology, Sydney questioned ten NFP organisations and ten corporations.
Hext says the research provides a snap shot of the realities of corporate volunteering from the perspective of those who manage the volunteering programs in both the company and in the Not for Profit.
She says employee volunteer programs should provide significant benefits to both partners that outweigh any challenges and that each must make a conscious effort to understand the organisation they are partnering and its needs because to be successful the partnership must be a good match.
The respondents answered questions on the role of volunteering in establishing and maintaining long-term partnerships, the need for written agreements and setting expectations, finance and resource issues, finding suitable volunteering opportunities and employee motivation.
The research report, “Improving Employee Volunteer Programs” is available on the Philanthropy Australia website www.philanthropy.org.au.