It’s springtime, pandemic restrictions are easing, and, chances are, your team is itching for new and meaningful ways to connect. You may have already tried a bunch of different things, but have you considered group volunteering? Volunteering as a group is one of the most impactful ways to inspire unity within a team while giving back to the community!
But don’t just take our word for it. Although volunteerism is ultimately a charitable act, studies show that companies and individuals can also benefit from it enormously. So if you’re looking to launch a team volunteer initiative or are simply exploring corporate volunteer opportunities, read on to learn the benefits of and brainstorm great ideas for your corporate volunteering!
In this article:
- Why corporate volunteering is important?
- The benefits of corporate volunteering
- 16 corporate volunteer opportunities!
Some volunteering basics to keep in mind
Before we dive into some juicy statistics, here are a few general best practices to keep in mind as you explore various company volunteering Ideas for your team:
- Your corporate group volunteer initiatives should always align with your company goals, values, and capacity. This will help ensure employees, managers, and other team members are on board, allowing things to go much more smoothly.
- Be sure to assess your community’s needs so that your team can target its volunteering initiatives effectively and fuel maximum impact. Doing so will feel the most rewarding for your team and positively affect your company’s reputation and community standing.
- Meaningful and enjoyable volunteering will differ for each employee based on their personalities, talents, beliefs and motivations. Do your best to keep this in mind as you plan your corporate group volunteerism.
- With that said, consider encouraging (but never forcing) your employees to sometimes step out of their comfort zones and volunteer in areas that they don’t naturally feel comfortable with so that they can explore other skills and ideas.
- Consider giving time off to your employees for their volunteer activities. A 2021 Business News Daily article states that 70% of employees surveyed said they didn’t volunteer as much as they would like, with two-thirds citing lack of time to volunteer during the day as the main reason.
What do the stats tell us about the importance of volunteering in society?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24.9% of people aged 16 and older from all backgrounds volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015 (the most recent data available). Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada, 79% of Canadians aged 15 years and older volunteered their time to improve the safety, education, and overall well-being of the Canadian population in 2018.
These statistics show that volunteering is a significant activity for many individuals and organizations in North American society. A 2020 Harvard Business Review article described the importance of corporate volunteers like this: “For some nonprofits, access to your [employee] talent and their skills can be just as – or more important – than dollars.”
With that in mind, let’s look at some potential benefits of exploring corporate volunteer opportunities.
6 eye-popping benefits of corporate volunteering
It turns out that giving back to the community isn’t just good for broader society; it’s also incredibly advantageous for business!
Here are ten more thought-provoking statistics that demonstrate the benefits of corporate volunteering:
- Boosts Employee Engagement, Morale and Loyalty
A 2017 Deloitte volunteerism survey in the US showed that 70% of those surveyed felt that volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours, while 74% believed that volunteerism provides a sense of purpose. What happens when employees are happier and more fulfilled? A 2021 Gallup workplace poll found that companies with high employee engagement had 18 – 43% lower employee turnover and 81% lower absenteeism.
- Improves Employee Health and Wellness
While doing positive for others can make people feel good, the benefits run much deeper than that. According to Mayo Clinic, volunteering improves physical health and mental wellness. Also, a Salesforce study indicated that 76% of employees feel healthier, while 94% enjoy a better mood after volunteering.
- Builds Team Relationships
When employees spend time together doing meaningful activities away from their regular employment environment, they get to know each other in different and more personal ways. Volunteer Canada shared that 80% of employer-supported volunteers believe that group volunteering strengthens their relationships with colleagues.
- Contributes to a Positive Company Image
According to a 2020 article by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 78% of the 7000 respondents of a multi-national survey responded favorably to companies with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. And this Canada-specific 2019 survey revealed that 33% of respondents claimed to always or (or at least regularly) consider a company’s CSR before making a purchase.
So while volunteering should have mainly benevolent intentions, there’s no denying that doing so is a seriously effective brand reputation move. But be warned – people can often sniff out the difference between genuine and performative philanthropy!
- Attracts New Talent
Corporate volunteering doesn’t just improve public perception; it can also reel in fresh and enthusiastic talent! According to The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, Millennials and Gen Z want to work for companies that prioritize creating positive social impact. Another report by PWC stated that 65% of people worldwide want to work for an organization with a powerful social conscience!
