Jump-Start a Skills-Based Volunteer Program in 3 Easy Steps

Jun 30, 2016 8:30 AM ET

By Bree von Faith

Last month, I caught the buzz at the San Diego AMA’s Cause Conference, which focused on accelerating purpose within organizations and communities. There is nothing quite like spending a few days with a lot of marketers! Here is a sneak peek of the session I co-facilitated with Taproot Foundation. Missed the conference? Sign up now for our joint webinar on July 6th.

Imagine increasing employee engagement, helping employees develop their skills, and providing real community impact. Skills-based volunteering is one component of a successful employee volunteer program that you can jump-start in three easy steps: 1.) Look Within Your Company, 2.) Find Connections, and 3.) Learn & Scale.

1. Look Within Your Company

Identify Motivations

To start, begin to uncover the motivations behind your company’s current volunteer or corporate social responsibility program, as well as the motivations of those staff who support the program. Dig deeper and identify the motivations of specific employees or teams so you can better understand how to begin to launch a skills-based volunteer program. The key is to ask meaningful questions that can ignite conversation.

Recruit Potential Advocates and Volunteers

Think about the people who are already focused on volunteering and have the ability to influence others. Use the motivations you uncover to help in your recruitment. Identify key stakeholders internally that can advocate for moving this forward once you document some results. Be sure you understand the results that your key stakeholders are interested in so that you can increase your likelihood for success.

Align Functionality with Volunteerism

Try aligning job function with volunteering to test out skills-based volunteering. The second hardest volunteer role to fill for nonprofits is accounting-based, according to Hart Research Associates. You could engage those in your accounting or finance team with an aligned skills-based volunteer opportunity. Maybe a more junior staff member is motivated by professional development and this could be a way for them to improve or use their skills in new ways. The best part is that those opportunities already exist!

2. Find Connections

You don’t have to start from scratch! You can leverage existing nonprofit relationships from either the company-level or individual-level by simply asking nonprofits, “What do you need?” Keep in mind that every nonprofit has different capacity and different ways they engage volunteers.

Finding connections is also easy to do online! With tools like VolunteerMatch.org and LinkedIn Volunteer Marketplace, anyone can find a skills-based volunteer opportunity whether it’s local or virtual. To leverage this on a company-wide scale, Solutions by VolunteerMatch offers integrations so your entire company can search for skills-based opportunities and you can track their volunteer hours!

3. Learn & Scale

As you jump-start this component of your employee volunteer program, be sure to track and identify what worked and what didn’t. Share stories to encourage participation and use these (plus results) to help recruit or move key stakeholders. Take these learnings and build the next iteration.

Interested in hearing real-world examples about companies that are making this work?

Sign up now for our joint webinar with Taproot Foundation on July 6th.