You’re the manager of a corporate volunteer and giving program brainstorming ideas as you map out activities for the year. Or you’re a CEO weighing the budget for your company’s social impact agenda. Or you’re a passionate employee volunteer looking for suggestions to ramp up your company’s program.
Whatever the scenario, if you’re involved with corporate volunteer opportunities, you need a steady flow of new ideas to keep your program fresh.
Too often, volunteer and giving programs are a one-size fits all proposition with a shortage of creativity and diversity, a surefire recipe for half-hearted engagement. If your company has a larger headcount than two, your employees care about a range of issues and will be engaged by a wide cross-section of campaigns while shrugging off others.
That’s why proper planning is such an essential part of successful volunteer and giving programs. If you’re thinking month to month, you’re never going to be able to capitalize on the wide array of campaign offerings at your disposal. Annual national and international campaigns offer their own built-in visibility, promotion and support that companies can easily plug into and leverage to engage their employees.
Take, for example, National Volunteer Week in April, an initiative of Points of Light, which focuses on inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.
If you choose to participate in this campaign, Points of Light has already done all the legwork for you, providing an adaptable online toolkit, full of helpful ideas and marketing strategies to support you during National Volunteer Week. Here you’ll find key messages, project ideas, volunteer leader resources and more for recognizing your volunteers throughout the week. With little effort you can take advantage of this moment of national attention to promote your company’s own volunteer commitment.
Or how about getting a jumpstart on 2017 with the MLK Day of Service, a nationally recognized holiday led by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." It’s all part of United We Serve, President Obama’s national call to service initiative, calling on Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems, moving us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community."
If your company chooses to engage in this campaign, you can encourage employees to get involved either through your volunteer platform (like Causecast’s) or by searching for volunteer opportunities by zipcode through the MLK Day of Service website.
Broadening your volunteer and giving program offerings by channeling national campaigns is a compelling way to diversify and expand upon your existing offerings. It’s also an easy way to make volunteering and giving a more consistent part of your corporate culture, extending opportunities beyond the causes you might already be focusing on. And it’s an excellent conduit to collaboration with other companies, industries and customers, allowing for wider connection around a cause that goes well beyond the confines of your company’s four walls.
In the process, your company’s participation in national campaigns shines a spotlight on your good work. The social media activities embedded in these kinds of campaigns means that your involvement receives national and sometimes international exposure that serves as a flattering marketing opportunity.
Volunteer and giving programs are a muscle that must be flexed constantly in order to stay strong. If you want high engagement and participation in your program, you need to keep your employees involved throughout the year. Plugging into annual campaigns is a powerful and creative way to keep your program continuously humming with excitement.
Planning ahead of time is essential. Need ideas? Check out our monthly campaign calendar for some inspiration: