Signature Volunteer Programs: Two Decisive Questions To Ask Before You Start

May 11, 2022 9:00 AM ET

On the road to starting a Signature Volunteer Program? It may be tempting to choose a program by first asking employees what they want. Instinct says, “Shouldn’t employees tell us what our Signature Program should be about? It’s their program, isn’t it?” Sure! But first, ask, “Why do we want a Signature Program in the first place? What’s our objective?” Your next question will be, “What type of Signature Program fits my objective?” Once you have both of those questions answered, you’ll be better equipped to appeal to employee preferences in a way that aligns with your objective – rather than backtracking later.

Remember, Signature Programs have an objective over and above those of other business-aligned, skills-based, or employee-choice volunteer programs. It’s “signature” because, like a name signed at the end of a document, it’s an identifier. From a brand perspective, it says, “This is who we are.”

Try using these questions to find your way to your objective: (1) What is the one thing our company or organization wants to be known for?; (2) What story do we want to tell in 3-5 years about our community impact?; (3) What matters enough to us that failure to achieve it would shut the program down? (This one is my favorite!); (4) When asked, “What does your company care about?”, what answer would we be proud to give? A Signature Program can be aligned with a cause (like Abbott’s Future Well Kids), a partner (like Stryker’s partnership with a Operation Smile), or a concept (like Nike’s Made to Play). Each of these programs indicate what Abbott, Stryker, and Nike, respectively, want to be known for.

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