Not-for-profits generally benefit from corporate volunteer programs — but not always. So if you’re considering a corporate partnership, you need to make sure that it really will be mutually beneficial.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of volunteer programs for companies. Volunteering in the community boosts a company’s reputation, raises its visibility, provides team-building opportunities and has even been shown to reduce employee absenteeism and improve retention.
Nonprofits that are always short of volunteers or that have put off large projects for lack of helping hands can also benefit from such partnerships. Teaming up with a well-known company can raise your nonprofit’s profile with potential donors and the media. And employees who participate may decide to become permanent volunteers or financial supporters of your organization.
Keys to Success
To help ensure your partnership is mutually beneficial, team up with a company whose core business correlates with your mission. For example, an athletic shoes manufacturer is a perfect match for an afterschool basketball program.
Also try to be as accommodating as possible. Many businesses seek one-day volunteer opportunities that can include all of their employees. If your organization is painting the walls of schools, stocking food pantry shelves or setting up for a fundraising event, short-term assistance from an army of volunteers can be a lifesaver. However, don’t create work where it doesn’t exist, particularly if coming up with activities or managing volunteers will put a strain on staff resources.
In addition, be wary when companies offer volunteers on short notice. Corporate volunteer days take planning. But if you have to turn down an eager corporate volunteer, do so carefully. Explain how the offer may, in fact, cost your nonprofit time and money. Then propose other volunteer opportunities.
Once you have a volunteer partner, get to know its corporate responsibility administrator and stay in touch with that person after the volunteer activity has taken place. The goal is to turn a one-day event into an ongoing arrangement — and to ensure that your organization will be seriously considered for any corporate gifts. Contact us for more tips on working with corporate partners.