Creating meaningful experiences for volunteers is essential for your business. The right experience can help you attract and retain talented, passionate employees. People who volunteer choose to support a cause they care about by donating their time. When a volunteer experience is not fulfilling, employees may feel their efforts don’t matter and they may not be as willing to engage with your company’s volunteer program in the future. That’s why, to provide meaningful volunteer experiences, it’s important to communicate clearly, share goals and progress, and improve on their experiences.
1. Clear Communication is Essential for Positive Experiences
Communicating clearly and consistently is one of the first steps in providing an employee volunteer with a positive experience. Let’s say a new employee is excited about supporting your company’s chosen cause. However, they’re not sure how they can help. Maybe your calendar of events is outdated, or the nonprofit’s contact information is hard to find. Or, when the volunteer attends an event, there are no directions about how to get started or what they’ll be doing. When communication is muddled, your volunteers become frustrated, making them less likely to engage in the future. Potential employees may not even consider joining your company in the first place if your VTO policy isn’t clear from the beginning.
To create clear communication and build employee engagement, make sure to:
- Keep information, like your company’s volunteering policies, up to date.
- Make sure the information is consistent across internal email communications, flyers in the break room, or on social media pages.
- Anticipate your volunteers’ questions and have that information readily available.
- Empower supervisors and managers by ensuring they know all the relevant information, too.
Remember that consistent communication ultimately benefits your business, especially when you’re investing in a Volunteer Time Off (VTO) or corporate volunteer program. When volunteers are given the information they need, they’re more likely to enjoy their experience and be willing to participate again in the future. This all results in happier employees, higher retention rates, and a better overall reputation in the community.
2. Share Goals and Track Progress To Inspire Volunteers
An employee joined your company and got involved in your chosen cause because it felt like a good fit. However, that connection only goes so far. That’s why a company must continue to inspire their employee volunteers with impactful events and charity efforts, as well as recognize their contributions to those initiatives.
To acknowledge their contributions and thank them for their work, collect simple data points:
- The number of employee volunteers who participated
- Amount of money raised, work done, or items collected for the nonprofit
- The number of volunteer hours given
Data goes beyond numbers, too. Gathering personal stories from both volunteers and nonprofits is an easy and thoughtful way to show your employees how they made an impact. When paired with the actual data, volunteers can see how their work has made a difference in two ways. This doesn’t require a large budget or hours of planning ahead. Ask volunteers at the event why they participated and how their experience makes them feel. Similarly, collect stories from people who benefited from the volunteer work done. Record their comments on a smartphone.
Don’t forget to share this information after a volunteer event. You can send a special internal email, post it on social media, create a collage to display in your break room or office, or dedicate a space for it on your website. Recognizing the work your employee volunteers do is a way to really enhance meaningful experiences. It also improves employee engagement keeping them loyal to your business and the causes it supports.
3. Continue to Improve on the Experiences
One of the best ways to show appreciation towards employee volunteers is to ask for feedback. Demonstrate that you care about their experiences and that you’re always working to improve them. How could an event run more smoothly next time? What’s something your business forgot to communicate? Was your email newsletter, social media page, or event team a helpful source of information?
Another way to help employees remember a great experience is to give your volunteers items to show gratitude. Free T-shirts, gift bags, or handwritten letters are budget-friendly ways to say thank you. If you’re hosting a thank you event for your employees, consider something more down-to-earth and fun rather than a fancy dinner party. A barbecue at a park or day of mini golf can feel more relaxed and personal. As a way to motivate employees, hand out prizes during your celebration for those who submitted volunteer hours.
4. Quality Over Quantity
Building and maintaining a successful volunteer program or VTO is hard work. However, the outcome of offering and creating a successful culture of employee engagement and meaningful volunteer experiences are worth it. It doesn’t matter how many volunteer hours your employees collect, or what the total dollar amount donated ends up being. At the end of the day, it’s about happy employees, productive businesses, and stronger support for causes that matter. When you give your volunteers the information they need, data to get inspired, and acknowledge their feedback, everyone benefits.
Do you want to start an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) or need help improving your existing Volunteer Time Off (VTO) initiative to create more meaningful volunteer experiences? NobleHour can help!
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 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.