Volunteers are the strongest contacts a company has within its community. By word of mouth or through logos emblazoned on their T-shirts, those donating their time and talents tell the community their business cares.
The best corporate volunteer efforts don’t just happen. They are the result of lengthy planning and coordination, often with an outside assist.
Katie Miller is one such assister. A veteran of the travel industry, she has incorporated her personal mission to “lead with love and make a positive impact in my community” into a professional role. She has managed events serving a few hundred to more than 10,000 people.
Miller talked with sales and marketing expert Aaron Kilby about corporate volunteering and how that benefits companies and communities alike.
It’s no secret that financial contributions are essential for nonprofit sustainability. Many nonprofit organizations are staffed entirely by volunteers.
“We often have volunteers from the corporate community,” Miller said. “Their support lets us serve our community efficiently while keeping a personal connection.”
One of the big plusses is that volunteering as a team can increase workplace productivity. Whatever a group of people can do together will build stronger connections among them, helping them more naturally work as a team on other projects.
“Productivity increases when employees work as a team toward a common goal,” Miller said. “As a result, everyone does their part to make sure not to let anyone down.”
Greeks on call
High schools and the Greek community on college campuses nationwide often require volunteer hours to teach social consciousness. This concept benefits a large or small business. Volunteers from campuses and businesses can form mutually beneficial relationships.
“Company pride and employee engagement are cultivated when philanthropic opportunities are provided,” Miller said. “What a great way to build a strong recruitment of younger employees.”
Corporate volunteering also can save time and money.
“So many companies pour resources into outside training and outings hoping to improve workplace morale and increase productivity,” Miller said. “Offering volunteer opportunities as a corporate team provides a low- or no-cost way to achieve the same results.”
Brand loyalty is found to be stronger when a company takes a stand on issues. Community involvement will reflect well on the brand and those participating.
“Volunteering and community involvement build that brand integrity,” Miller said. “That’s definitely a good thing for any company.
“When a company volunteers, its brand goes from just another business that wants the consumer’s money to a brand that stands out for their giving,” she said. “Their desire to be involved in the local community makes an impact on people’s lives.”
The ethical thing to do
Giving to others often results in a personal attitude that identifies with more ethical behavior. This attitude can impact a business.
“This is truly a win-win outcome,” Miller said. “Ethical behavior provokes ethical thinking. Ethical thinking leads to ethical people. Ethical people lead to ethical business practices.
“I often share with our volunteers that — while they are indeed giving to others — we as volunteers are often blessed in return,” she said. “It’s just so wonderful to pour into the lives of others.”
There is an assortment of possibilities for corporate volunteer opportunities.
“Contact local schools,” Miller said. “Ask how you can partner with them. The Chamber of Commerce might have a list of nonprofits in your community. Try websites such as Volunteer Match, United Way and local civic organizations. When in doubt, Google ‘Volunteer opportunities near me.’
“Fundraisers are always fun and bring awareness,” she said. “For instance, we host an auction and taste fest each spring.”