VSNS 120x120

Voluntary Support North Surrey

Improving lives locally For the people of Surrey Heath, Spelthorne & Runnymede

Getting businesses on board: how to make the most of corporate volunteers

A recent report by charity Pilotlight found that UK workers want employers to actively support good causes through the option of employee volunteering. Four out of five employees believe that not only do businesses themselves benefit from employee volunteering but it also develops their work skills and knowledge.

An increasing number of businesses now offer employees volunteer days – typically one or two a year. These one-off volunteering options can be a great way for teams to spend some time out of the office, working together on a discrete project. At Voluntary Support North Surrey, we have lots of examples of corporate teams doing exactly this, and it is hugely beneficial to local voluntary organisations.

Employees and businesses are also looking at skill sharing. This can be through mentoring or coaching programmes with a local charity, or through employees using their business skills to benefit good causes through volunteering as trustees or delivering training.

So, as a charity, how do you set up an arrangement with a company so that you can benefit from the help of corporate volunteers? Here are some ideas:

Find the right fit

Think carefully about the type of business that might support your organisation. You’ll want to aim to build a relationship with them rather than a one-off arrangement. Might there be businesses related to your cause area or large companies interested in investing in their local communities? Contact your local CVS (Community and Voluntary Support) organisation or business guild to see if they can help. Or visit ResourceHub for tips on how to find local businesses that may want to support their local community. 

Identify and communicate your needs

Be clear about your needs to make sure the support is truly beneficial for you. Volunteering days can put a strain on small charities’ resources if they’re not planned properly, so communicate up front exactly where you could benefit from support. Could businesses offer opportunities outside of ad-hoc volunteering days? Do they provide any in-house coaching, mentoring or training programmes to their staff that could be opened up to your volunteers or staff?

Explain what you can offer a business

Businesses will be looking for charity partners that align with their CSR or community engagement programme, or strategic goals such as strengthening brand reputation or employee loyalty. Show them the difference your work is making to the community, share stories or outline your theory of change to help them get behind your work. Think too about what practical opportunities you could you offer a business. Many offer employee volunteering days during the year. Some will organise team away days that incorporate volunteering. Others will be happy to promote trustee and other volunteer positions to their staff.

Give back to businesses

Lastly, think about what’s in it for them. It’s important that the business gets something from their relationship with you. Say thank you for their support on social media. Share with them the difference their support has made – the changes it’s enabled or the impact it’s had on your service provision. Reporting on the impact of your volunteers is not only critical for your understanding, it’s important to the businesses supporting you too.

Voluntary Support North Surrey works with voluntary and community organisations, statutory agencies and the business community to promote voluntary work. They offer free services to local voluntary groups including finding suitable volunteers, funding advice, help with business planning, marketing, access to training and much more.

Find out how CAF’s Charity advisory team helped North East Young Dads and Lads develop a corporate engagement strategy.