How organisations can make employer supported volunteering work for them

We’ve heard about the benefits of employer supported volunteering (ESV); developing staff skills, satisfying your social responsibility and investing in the community (for more information visit knowhow) but how exactly do you start an ESV programme?

As Justin’s blog post on what we can expect for volunteering in 2016 explains, government will be introducing something around paid volunteering, but at this stage we’re not clear what that will be. What we do know at the moment is that the proposal will apply to all organisations with over 250 staff members whether they are in the public or private sector. So now is the time to prepare and either enhance your existing ESV programme or develop one, following good practice examples which already exist.

It is commonly acknowledged that there are three perspectives behind ESV programmes: what the organisation, what the community needs and what the employees like to do. That’s why when introducing an ESV programme it is important to find something that aligns with these three things.

Top three tips

So with this in mind my top three tips for finding the right volunteering opportunities are based on the work NCVO has done with Investing in Volunteers for Employers achievers.

Brand alignment

Think about your organisation’s mission, vision and values.

  • What are the key areas you want to enhance and promote?
  • Which area does this relate to the most? For instance if you’re an energy company perhaps you want to be seen as green and promoting energy efficiency.
  • Look at which volunteer involving organisations (VIOs) align with your organisation’s ideals and goals. Taking the above example a charity that has their values rooted in addressing climate change would achieve this objective.

By acknowledging these areas you’ll have a sound starting point for approaching VIOs with your offer.

Employee interest

The next hurdle is, do your employees have a vested interest in taking part in an ESV programme? Consider a staff survey asking them if they would be interested in a programme and if so which areas they’d be interested in volunteering in.

Assuming that your employees work for your organisation because they are passionate about your organisation’s field, they should express an interest in similar VIOs that align with your brand. However in some cases employees can suggest new and interesting areas that can benefit your organisation in different ways.

Increase employee engagement by electing ESV representatives from each department/team to investigate what their team members are already involved in, building a picture of existing volunteering and potentially offering more support to organisations that are important to your employees.

Community need

Lastly when looking at starting an ESV programme consider the community need. What impact does the VIO make on the community and how will your organisation make a big difference to the VIO?

It’s important to consider not only what you want to accomplish through your ESV programme but also what the VIO’s needs are and how they can be united, this is an important element to any successful ESV programme.

Talking with your VIOs is crucial, be honest about your organisation and community goals and what you want to achieve. And remember to ask the VIOs what their needs are, what they’d like their volunteers (your employees) to achieve.

Work out how many employee volunteers you have and how many they can take because this might result in you having to have multiple opportunities. This conversation might seem basic but it is such an important part of the programme if it’s going to be successful.

What next…

NCVO is running an introduction to ESV training on 18 March, find out more information and register. In addition ESV resources can be found on Knowhow.

Email to be added to our ESV bulletin.


The corporates are coming: five ways to make employer supported volunteering (ESV) work for your organisation

Want to know more about Employee Supported Volunteering (ESV)? Come to our Annual Conference workshop on 18 April 2016.

Find out more about NCVO Annual Conference 2016


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Patricia is NCVO’s Investing in Volunteers programme manager. She is responsible for managing both the Investing in Volunteers and Investing in Volunteers for Employers Quality Standards. Patricia has worked in the voluntary sector in volunteer management roles for over 10 years and is passionate about supporting volunteering.

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