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10 tips for employer-supported volunteering

Volunteering in the local community is an essential part of life for 58% of the population and many businesses are involved in the community for philanthropic reasons. But research also supports the view that having an employer-supported volunteering programme is good for business. Read on to find out more.

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Volunteering in the local community is an essential part of life for 58% of the population and many businesses are involved in the community for philanthropic reasons. But research also supports the view that having an employer-supported volunteering programme is good for business. Read on to find out more. Despite the growing pressure on resources which many small and medium-sized businesses face, an employer-supported volunteering programme can bring considerable benefits. Companies with employer supported volunteering programmes find that: employees are proud to work for them potential employees want to join them customers feel good about buying from them partners want to work with them investors want to invest in them local strategic partners welcome them to their area. Whether as a company you support existing volunteering or develop your own programme, employer-supported volunteering can bring benefits to the company, the employee and the community. It is a win-win situation. Think about the reasons you would like to get involved Do you want to give back to the community, promote your company and develop the skills of your staff at the same time? Deciding on your objectives is the first step in planning how to get started. Evaluate the skills your staff have to offer Think about all the different ways your staff can get involved, for example, they could provide some muscle to a community project; become school governors; offer IT assistance to your local charity; befriend an older person. Find out which members of staff already volunteer This will give you an insight into what is already going on – which you could support or develop. You might also find a willing company volunteering co-ordinator. Decide on budgets and time off Some volunteering might need a budget or it might need to take place during working hours. Think about the implications for your business before you make any promises. Write a volunteering policy Having a written policy – even one page – will ensure the company volunteering programme is taken seriously and that no-one abuses it. You will also need to consider insurance and the health and safety of your staff. Find out what the local community needs Contact your local Volunteer Centre or Council of Voluntary Service to find out about local volunteering opportunities. See www.volunteering.org.uk/finder or tap in your postcode to www.do-it.org.uk/wanttovolunteer/evsvolunteering to find out what is going on locally. Choose your charity partners Decide whether you will have a set number of charity partners or if you will let staff volunteer for any good cause. Some companies focus on a particular cause or adopt an organisation to volunteer with for a fixed period. Promote your programme Ensure staff know about it – hopefully the volunteer co-ordinator you have recruited will be your biggest asset. Don't forget to tell the local media – good news is the best news. Evaluate Activity is valued much more, by everyone, if it is measured. Ensure you have some basic metrics, such as hours volunteered, money raised, skills learned, before you start. Enjoy it! Volunteering is well known for giving participants a huge feel-good factor and research has shown it is the UK's second favourite pastime. Click here to download Volunteering England's Beginners guide to Employer supported volunteering for small and medium-sized companies.

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