When a business creates an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) or offers “volunteer time off” (VTO), large charities where they can offer their employees’ skills and time are probably the first to be considered. Larger nonprofits, especially national ones, have the public recognition that keeps them “top of mind” for anyone wondering when and where they can volunteer. Their overall presence makes them a natural first choice for businesses considering an employee volunteer partnership, organizing a fundraiser, or establishing any sort of charitable event.
Smaller nonprofits, however, don’t always have the recognition needed to catch the eye of businesses in the area, even small or medium-sized ones. Unfortunately, these small organizations are often the ones that could most benefit from an influx of volunteers and support from businesses. They have fewer advertising dollars and less clout in the area. However, they are often the “boots on the ground” that offer a variety of volunteer work requiring a variety of skills. That’s exactly why smaller nonprofits are the ideal partner for businesses offering VTO.
Why Should Businesses with VTO Work with Smaller Nonprofits?
Small-to-medium businesses, especially those that are just starting their VTO or EVP program, may struggle to connect with larger nonprofits. That’s because there is often an “excess” of volunteers in larger organizations (thanks to their marketing and national presence), while smaller nonprofits often struggle to find enough volunteers. Large nonprofits may also have more oversight or delay in onboarding, with a number of required processes, forms, or trainings.
Small nonprofits will be eager to connect with your business and get started with your employee volunteers right away. There’s also a lot to be said about supporting local charities, whether you’re a national company with branches in different cities or you’re a local mom-and-pop shop. Idealist Consulting is one Portland business that chooses to impact their community by supporting local charities with VTO. Even large companies like SalesForce connect with local charities as part of their massive VTO program.
How Can Businesses with VTO Find Local or Smaller Nonprofits?
If you’re a business owner creating VTO or an EVP for your employees, here are five tips to help you find charities/nonprofits to partner work with:
- Ask your employees. Your employees will likely have lots of information about local charities/nonprofits. Ask them about volunteer opportunities they’ve heard about or small charities they support in the area. Create a list and then ask the organizations if they want to connect with your employees.
- Search online. Simply search for “charities in [city]” or “[city] local nonprofits.” You’ll find a whole slew of local organizations who would be more than happy to connect with you.
- Use the IRS website. The IRS keeps track of tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., and you can search their database here. It’s also a great idea to check the organizations you want to partner with to make sure they are, in fact, a tax-exempt organization (charity).
- Connect with other businesses. Do you have a friend who is also a fellow business owner? Do you have networking events or connections in your industry? Don’t be afraid to ask around and see what others are doing to meet their employees’ VTO needs – or even how they’ve instituted their EVP/VTO offerings.
- Use NobleHour. NobleHour allows you to create an account and have “portal administrators” who can manage your employees, track their volunteer time, and create or share opportunities. Using NobleHour for VTO also lets you find local opportunities for organizations or causes that you may not have found in your search. These opportunities are available immediately and with organizations already on the platform, communication and tracking are effortless.
How Can Small Nonprofits Find Local Businesses Offering VTO?
Small nonprofits trying to tap into the VTO market, don’t need to rely on targeted ad campaigns. Instead, create a personal relationship with a business and the people who manage its VTO.
This can be pretty simple. Just search for “Businesses in [city] that offer volunteer time off.” While you’ll likely get results for job openings for these companies, you can still snag the contact information for their external affairs, human resource team, or front office. You can also search for the company name and their VTO program (ex: “Storey Kenworth VTO”) to get more information. You may even find contact information for the VTO manager.
When you’re ready to contact the business, prepare a brief script (email or phone) that includes:
- Who you are and your organization’s name
- Why you reached out (to ask if they offer VTO)
- Who you should talk to about connecting with employee volunteers
Of course, larger corporations are likely to have more processes in place to get “listed” as one of their partners. Some companies only allow VTO if it’s used for approved organizations. For smaller companies or businesses that don’t manage their employees’ volunteer time, you may get your foot in the door more easily.
Using NobleHour to list your opportunities is also a great way to connect with businesses and volunteers alike. For less structured EVPs, employees may be able to use their hours “at will,” making the interactive map and list of opportunities useful and timely. Businesses or employees just need to open the app and see which nonprofits have a need on a given day. They can then respond easily. Of course, the ability to track and approve hours is also a great way for you to engage with companies with more oversight in their employees’ volunteer time.
Making a Visible Impact
A growing body of employee satisfaction surveys and employee retention research shows that “social responsibility” weighs heavily on employees – specifically Millennials. Not only does offering volunteer time off encourage your employees to be engaged in their community, but it also makes them more likely to stay with your company.
For businesses that are just creating an EVP or VTO offering, it may seem simpler to find the most popular charity and connect with them. However, it can often be easier – and more impactful – to work with small, local nonprofits who really need your employees’ skills and time. Finding and connecting with nonprofits in your area is easier than you’d think, especially when you use tools like NobleHour to do it.
And, for small nonprofits wondering how to attract “big fish” businesses with VTO or EVPs, it all boils down to making yourself available. NobleHour’s opportunity function is a great way to let local companies know you have a need, without making them scour the internet or move schedules around to accommodate a large event. You can make your cause easy to find and engage with, which makes local businesses much more likely to work with your organization in the future.
When local businesses, employees, and nonprofits work together, it’s easier to make an impact. All that it takes is a little outreach to make a connection that can support both local causes and local businesses.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. With its robust online platform, NobleHour enhances community engagement with a variety of innovative and transformative tools for finding, tracking, and measuring volunteer initiatives. With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the NobleHour team is dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Special Contributor:
Latasha Doyle is a writer and long term care volunteer living outside of Denver, Colorado. When she’s not writing or volunteering, she enjoys crocheting, Netflix marathons, and planning her next trip.