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How to set up employer supported volunteering as a charity

Employer supported volunteering (ESV) has primarily been seen as private sector businesses setting up programmes to support their employees in volunteering for charity organisations. The arrangement is usually mutually beneficial for all parties: the employer, the employees who volunteer and the charity they volunteer for. The how-to guide on setting up an employer supported volunteering programme as an employer covers the key things any type of organisation should consider – this guide covers the additional points to consider as a charity organisation thinking of setting up an employer supported volunteering programme for your employees.


Identify your rationale

As a charity organisation, your objectives around setting up an employer supported volunteering programme for your staff may be different to those of a private sector business. Your objectives may not be centred around corporate social responsibility and are more likely to include:

  • Partnering with organisations that are working towards a similar mission.
  • Developing staff skills through experiential learning in their volunteering activities – contributing to the overall long term mission of your organisation.
  • Opportunities to volunteer where staff get to know others across your organisation (pertinent in large organisations and where staff work primarily with those in their team).
  • Linking with organisations that provide staff with contact and insight into different people and their needs.
  • Linking with opportunities that might challenge your organisation to better consider diversity and inclusion.

Determine what resources your organisation is willing to contribute

Many ESV opportunities, where volunteering is operating at scale, are coordinated by brokers and therefore attract a cost.  As a charity where every pound is spent to meet your mission, you will need to consider carefully what you are prepared to contribute and how best to navigate this area.


Understand how to engage and communicate with staff

  • Staff’s everyday work is involved in a charitable mission. How will this affect their engagement in ESV? How might the messaging need to be different?
  • Are there different cultures within your organisation? Do they all view volunteering in the same way? Consider this diversity when planning the range of activities and in the messaging to promote these opportunities.
  • Word of mouth is one of the best forms of promotion. Given the charitable nature of the organisation, it is particularly likely the workforce already has many active volunteers. Consider how to identify and engage existing volunteer champions. How will you involve them in the process from the beginning and enable you to reach further?
  • How will you keep staff engaged once they have started? What contact do you need to have and how can you make this sustainable? Consider the role of celebration of voluntary work in ongoing engagement with your volunteer scheme.

Consider how to talk about your volunteer scheme externally

It is useful to be clear with potential partners about how your ESV scheme objectives and ways of working may differ from ESV schemes in other organisations, particularly how being a charity may affect the way you run your scheme. For example, as a charity, you may have a modest budget for team volunteering activities. This understanding provides the basis for developing opportunities that meet expectations and provide benefits for all parties involved in the scheme.


Page last edited Jun 01, 2017 History

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