Crash course in: Getting your staff to volunteer

This year seems a good time to give something back and get employees to offer their services to the community. So how do you set about a volunteering programme?

by Alexander Garrett

Why do it? 'Having a strong community for your employees to live and work in matters, and of the 20,000 volunteers we work with each year, 95% think it is important that their company does this,' says Gennie Franklin, director of the employee volunteering campaign at Business in the Community (BITC). When times are hard and budgets are tight, it's a cheap way of generating some 'feel-good factor'.

Work out your objectives. 'Consider how your employee volunteering programme will help meet your organisation's business aims or strategic objectives,' says the National Centre for Volunteering's guide for employers. Examples of objectives might be helping personal development, boosting morale, transferring business skills, or improving your profile in the community.

Choose an activity. 'There's no one-size-fits-all solution to setting up volunteering,' says Franklin. 'The more choices you offer, the more people get involved.' Opportunities range from regular work like reading with schoolchildren to the 24-hour 'blitz', such as digging a garden. Look around your area to see who's in need. Alternatively, a broker such as BITC can help find partners for you - then you need to talk to your own people and the partner to identify beneficial activities.

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