Corporate Volunteering: Turning Phil-entropy into Philanthropy

Recently, the Boston Globe ran an article lambasting corporate volunteering days as more trouble than they’re worth. The Globe received a lot of criticism for the article from corporations and nonprofits alike. However, while the Globe may have oversimplified the relationships between corporations and nonprofits as parasitic spectacles meant only to buff up the business’ appearance, they also brought up a major issue with corporate volunteerism.

Let’s face it, while we appreciate the gesture, it can be a real headache trying to find something for an office’s worth of untrained volunteers to do in one day. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can harness all of that well-meaning manpower and achieve great things. Here’s how:

Communicate

Communication is key to any relationship, and the relationship between you and your volunteers is no different. CEOs aren’t mind-readers, so clearly express what you need help with and how volunteers should prepare for the project. Be detailed with your communication and try to provide reminders and updates as the project work date gets closer.

Build Relationships

One of the biggest obstacles to effective corporate volunteer projects is time. Build up a relationship with the corporation that is interested in helping. Encourage them to send small groups of volunteers for a few hours at a time over the long term rather than the entire office for one day. This way, volunteers will build up experience and you can give them projects as they come up. You’ll prevent burn out on their part and save yourself time you would’ve spent micromanaging their every move.

Ask the Right Companies

A hundred hammers won’t fell a tree as quickly as one good axe. In the same way, one hundred accountants won’t help you manage your online presence as well as a couple of good social media consultants.

Ask businesses that specialize in the field with which you need help or ask the company to send some volunteers from a specific department. Chances are, the volunteers will have a lot more fun doing what they’re good at and you’ll get a lot more out of it.

What are ways you’ve involved corporations with your volunteer efforts?

  • Drew Campbell

    Great article! I can’t wait to implement! Keep up the good work!