Volunteering can be one of the highest and lowest impact activities you can do for charity, all at the same time. It’s high-impact when managed properly and at times an absolute disaster when it’s not. Sadly, the latter has become far more common than the industry can afford and now more than ever we’re seeing charities charge top dollar for organisations to volunteer.
Employer-Supported Volunteering (ESV) is now the standard, not the differentiator. But has it come at the expense of the charities themselves – is the system broken? Do charities still value our time or is the shift towards a fee-for-time structure more about reducing the supply of willing corporate volunteers while guaranteeing a return on their time investment managing you?
Some charities are charging as much as $100-200 per head for corporate volunteers to give back. But while many are happy to do it, I wonder how many opportunities have been lost and question whether we’ve forgotten the true purpose of volunteering.
Why do we volunteer?
Giving is rarely if ever a 100% selfless act. For most, there’s a great sense of pride and purpose associated with giving and particularly when it comes to volunteering there’s a strong sense of gratitude as well as an opportunity for two or more people to connect from totally different walks of life.
Think about your last volunteering experience, how did it make you feel? Were you merely a customer of the charity or did you leave with a renewed perspective on your life? Was it transactional or transformational?
What if we employed a little creativity and eliminated the need to charge for these roles altogether? What would it take to create a volunteer experience that was a genuine win-win for all parties involved? Is it so unrealistic to expect a network of highly-skilled, digitally savvy, Information & Communication Technology professionals, for example, to provide value without charge?
At SmallChangeBigChange.org that’s exactly what we hope to achieve!
No matter which side of the (gold) coin (donation) you sit, like most industries the traditional landscape is changing and charities, corporates and their volunteers need to consider a change in their approach too.
The research has never been stronger; the benefits of volunteering is threefold – employers can increase their employee recruitment, engagement and retention while improving their reputation as a socially conscious organisation, employees can improve their mental health and wellbeing while developing new and relevant skills to advance their career trajectories and charities can leverage the skills and knowledge.
Accenture’s 2020 Vision for employer-supported volunteering confirms that 89% of volunteers reported an increase in their job satisfaction, 87% of volunteers reported greater pride in the company they work for. Even more impressively, 17% of volunteers said volunteering had helped them to develop stronger client relationships! You just have to ask Aussie Broadband and Commander (Vocus Group) who haven’t just encouraged their people to volunteer, but they’ve implemented on-bill donations for their customers too! In combination, employer-supported volunteers can share personal stories through an authentic interaction about where a customer’s on-bill donation is going. The customer is better educated on the employer’s commitment to the community and in turn, a trusted connection is made.
Project Helping a mental wellness organisation says that 96% of people say that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose and no guessing why with 76% of volunteers saying they developed core work skills to help with their career.
But let’s not forget the most important reason for volunteering, the charities themselves. Yes, we’re a charity too but we see our role more as an intermediary for bridging the gap between profit and purpose. More than 80% of charities have a genuine need for employee volunteers, but with 34% of them not having the capacity to manage more, we’re committed to leading a new trend in corporate volunteering.
There’s a growing demand for micro-volunteering in line with the digital skills gap that exists for the charity sector in particular. More than half of all charities have reported a lack of digital skills (Accenture, 2019) with a growing number neither understanding nor recognising the value of digital skills to their organisations.
Micro-volunteering breaks down the perceived barriers to introductory for both charities and volunteers, reducing risk and commitment while increasing convenience and ease for anyone to get involved. But it’s not about opening up the flood gates to anyone who wants to give a few hours here and a few hours there. To the contrary, it’s about attracted volumes of highly skilled people, screening them thoroughly and offering only the highest-impact volunteers.
With the advancements of technology, the potential for social impact has never been greater. So keep an eye out for something unique in this space, and in the meantime please let us know if you’d be interested in registering for a micro-volunteering opportunity in future.
If you’re a leader in your field and want to give your time and expertise to corporate volunteering, an employee and want to register for workplace giving or you’re a customer and want to switch to a Small Change Big Change provider, please give us a yell at firstname.lastname@example.org or register here.