Company volunteering has become something that goes without saying. Every company today, no matter big or small, understands the importance of volunteering. Apart from the obvious importance of giving back to the community, company volunteering also strengthens the company's brand, it attracts new employees, it engages existing employees and finally most users and costumers appreciate it and have come to expect it.
However, as more and more companies embrace the volunteering culture, a phenomena of "impact washing" is surfacing. This is when companies claim they are making a social impact, when in reality they are only taking superficial actions to make it seem as if they are socially responsible.
There are many ways a company can take action to make a real social impact, but when it comes to company volunteering, the the latest trend is "skills-based volunteering".
What is "Skills-Based Volunteering"?
Skills-based volunteering is when a person (or in this context an employee) uses their professional experience and expertise to help the community. Among the array of corporate responsibility programs, skills-based volunteerism is the most rapidly growing. This is largely because skills-based volunteering programs have been shown to increase employee engagement and retention, while also measurably enhancing the skills and talents that employees bring back to their desks. Theses programs are particularly popular with millennial employees.
To clarify the difference between traditional volunteering and skill-based volunteering, here are 2 examples:
Example of traditional company volunteering: A group of employees leaves the office to a nonprofit's location where they volunteer by painting, constructing, spending time with children etc. While this is usually fun for the employees, in most cases the employees aren't necessarily equipped with knowledge or skills for the task in hand and it doesn't have a lasting impact on the beneficiaries.
Example of skills-based volunteering: The group of employees stays in the office and in between their day-to-day tasks they also incorporate tasks to help a nonprofit. However, this time the tasks are relevant to their occupation or skillset; A website designer uses their designing skills and experience by helping a nonprofit design their website. A computer developer can help with creating the website and implementing the design, and a marketer helps by creating content and marketing the site. In skills based volunteering the nonprofit receives professional and meaningful help for their current needs, and the employees use their strengths to give meaningful help.
Traditional volunteering and partnerships between companies and nonprofits, provide many benefits, but they are largely transactional relationships that have little lasting effect. What makes skills-based volunteering different and important is that it borrows the expertise and resources from the corporate and lends it to the nonprofit sector in a way that strengthens it and offers sustainable solutions.
Skill-Based Volunteering Ideas
There are many ways in which employees can use their core skills to help nonprofit organizations. The idea is simple, lend the company's human power capabilities to the nonprofit so that the nonprofit can use it to grow and achieve its goals. Some skill based volunteering ideas for employees are:
Helping with the nonprofit's website
Solving technical issues
Mentoring and coaching nonprofit's employees and volunteers
Preparing marketing content & communications
Designing a brochure or report
Preparing grant proposals
Reviewing legal contracts
4 Reasons Why Skill-Based Volunteering is Perfect for Companies Today
It's not by coincidence that skills-based volunteering is trending now. It's a result of a data-driven, post-COVID, millennial-ruled world.
1. It's Online
Skill-based volunteering is done remotely. This is ideal for the post-COVID world. It reduces unnecessary face to face interactions and is great for hybrid working companies. With online volunteering, companies can involve all of their employees regardless of their physical location and still create cross-company engagement.
2. It's Flexible
Skill-based volunteering has a flexible nature. It can be done individually or in teams, it can be done on company time or on employee time, it can be small scale or large scale. This flexibility allows each employee to be responsible for their own volunteering experience and to its extent, which makes more employees want to be involved.
3. It's Measurable
One of things that make the skill-based volunteering experience perfect for companies in this era, is the ability to track, measure and analyze it. Because the volunteering is done online, companies that choose to manage their volunteering experience with a dedicated platform can get important indicators to understand their impact, and the employees' experience. This includes for example employees participant and engagement rates, amount of hours spent, number of projects initiated, results of projects and more.
4. It's Developing
When using their skills to volunteer, employees are not only putting their knowledge to use, but they are also practicing it and implementing it in different ways than they are used to, empowering them to shine in new ways.
Employees aren't only improving their professional skills but also their soft skills such as leadership and communication. Development of these skills is beneficial for employees obviously, but it is also beneficial for the company.
The Giving Way
When looking at their social engagement strategy, companies that want to make a real impact and not only talk about making an impact, have to make a shift in the way that they think about volunteering. From "giving days" to a "giving way". By involving their employees in skill based volunteering projects , companies increase employee engagement and retention, while also honing their skills to worthy causes and creating a significant impact.
Want to incorporate skill based volunteering into your company's employee experience agenda? Learn how you can do this with GivingWay here.