Maddy Andrews | Client Services Manager, Cramer & Associates
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a top priority in the business world. Companies across the country are actively fostering a culture of volunteerism and giving back with their team, and employees are truly taking notice. Whether through PTO hours allocated towards planned volunteer activities, canned food drives or donation initiatives, or funds allocated to charitable donations, employees are eager to make a difference in their community and the world. The best way to cater to that desire is to create a meaningful, hands-on volunteer program that rallies and binds your team together.
Back in January, our team began to brainstorm initiatives for the year. Our discussions are typically full of enthusiasm, and this conversation was no exception—especially when volunteerism came up.
We all prioritize volunteering with our friends and family on weekday nights and weekends, but wondered why we hadn’t consistently volunteered together before. How could consistent volunteerism make our team stronger?
Every day, the missions of our nonprofit partners become our own. Giving back with our time, talent, and treasure is one of our highest priorities and greatest responsibilities; it’s the reason we all love what we do.
This little meeting on a Friday in January sparked lasting change. Our culture is stronger than ever, our passion for our jobs is at an all-time high, and we’ve had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful servant leaders in our community—all while helping individuals in need.
So, how do you create the best volunteer program for your company? Follow our five steps below to create and implement your team’s meaningful, memorable and motivational corporate volunteer program!
- To ensure progress and accountability, assign a team member to spearhead and organize your volunteer outings. With input from leaders and colleagues, this strategist will determine a schedule of activities and publicize it among employees. They will be responsible for bringing these great ideas to life and keeping the excitement strong throughout the process.
2. Find Your Nonprofit Partners in Impact
- Keeping your company’s culture, values, and interests in mind, engage in team conversations about what types of volunteerism would be timely, impactful, and enjoyable. Leverage team members’ talents and connections, and make sure they’re included in the planning process. For larger teams, e-surveys may be helpful to gain input, and different departments could even take turns picking activities throughout the year.
3. Make it Official (and Be Flexible!)
- Our team has learned the importance of blocking out time to volunteer on everyone’s calendars well in advance. This helps us prioritize our activities just like any meeting or engagement and ensures a consistent cadence. We decided to volunteer for half a day every month, and every team member received calendar invitations for the rest of the year to hold the days and times.
- Be flexible! For March, Team Cramer had planned an activity in honor of Women’s History Month, but after seeing the tragedies unfold in Ukraine, we knew we had to act fast. We partnered with amazing organizations and companies to organize a baby item supply drive. Our friends and families collected three car loads of baby items to help families and children so desperately in need.
4. Prepare, Immerse, and Bond
- Drum up enthusiasm for the day’s activities by sharing information about the organization and cause you will be serving. Make sure that everyone is outfitted with t-shirts or sweatshirts in your company colors. We proudly sport logo shirts in “Cramer orange” on our volunteer outings to show our unity and commitment.
- Minimize distractions and be present during your activities. Put phones on silent and refrain from checking email. Set an out of office reply that lets people know what you’re up to. Your commitment will inspire others!
- Service activities are also an opportunity to get to know your team better. During our four-hour volunteer experience at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio, I learned a lot; Michelle is an A-plus bed frame painter, Steven is task-oriented and exceptional at keeping us all on track, Dawn is super handy and a naturally gifted sander, Mike makes the best improv event photographer, and having never used a power drill before, I now have faith that Makenzie and I could build an Ikea dresser with ease! You never know what you’ll learn.
5. Celebrate your Experience
- Now that you’ve had a successful and meaningful volunteer opportunity, don’t forget to celebrate the organization and what your team was able to accomplish on social media! When Team Cramer volunteered with the Furniture Bank, we were so excited to build several children’s bed frames together—and some of us had never built a piece of furniture before! We were thrilled by the difference we made while working together. We got to see the heart of the organization and step out of our comfort zones. As soon as we left, we were eager to share the experience on social media, hoping to motivate more people to get involved. Getting there is one thing, but sharing the impact is where true change happens.