Paid time off for volunteering is a growing trend in employee perks. Nearly 1 in 4 companies in the U.S. now offer volunteer time off, or VTO. Employee volunteer programs (EVP) can help companies foster engagement and a sense of loyalty in their employees. Furthermore, employees develop teamwork and people skills while volunteering. It’s also an opportunity to bond with their coworkers outside of the office. And of course, volunteering gives back to a good cause.
If you’re interested in offering VTO to your employees, check out these three types of policies, as well as four guidelines for implementing your own program.
Types of Volunteer Time Off Policies
Volunteer Time Off (VTO) is paid time given to employees for doing volunteer work. The amount of time granted depends on the company, but it can range between four and 40 hours per year. Some companies, like the consulting firm Deloitte, offer unlimited hours of VTO. Many businesses have a list of nonprofits or causes employees choose from when using their VTO hours, while others allow employees to choose their own organization.
Corporate Volunteering, or company volunteering, includes volunteer projects a company does as a group. This type of volunteering allows employees to bond and build skills together outside of their daily responsibilities. In some cases, employees form their own “groups” and choose opportunities that work for them, while other businesses organize a time for all employees to give back to a charity or cause.
Employer-sponsored Volunteerism involves programs that partner a company with a nonprofit agency. The main goal is to bridge the gap between nonprofits and companies to get employees involved with volunteering. Company leaders might offer VTO, or simply share volunteer information with their employees so they can participate on their own time. Or, a company may match an employee’s volunteer hours with donations to the nonprofit in a Dollars for Doers program.
Implementing Your Own Employee Volunteer Program
One of the best things about building your own VTO program is that you can customize it to suit your business. Volunteer programs are quite flexible and can be crafted to work in any size company and within a range of budgets.
To build and implement your own program, consider the following four guidelines:
1. Offer an Amount of Paid Time that Fits Your Business
Four hours of VTO per year is the minimum that companies generally offer, but eight to 24 is the preferred average range. Forty hours per year is typically the maximum, but companies like Deloitte break that barrier with unlimited VTO offerings.
2. Choose a Qualifying Nonprofit Organization
For many companies, their employee volunteers must choose an organization that is registered as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt nonprofit. The IRS must classify it as a public charity and its mission should serve the community and should not have a political or religious primary purpose. However, your company may choose to offer VTO or volunteer programs that support local schools or communities that don’t operate as a nonprofit. That’s up to your business at the end of the day.
3. Decide How to Approve and Track Your VTO
An easy way to keep track of VTO is to treat it like paid time off, or PTO. Ask your employees to submit VTO requests to managers for approval. NobleHour can track volunteer hours and ensure all the information is up to date, plus it provides easy-to-read impact reports for any stakeholders.
4. Put Other Eligibility Requirements in Place
For many businesses, VTO isn’t offered to every employee. For your business, decide if part-time employees need the same eligibility requirements as full-time employees. Also, consider how long new employees must be working at your company in order to receive VTO. Set standards for the minimum and maximum VTO an employee can take. For example, a common standard is a two-hour minimum and two consecutive days for the maximum.
When you have an employee volunteer program that outlines the rules for your employees, you make it easy for them to participate. Communicating your EVP or VTO offerings clearly is one of the first steps in providing your employees with a fulfilling and meaningful volunteer experience.
Are you ready to create your own Employee Volunteer Program? Let us help you get started today!
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the community engagement solution for organizations across the nation. Our plug ‘n play software connects companies and individuals with nonprofits. Volunteer, measure the good you’re doing, and share it with others.
With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, we are dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Staff:
Director of Marketing
Allison is the Director of Marketing for TreeTop Commons, and its products; NobleHour and Collaboratory. A Portland native, Allison volunteers regularly for community nonprofits that support sustainability programs, and at her childrens’ school teaching art literacy.