U.S. Air Force General Jimmy Doolittle once said, “There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” Selflessly volunteering to serve a greater purpose can inspire others, unite team bonds, and propel communities forward.
In a corporate environment, volunteerism can have similar effects. Employees have the opportunity to do genuine good for their communities and take on causes that they care deeply about. And they can volunteer and serve together, igniting team spirit and inspiring greater collaboration moving forward.
Corporate volunteering isn’t something you need to do every day to be successful — but there are plenty of ways for your team to engage with the community and feel rewarded for doing so.
The Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs
Corporate volunteer initiatives offer many benefits to both companies and employees. They can help build a positive work culture and inspire team spirit. Employees who are given the opportunity to serve others may feel more connected to the organization’s core values and motivated to continue their good work.
- Contribute to your corporate social responsibility: A company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the commitment and responsibility taken by a business to operate in a transparent and responsible manner that positively impacts society, the environment, and the company's stakeholders. Corporate volunteer projects are a way to fulfill some of this responsibility by providing goods and services to people in need.
- Cultivate team morale and collaboration: When employees volunteer together, it can serve as team bonding and boost morale. Working side by side for a selfless cause helps create relationships that foster greater collaboration and teamwork — even more so than traditional company events and bonding exercises. Case in point, 70% of respondents to a Deloitte survey agreed that volunteer activities are more likely to boost morale than a company-sponsored happy hour.
- Improve employees' leadership and creativity skills: Unique problem-solving approaches are often required when engaging in volunteer or community service activities. Employees who are used to tackling corporate projects together might instead have to figure out the most efficient way to build a garden, paint a fence, or clean up a park. Through these activities, team members can flex all-new skill sets while testing out their leadership capabilities in a new environment.
- Boost employee retention and engagement: Because team members are able to give back together, they often feel like they’re part of something bigger while gaining a real sense of accomplishment. Workers who are "purpose-oriented" — who seek personal fulfillment and the chance to help other people at work — have 20% longer tenures than their peers. They also have 64% higher levels of fulfillment in their work, according to NYU's Workforce Purpose Index.
- Improve your employer branding: Almost 60% of workers consider purposeful work a "must-have" when they're deciding on a new job, according to MetLife's annual Employee Benefits Trends Study. By building a strong volunteer program, companies can show their purposeful work and corporate citizenship. As a result, they become more attractive to potential employees who want to work for organizations that make a real difference in the world.
- Create an environment of wellbeing: Almost eight in ten workers said that corporate volunteerism is essential to employee wellbeing, according to Deloitte's volunteerism survey. And MetLife's research found that "purposeful work is the top driver of employee mental, social, and physical health." Offering your workers the opportunity to give back to their communities can improve their health outcomes in every respect.
20 Corporate Volunteerism Ideas For Your Company
Now that you know all the great benefits of corporate volunteer opportunities, here are 20 in-person and virtual volunteering ideas for you to get started:
- Paint a local school or community center: Take on a full paint job or touch up hard-to-reach areas. You can also help out with other handiwork, such as fixing up the landscaping, installing shelves — really anything that needs attention!
- Donate toys and books to children’s hospitals: Members of your team can organize a toy or book drive. Then, you can plan a day where you drop off the items at your chosen hospital.
- Plant trees: Set up a team tree-planting event either at your facility or somewhere else in your community. This can be tied to an event like Earth or Arbor Day, but there’s no bad time to go green. You can even create a special plaque with your organization’s name on it!
- Collect coats for those in need in winter months: Ask team members to donate gently used coats, gloves, and hats. Then, you can organize a day to deliver them to a local shelter or nonprofit for distribution.
- Organize an environmental cleanup day: Whether it's at the beach, a park, or other green space, this can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors while making a positive impact. Get your team together to pick up trash and spread awareness about the importance of preserving our natural resources.
- Partner with or create an online mentorship program: Online mentorship programs are great ways to give back for remote teams. You and your team can mentor students who need help with their studies, internships, or career paths.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen together: Spend a day preparing and serving meals to those in need and learning more about your local organization's mission.
- Host a blood drive for the Red Cross: Schedule an onsite blood drive at your organization with the help of a local Red Cross chapter. Make sure to get approval from your city or town beforehand and supply refreshments for donors.
- Help build homes for Habitat for Humanity: You and your team can spend a day working with this organization (or a similar one), helping to build homes for people in need.
- Sponsor a child’s sports team or arts program: Consider sponsoring a local youth's sports team or an arts program. This could include buying uniforms or supplies, providing practice space, and getting involved in coaching or instruction.
- Offer free tutoring services for at-risk youth: You can spend some time directly with kids in your community and help them pursue academic success.
- Offer one-on-one tutoring services virtually: Just like with an in-person program, you can pair up students with willing participants and offer virtual tutoring services to those who need a little extra help.
- Help build and maintain a community garden: Work together with your team to build and maintain a garden bed for a local community. You can also help by teaching classes on gardening basics, hosting workshops, and organizing events to promote healthy eating in the community.
- Organize a drive-thru food pantry: Gather up canned goods, nonperishables, or other food items and organize a drive-thru food pantry for the day. This is a great way to make sure those in need have easy access to quality groceries within their own community.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter: Whether it's walking the dogs, cleaning out cages, or feeding kittens, animal shelters need all the help they can get. The animal lovers on your team will really enjoy giving back to some of the cutest faces in the community.
- Create care packages for nursing home residents: Put together comfort items like books, puzzles, games, and cards to bring joy to elderly folks in your community.
- Participate in a charity walkathon or 5K run: Sign your team up for a charity walk or 5K run that raises funds for a cause you all care about. You can even create t-shirts with your company's logo to show off at the event.
- Support a sustainable agricultural program: Contribute to a sustainable agriculture program and help make sure that everyone in the community has access to fresh, healthy food.
- Share your team’s skills with underprivileged communities: Give back by teaching skills like coding, web design, digital literacy, or even financial literacy to those who haven't had the chance to learn.
- Offer pro bono consulting services to nonprofits: Many small nonprofits and charitable organizations need help with their operations, but can't afford to hire professional consultants. Consider offering your team's expertise for free to these types of organizations so they can reach their goals.
Encourage Greater Connection and Wellness By Offering Support to Employees
Corporate volunteering programs are a great way to not only inspire team connection and community devotion, but also to explore some of your team members’ passion projects. If employees feel strongly about cleaning up the environment, addressing food insecurity, or caring for homeless pets, an employer volunteer program provides them the perfect opportunity to make a difference — and feel good about going to work.
This is at the heart of sparking true work-life wellness for your employees: delivering a mix of experiences inside and outside of work that interact to the benefit of their health, happiness, and performance. And there are plenty of ways to support your team members and their passions outside of work, to ensure they can thrive when they’re on the clock.
Through a corporate wellness program, you can help employees explore new hobbies, achieve fitness goals, and even join new communities and social groups. Talk to one of our wellbeing specialists to learn how to support work-life wellness for your team!
- 2015 Workforce Purpose Index. Imperative and New York University. Retrieved April 17, 2023 from https://cdn.imperative.com/media/public/Purpose_Index_2015
- Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research. 2017. Deloitte. Retrieved April 17, 2023 from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/citizenship-deloitte-volunteer-impact-research.html?nc=1
- MetLife’s 21st Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2023. MetLife. Retrieved April 17, 2023 from https://www.metlife.com/content/dam/metlifecom/us/noindex/pdf/ebts-2023/MetLife_EBTS_2023.pdf
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.