- Improves Employee Skills
There’s more than one way to build a skilled workforce. In fact, one of the best ways is to think outside of the box by providing unique opportunities. A 2016 Deloitte impact survey found that 92% of respondents agreed that volunteering improves employees’ broader professional skill sets. The same percentage agreed that volunteering is an effective way to enhance leadership skills.
These are just a few of the many positive impacts group volunteering could have on your organization! And yet, a Deloitte survey in 2017 found that only 38% of working Americans said that their employers provide access to company-sponsored team volunteer opportunities.
If you want to start reaping the rewards of corporate volunteering, read these ideas!
16 volunteering ideas for groups
Now, let’s walk through sixteen corporate volunteering opportunities that might resonate with your team. Note that this is not an exhaustive list; for more inspiration (or help from Thriver providers with organizing group volunteering activities), check out the volunteering corner on the Thriver marketplace!
- Serve at a Soup Kitchen
There are likely many people in your community whose only regular meals come from soup kitchens. Unfortunately, these places usually operate on minimal budgets and often rely on volunteers to stay operational. So to start your volunteering activities, keep things simple. Consider finding a local soup kitchen that your company can support by lending a few extra pairs of hands!
- Assemble and Deliver Care Packages
Care packages are one of the best ways to make a personalized difference to groups or individuals. Residents of care homes and children’s hospitals, veterans, low-income families, shelters, homeless people, and seniors who live alone are all examples of people who might appreciate someone reaching out to them in that way.
Items to include in your care packages could include essential items like food, clothing, hygiene products, back-to-school supplies, or fun things like games and treats. Your team could champion their own program or partner with an existing organization that needs help with assembling care packages.
- Staff Charitable Events
Your city probably hosts large charity events like marathons, car shows, and festivals from time to time. These shindigs have no shortage of volunteering needs. Such large events may require set-up, take-down, food service, crowd control and other help. The best thing about charitable events is that they are often recurring, so they can provide a steady flow of company volunteering opportunities!
- Perform for an Audience
Do you have any artistically-inclined team members? You never know till you ask! Consider assembling a group of volunteers to bring joy and laughter to people who have limited ability to go out and find their own fun. Performances could involve singing, acting out skits, stand-up comedy, dancing, etc.
Your team can reach out to various organizations and host shows at community recreation centers, elder care homes, children’s hospitals, homeless shelters, youth centres, and rehabilitation centers – the list is endless!
- Create a Public Art Piece
Another creative group volunteering idea for your team could involve taking on a public space art project and creating something beautiful for your community to enjoy. Your team could paint a mural, build a statue, or collect trash and create something unique from random recycled materials.
Before getting started, check with your local authorities or an organization to find the most impactful opportunities and make sure your team goes about this according to proper protocol. Also, keep in mind that this challenge requires a good amount of commitment and materials to plan and execute; you may even benefit from hiring artists and other professionals to create a smoother experience.
- Volunteer with Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a network of community-based nonprofit programs whose goal is to provide ongoing support for elderly people wanting to remain living in their own homes. However, these seniors often find it challenging to maintain their independence due to health and mobility issues.
Meals on Wheels helps by providing nutritious meals, friendly visits, and quick safety checks. Some local communities even offer additional services including pet care, home repairs, transportation, and more! Because Meals on Wheels is nationwide and even multinational, this volunteer opportunity could work for remote teams in multiple places. Go ahead and find one closest to home!
- Clean Up a Community Space
This is one of the easiest activities to plan and carry out! Your team can organize a neighborhood clean-up activity at a municipal park, playground, or public beach – the list of spaces that could use a little love and care goes on. However, since picking up trash isn’t exactly the most riveting experience, think of ways to make the activity more fun. For example, volunteers can compete for who picks up the most trash and even win a prize!
Littering is a never-ending problem, so this is another volunteering opportunity your team could regularly participate in.
- Organize a Fundraiser
What does every worthy cause have in common? They need steady funding to function! Your team can’t go wrong with helping raise and donate money to those in need. For example, your volunteers could fundraise for:
- People with disabilities, diseases and other health challenges
- Communities that need clean drinking water programs
- Small business initiatives for women in developing countries
- Programs that rescue and rehabilitate trafficking victims
- School building projects
- Disaster relief programs
- Crisis counselling
- Wounded veterans
Remember, it’s crucial to partner only with reputable nonprofits! So, make sure to do enough due diligence when choosing an organization to work with.
