How to Encourage Employees to Volunteer

How to Encourage Employees to Volunteer

So you’re the head of an employee engagement program, and you have to track your results in how many employees participated. Then you set up a program, try to drum up enthusiasm, and…


That can be a problem. After all, employee volunteer programs can help employees not only do good, but feel more connected to their employer. 

Simply put, the way your volunteer program connects—or fails to connect—can be a sign of your employee engagement in general. One PwC study found that “Employees most committed to their organizations put in 57 percent more effort on the job—and are 87 percent less likely to resign.” And Gallup saw that your ability to engage your employees could lead to 21% higher profitability.

If you want to create engagement, one of the best ways is to get employees connected through a volunteer program.

But again…those pesky crickets. How do you change minds? How do you boost employee engagement without making charitable work a requirement? How can you make employee volunteering sound like a good idea to everyone involved? How can you boost retention and make your volunteering program a success? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

Create Incentives for Your Employee Volunteer Program

First things first: no one wants volunteering to feel like a punishment. Volunteering is fun! Volunteering gives people the opportunity to take a break from work, to connect with others, and to try new things. If you’re in charge of corporate social responsibility, it’s simply your job to communicate that to people.

That just leaves one question. How? Here are some of our suggestions:

Provide paid time off for volunteering. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and it works: give employees direct incentives for volunteerism and you’ll likely see engagement rates go up. If your business is on a budget, it’s possible you may want to look to other solutions first. But if you need to generate engagement in a hurry, this can be a powerful incentive.

Set up a “Dollars for Doers” program. Beyond giving them time off to volunteer, many companies encourage volunteering at work by offering donation dollars for hours volunteered. For example, if someone on your team volunteers for 5 hours, and your program donates $10 per hour volunteered, you as a company would donate $50. You can set up your program where those dollars get donated directly to the nonprofit they volunteered with or you can gift that $50 as a charitable gift card to the employee to donate it to the organizations they choose.

Create an employee match program to encourage donations to the nonprofits they’re volunteering with. Not every volunteer event needs to be centered on what your employees do. Sometimes, it’s about what your employees give. Through Millie, for example, you can set up a platform for employer matching. This lets employees check out the current status of the volunteer opportunities, donate to the organizations you’re volunteering with as well as others, and match the donations they make. It’s a way for everyone, from human resources to marketing and sales, to see what kind of impact their donations may ultimately have on the local community.

Let employees have a say in the volunteer opportunities they choose. If you want to create engagement, it always helps to give people a sense of ownership in a new initiative. With Millie, for example, you can let your co-workers review potential volunteer opportunities through ready-curated lists. This not only encourages employee participation, but will also help people who want to take leadership roles in the new initiative.

Offer Different Types of Volunteer Options

Some people like to give in different ways. For one employee, positive impact only comes when they get their hands dirty and volunteer. For another employee, positive impact might come through a meaningful donation. 

If you want to engage as many employees as possible, you also have to meet them at their level. Think about offering different volunteer options so that as many people can get involved as possible.

Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Invite employees to participate in the selection of volunteer opportunities. This democratizes the process. Millie lets you filter out specific volunteer opportunities to help you avoid getting into any political hot topics, which means you can choose opportunities that engage the most employees. Do your employers tend to care about sustainability efforts? Do they want events that help with team-building? If you don’t involve them in the selection process, you’re simply hoping for the best. Don’t do that! Give employees a say, because they’ll tell you what engages them most.
  • Use a platform that handles multiple ways of giving. Employee donation matching? Creating custom volunteer events? Tracking hours? Measuring impact? You can do it all on the Millie platform, which means you’ll have an easy way to let employees manage the way they contribute.

Communicate Out to the Team

You can eliminate it by boosting your communications with your team. You can download the Millie app, for example, and encourage other people download it as well. You can integrate Slack channels to give people a place to congregate online and share their experiences virtually. Doing all of these things will help people feel more connected as they start their volunteer program.

Have an Award for Volunteers

You can create incentives on the front-end. But wouldn’t it be great to have a reward on the back end, too? You can use a volunteer award to help incentive all of those volunteer hours. Volunteer management starts when you can guide people both from the start of a volunteer campaign, and then reflect on what you did with an award. This won’t only boost employee morale and a sense of well-being from the company’s side, but will help anyone on social media who views the award to understand just how substantive your volunteer efforts are.

In short, don’t just ask to volunteer for the heck of it. Give people a reminder: that what they’re doing is a good thing, and it’s worth it to celebrate doing good things. 

Remember: volunteering should be a positive experience for your company. You can use Millie to help eliminate the risks many people associate with picking controversial donation programs. Instead, you can boost more employee engagement with a robust, communicative platform that involves employees at every step of the way.