Four tips for getting your workplace involved in community engagement


Four tips for getting your workplace involved in community engagement

Would you love to have the time to volunteer, but your day job leaves you little time to focus on anything else?  Perhaps you have always wanted to ‘do good’ but don’t really know where to start or how to get involved?  Believe it or not, many companies these days are seeing the benefits of having their employees tackle volunteer opportunities while technically still on the clock. Check out how you can help to spearhead a virtual volunteering program for your workplace and get brownie points in the process.

Let’s face it; everyone has a boss. Management needs to report to their boss higher up the ladder, so getting together a short proposal and pitching to your boss about why online volunteering work will be beneficial to your company’s bottom line will be instrumental to the success of your argument. Follow our tips on how to set things in motion so that you can get your workplace involved in community engagement.

Check out your competition

It might not be the most altruistic reason, but no company wants to be left behind when it comes to keeping up with the competition. A short analysis of your workplace’s competitors and how they engage with the community is essential. Do they offer volunteering opportunities for their employees?  If so, at which levels within the company?  What aspects of corporate social responsibility do they promote?  In the business world, this is called a competitor analysis; however, virtual volunteering can also be used as a unique selling point for your company.

Be quantitative and show your boss the value

Use statistics, case studies, and models that you can include in your argument. Marketability and brand awareness are always big selling points. If you can get genuine exposure for the online volunteering opportunities your company has created for its employees, this can be worth its weight in gold. Newspaper space is expensive, as is radio time or having blogs highlighting what you are doing. Find out the monetary value of these and include it within your report.

An authentic connection between your company’s ethos and that of the volunteer project will further cement your company in the minds of your clientele. For example, if you work at a landscaping company, then offering free lawn mowing services for any clients over the age of 80 has sincere meaning. Having a sign on these homes’ front lawn offers marketing value, as does getting the campaign included in your local newspaper. However, try not to be gimmicky as the public will generally see right through an insincere effort, and this can cause more damage than good.

Run the idea by a few of your friends and family, see if they can poke any holes in it, or develop it into something even better. Once you have decided on a few volunteering ideas that are important to you and tie in with your company’s products and ethos, put values to as many aspects as possible. Upper management will want to note if you can showcase the costs to the company (staff hours, fuel, utilities, etc.) vs. the benefits (free marketing, brand exposure).

Be qualitative and show your boss the value

It’s easier to showcase the quantitative data than the qualitative data, which is true for scientists and those in the business world. How someone feels can be hard to compare from one person to another. This is also the case for showing your boss how online volunteering work can benefit your employees’ spirit. Enabling employees to be outside of their typical 9-5 while also positively impacting their community can be incredibly rewarding and lead to employee retention. Any employer will know that it is cheapest to keep trained employees within the company.

Collaborate to get your colleagues on board

Perhaps this tip should have been first. There is no point in punting an idea to your boss about having people in your office get into online volunteering if they aren’t keen when it comes to being committed. Consider having a brainstorming session with some of your workmates about where or who they would help if they had the time. This can be kept rather vague and be defined to senior citizens, animals, or the environment. There are a number of virtual volunteering opportunities and organizations with which your company can collaborate. Draw inspiration and find how your company could link to the community you wish to serve. If your workmates are engaged and have collective pride in the anticipated program, then the uptake of a virtual volunteering program will be much more straightforward, with much of the battle already won.

Virtual volunteering can provide a wide array of benefits for companies and employees. These can range from increased skill sharing, collaboration and teamwork, employee retention, and job satisfaction. Never underestimate how valued an enthusiastic and determined employee will be within the workplace.

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