5 tips to engage your team in volunteer work

5 tips to engage your team in volunteer work

By Sharon York, EA + Accounts to Compass Studio.

Contour animation Contour
Contour animation Contour

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King

In the purpose-led space, the majority of our workforce is made up of individuals who are mission driven, value meaningful motivation, kindness, generosity and giving back to their local community. 

In fact, studies show that volunteering in some form of charity work increases mental health, lowers blood pressure and elevates overall happiness at home and at work. It’s a win-win for employers and employees alike, really!

But in reality, we all know that engaging teams in volunteer programs can be hard and participation is usually quite low. So, how do you get the ball rolling and ensure that teams are empowered and ready to lock in their volunteer days?  

Here’s 5 tried-and-tested tips below that will help you engage your team in volunteer work. 

Spend some time discovering their passions

Find out what sets your teams’ souls on fire. What makes them want to stand up and be heard? What causes do they truly want to make a difference to? Generally speaking, people will be more interested in donating their time to a cause that is important to them.

Personally, I look for volunteer opportunities in the cause closest to my heart; Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Awareness. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a critical CHD when she was a newborn. I like to use my time to combine a combination of in-person volunteering such as helping out at CHD fundraiser walks, events at the local children’s hospital, with charities such as HeartKids who support cardiac families through life and what I would call ‘virtual’ volunteering which has always been a lot less structured and more so in the form of providing support to fellow cardiac families on the phone, messaging, interviewing for podcasts, designing fundraiser graphics and designing logos for merchandise. 

Take-out tip: At Compass, we pulled together a simple survey to get clear on what causes or organisations the team felt passionate about so we could support them on getting their volunteer days locked in. 

Your passion fuels your drive. 

Make it a team event

Volunteering as a team to make a difference in the charitable landscape helps to build morale, encourage laughter, problem solving skills and general team bonding. It is also a fantastic way to get to know your team better outside of a structured work environment. 

It opens up the opportunity to view your peers outside of their current ‘role’. For example, at work, your boss is your boss right? When you are all volunteering together these roles may organically move around. Someone may take on more of a leadership role whilst volunteering, or vice versa. Volunteering as a team lets you see your peers’ skill sets, personality and passion outside the work environment. 

Take-out tip: At Compass, we noticed a trend in the types of organisations that the team was passionate about, so we enquired on their behalf to a few common themes for the team volunteering experience. From there, we’ll vote which one we’d like to book in as a group. 

Enthusiasm is contagious. 

Consider offering paid volunteer day(s) as part of the employment agreement

It’s all about the juggle of life, right? Often employees can feel the stretch trying to fit in their regular paid job and volunteering to causes that are important to them. A great way to remove this stress of the juggle is to offer a paid volunteer day(s) per year as part of the employment agreement for your company. 

Take-out tip: At Compass, we give every full time and part time team member a fully paid day to commit to charity, separate from their annual leave owings each year. This is just a small way that we can ensure that we are leaning into our values and empowering the team to do the same. 

Reward their giving nature. 

Provide resources to connect your employees with charitable groups that appeal to them 

Often taking the first step is the hardest. Your team may want to volunteer but don’t know where to start. Help them out! 

  • Create a short survey to discover the causes important to them. 
  • Ask an employee that currently does volunteer work to give a short chat about their experience. Why is their chosen cause important to them and how did they get started? 
  • Offer logistical support in researching charities that are accepting volunteers, research appropriately located charities etc. 
  • Offer an organised team-wide volunteer day for a charity that has been mentioned across the board. Set the date, time and location; all the employee has to do is show up!

Keep it simple. 

Take-out tip: At Compass, I am responsible for the tasks above. It’s great to have a dedicated person to the project to oversee it from start to finish and ensure it all gets actioned. 

Leverage online platforms for volunteering

Just as COVID-19 changed the way we work, it can also change the way we volunteer. 

Online platforms such as vollie.com.au offer online volunteering for an online generation. 

Such platforms allow volunteers to provide meaningful volunteering of their skills anywhere in the world. 

Flexibility is key. 

Take-out tip: At Compass, we have a slack channel dedicated to sharing cool initiatives in market. Encourage your team to share volunteering opportunities they see with their peers as the more options they have, the more possible it is to action. 

Volunteering provides the opportunity for employees to learn new skills and develop their existing skills, discover their passions and contribute to making a difference in the world. It is an experience that can foster the belief that so many of our generation now have; the belief that we can leave the world a better place than we’ve found it.

Contour animation Contour
Contour animation Contour