- Volunteer for Kids’ Sports
Many local schools and community sports clubs need volunteers to help with coaching, refereeing, supervising events and teams, mentorship, cheering on kids during events, etc. If some of your employees love sports and enjoy working with kids, consider helping out a local team for a season or two!
- Serve at a Shelter
According to a 2020 Shelter Capacity Report by the Canadian government, there are 418 emergency shelters with 16,009 permanent beds in Canada. These facilities include emergency homeless shelters, transitional housing, and domestic violence shelters. They serve adults and youth alike, depending on the specific shelter.
All that to say – there are plenty of shelters in your community that may need volunteer assistance! Reach out to some of them and find out where your team can help.
- Help Out at a Local Food Bank
Like most local non-profits, food banks usually operate on limited budgets to help vulnerable families and individuals. You can easily find a donation center near you by searching online. For instance, some of the largest food bank organizations in Canada are Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Food Banks BC, and Volunteer Toronto. In the US you can search for local food banks through the Feeding America database. These donation centers may need help with sorting, packing, quality checks, best-by checks, etc.
Volunteering at a food bank is an excellent opportunity for your team to work together and impact lives in a measurable way.
- Organize a Food or Clothing Drive
This activity is pretty straightforward: simply partner with a local organization to collect and distribute food, clothes or other supplies to those in need. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Identify a local nonprofit partner and assess their needs (for example are the clothes for kids? How many food parcels does the organization need?)
- Build your team
- Prepare a logistics plan
- Set your goals (example, timeline and target amount of donations)
- Promote your event while providing very specific information to potential donors
- Collect and deliver the donations to your nonprofit partner
- Thank the volunteers, donors, and everyone else who participated
- Volunteer at an Addiction Recovery Facility
This group volunteering activity involves helping nonprofits that serve individuals in recovery from mental health and other issues. Such facilities may need help with facilitating group counselling sessions, preparing and distributing meals, learning skills to help them win back their independence, etc; these are all ways your team can help!
- Share Your Skills and Expertise
Your team members undoubtedly have valuable skills that can improve the lives of people in your community directly or through pro bono services to nonprofits. These may include expertise in sales, customer service, litigation, marketing, financial planning, and business planning, just to name a few! Depending on your organization’s specialisms, your team could:
- Offer free tutoring, mentoring, or teaching to impart life-changing skills to people at community centres, addiction recovery facilities, halfway houses, immigrant service centers, etc.
- Host free workshops based on financial or business literacy to help underprivileged people start their own business ventures.
- Provide website-building, data backup, troubleshooting, and other IT services that simplify nonprofit operations.
Whatever your team’s skills are, volunteering will help your employees give back to their community while sharpening their superpowers!
- Plant a Community Garden
Got any green thumbs on your team? Or maybe your employees just want to enjoy an outdoor volunteering opportunity!
They could gather around and build an organic vegetable or a flower garden in a nearby neighborhood or park. The fun doesn’t stop there; your team can donate the vegetable garden produce to low-income families, shelters or soup kitchens. They could also fashion charming bouquets out of the flowers and give them to seniors or people in hospitals.
Regardless of the kind of garden your team decides to build, your community will benefit from the additional green space!
- Spread Some Love With Handmade Cards
Bring out the artists in your team by challenging them to create handmade cards to deliver to sick children, residents of long-term care facilities, or even inmates in prisons.
First, identify the appropriate target group in your community. Next, gather arts and craft materials and schedule a time to make the cards (consider organizing a paint night to spruce up everyone’s art skills first!). Lastly, organize for someone to deliver the cards to their intended recipients. You can arrange the delivery date around certain occasions, like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.
A card may not seem like much, but many people will feel extremely comforted and encouraged just knowing that someone thought of them.
Where to Find Non-Profit Organizations Near You?
If you need help finding a nonprofit near you, consider hopping on an online volunteer directory for your area! For example, Volunteer Centre Directory (Canada) and AmeriCorps (USA) have searchable databases where you can find team volunteer opportunities.
Group volunteering can give back to your community, boost employee morale and mental wellness, and positively impact your overall company culture and brand perception. Group volunteering is also good for the mental wellness of your employees. So, go ahead and run with one or more of the above company volunteer opportunities!