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Employer-supported volunteering is when you support your staff to take part in volunteering opportunities, usually during work hours. It’s also sometimes called corporate volunteering.
The volunteering activities can be practical or skills-based. An example of practical volunteering would be helping to package and deliver food parcels with a local food bank. A skills-based volunteering example would be designing a website for a charity.
To learn more about employer-supported volunteering, see CIPD’s helpful factsheet.
Employer-supported volunteering has benefits for both organisations and staff.
Some common benefits for organisations are:
Some common benefits for staff include:
Learn more about the benefits of employer-supported volunteering in our Time Well Spent report.
Think about why you want to offer employer-supported volunteering and what impact you want to make. Use this to develop a plan and approach.
For example, if you want to help your local community, you could start by getting in touch with local organisations to find out what support they might need. This could include:
If you want to build relationships with specific organisations, you should contact them early on in your planning process. For example, you may want to speak to organisations that work with young people or on environmental issues. Discuss what sort of volunteering opportunities they may be able to offer your team and what the mutual benefits would be.
If your main focus is on building stronger relationships in your team, then you should think about organising activities that staff can take part in as a group.
Consider whether there are any volunteering activities you’re not willing to support via employer-supported volunteering. These might be activities or organisations that don’t align with your organisation’s mission or values.
You can find more information on the most common motivations for employer-supported volunteering in our Time Well Spent report.
Talk to your staff before starting your employer-supported volunteering offer. You should find out:
Talk to your staff in one-to-one conversations and team meetings. You could also carry out a survey to gather opinions.
There are some practical things to consider when starting an employer-supported volunteering offer.
Offering paid time off for volunteering can encourage people to volunteer. For example, it allows staff to take part in opportunities that clash with work hours. It also means staff won’t lose money if they decide to take time off work to volunteer.
You can also give staff the option to claim back paid time off for volunteering they do outside of working hours, for example in the evening or at weekends. This allows staff to organise volunteering around other commitments, such as childcare. It also gives them time to rest and supports their wellbeing.
Volunteering can be arranged by your organisation or by staff members themselves. You can also seek external help, for example from a council for voluntary services (CVS).
Organising the volunteering opportunities yourself and offering them to staff can be a good option if your organisation works with a specific voluntary sector partner.
You should decide if you want to see evidence of volunteering opportunities arranged by staff. For example, a confirmation email from the organisation they’ll be volunteering with. Remember it may be harder for staff to provide evidence for informal volunteering.
The following organisations can help develop your employer-supported volunteering offer and find opportunities for your staff.
Contact our small charity helpdesk
Your employer-supported volunteering policy should help clarify the expectations between your organisation and staff who decide to volunteer.
The policy should include:
Our trusted supplier Atkinson HR CIC has a useful employer-supported volunteering policy template.
To learn more about good practice in volunteer management, use our involving volunteers guidance.
Help staff find volunteering opportunities by contacting local organisations such as community centres, faith groups and councils for voluntary services.
Share information with staff on where to find volunteering opportunities.
Staff will have a variety of different skills and interests. Make sure you're offering and sharing a wide range of opportunities.
Consider whether the opportunities you’re offering are accessible and inclusive. For example, do volunteering hours clash with childcare responsibilities? If the role involves physical activity, can it be made accessible to people with limited mobility? Make sure your opportunities cater to different needs.
You can also ask staff to share volunteering opportunities that they come across.
Regularly remind staff of volunteering opportunities and the benefits of volunteering. Use internal communications channels, including emails, one-to-ones and team meetings.
Recognise and celebrate volunteers.
Last reviewed: 30 March 2023Help us improve this content
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