Employee Experience

9 steps to building a world-class employee volunteering program

Workers are five times more engaged when their employer offers an employee volunteering program. And 88% of consumers prefer brands that are socially and environmentally conscious.

Yet only 60% of companies offer employees paid time off to take part in volunteering programs. 

A further 21% of companies want to implement an employee volunteering program by 2024, but planning to do something, and actually doing it, are very different things. 

Even if all those companies did implement an employee volunteering program, that leaves a gap of almost one fifth.

So, if you’re planning to build a world-class employee volunteering program, what steps should you take?

Pick your purpose

It’s impossible to do everything we want to do or help every cause in the world. Which is why focusing on one or two initiatives will get you the most success.

Consider what ties into your greater business purpose or mission.

For example, if you run an animal-related business, could your employees volunteer at their local shelter? Or could you start an initiative with a chain of shelters to help them, perhaps offering dog-walking services?

If your focus is on sustainability, what volunteering opportunities could you provide your employees which relate to that?

Jot down a bunch of ideas, or better yet, ask your employees for some! This way, they’ll feel invested in the program from the start, which means they’re more likely to participate and help you reach your goals.

Get leadership buy-in

It’s a lot easier to engage employees in something if their managers are on board, too. 

Managers have to be comfortable with their employees taking time from their day jobs to help other people. If they’re not happy about it, employees won’t feel comfortable volunteering.

If managers do want their employees to join in, employees will feel supported doing so and be more likely to volunteer their time.

Partner with relevant organizations

If there’s a particular organization that’s relevant to your cause, why not partner with them? This creates a mutually beneficial relationship, helping you both further your goals.

You could also use this as a PR opportunity for both businesses, increasing your reach into new areas through joint social media content or press releases.

Consider cultural differences

Different cultures have different priorities and pursue them in different ways. So, if you have a global workforce, consider this before starting your employee volunteering program.

You could create different initiatives for each territory you operate in, with each area managed by a different person. That way, they’re aware of the cultural nuances in a way that someone located elsewhere may not be.

You could also collect team members’ opinions before you start an employee volunteering program to find out what matters to them and where they’d like to spend their volunteering time. If it’s a cause that resonates with them, people are far more likely to participate.

Decide on your KPIs

What do you hope to achieve through your employee volunteering program? How will you know if your scheme is successful?

Like any business initiative, you need to have goals or KPIs to help you monitor your program’s performance.

Some things you could track include:

  • How many employees take part
  • How much time they donate
  • How many organizations they serve
  • How much money they raise
  • The total value of volunteering time

You could also track bigger-picture things like:

  • Impact on employer brand
  • Employee retention rates
  • Employee engagement rates
  • Connections with other businesses/organizations/causes
  • Employee morale
  • Employee mental health

Choose a volunteer coordinator

Someone needs to oversee putting all this together, whether that’s in a part-time or full-time role.

If you’re a small organization or starting with a small scheme, having this as an additional part of someone’s job, much like organizing an ERG, may keep them engaged and invested in your business.

It doesn’t have to be someone from HR or marketing. What matters is that they’re invested in the cause and can pass their enthusiasm on to other people. Skills can be taught, enthusiasm can’t.

Collect feedback

It’s important to check in with your people periodically to find out what they do—or don’t—like about your employee volunteering program. 

Things change quickly. What worked a year ago may not work now. You won’t know unless you ask.

Market your efforts

If employees don’t know your scheme exists, nobody will sign up for it!

Some ways you could market your employee volunteering program:

  • Write about it in your employee newsletter
  • Include it in the onboarding sequence
  • Reach out to individuals who’ve been involved in similar initiatives before
  • Share the results of activities on internal and external social media
  • Give it a memorable name
  • Write a press release about its successes—this will build your employer brand for candidates and get employees to see the difference it makes
  • Follow up with employees who show interest in taking part but don’t

Recognize participants

How can you recognize or reward employees who take part? 

Could you offer them a gift card? 

Or post about the difference they’re making on social media? 

It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something to show that you appreciate the difference they’re making to their community.


An effective employee volunteering program shows the world you’re invested in doing good as well as making money. Demonstrating this can improve your employer brand, helping you attract more candidates with similar values.

And offering employees the chance to make a difference through volunteering will help with engagement and retention.

If you’re ready to drive real impact with an employee volunteering program, you need the right tools. Workrowd enables you to organize all your employee volunteering efforts in one place, and makes it easy to track results. Want to learn more? Visit us online or send us a note at

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