The Power of Virtual Skills Based Volunteering

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volunteering
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employee-engagement
Joel Pollick
Founder & CEO
June 4, 2020

We know companies are thinking about virtual employee volunteering right now. How to replace what so many small-to-medium sized companies had as their entire giving program up until COVID-19 hit. Planned by your VP of People (probably off the sides of their desk), by your Culture or Cares Team, or by a Committee of Philanthropy Leads from each of your offices. Those live events were surely one of the most positive culture and employee engagement programs your company had, which is a big reason why we’ve heard from so many companies (both current and new partners) who are trying to identify safe, remote-friendly alternatives. Companies want to revive the magic and connection from those programs that COVID-19 shut down, and we’re here to help.

Two types of virtual employee volunteering

[1] Traditional service for individuals – This may look like 1:1 STEM tutoring, or ongoing mentoring for youth of all backgrounds. This type is a bit easier to identify, but lacks the vital team-building component that you greatly gained during your live events. The nonprofits – and there are many – offering these opportunities are amazing, and you should offer these too, but you should also look into option #2 for that team bonding we all still desperately need.

[2] Pro bono service for groups – These are skills-based projects, which are harder to execute but far more beneficial to both companies and charities during this critical time. The high-level steps include:

Step 1: Identify employees’ favorite causes and pro bono skill-sets. We even offer a Passion Assessment Lite to help make that step easier for companies!

Step 2: Research potential partners (one nonprofit or several, depending on your headcount and office count).

Step 3: Match the skill-sets your employees offer with the nonprofit(s) needs.

Step 4: Plan the program with the nonprofit(s).

Step 5: Recruit employee volunteers and connect them with the nonprofit(s).

Step 6: Break employees into project teams (best practice: 5 people per team).

Step 7: Manage the project together with the nonprofit over that period to ensure your employees have a great experience and the nonprofit gets the outcomes they need.

(PRO TIP: Ask employees to keep volunteer diaries along the way! This keeps them engaged and provides you one heck of a post-program marketing story!)

While this option is more work, it’s what we do. And we recommend it right now for two reasons:

  1. Skills based volunteering projects provide that connection and team-building component that live events offered.
  2. Nonprofits are hurting right now, and this gives them the business skills and support they need to pivot and adjust to continue their mission to stay alive through this critical time. The cliche of “charities would do better if they acted like real businesses” has never been more true, and nonprofits need your business thinking and expertise right now more than ever.

So, IF... your company is considering virtual employee volunteering (either to bring back the magic of past live volunteering, or as something new to positively engage remote, disconnected employees),

THEN

[a] DO IT, see it through, and keep evaluating;

[b] make it pro bono/skills-based to get the results you want and provide your eventual nonprofit partners the results they (critically) need;

[c] contact us to help — we’re experts in this and would love to help; and

[d] make it a mutually beneficial experience for both employees + nonprofits!

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