Crazy Easy Tips for Starting a CSR Volunteer Program

When it comes to corporate philanthropy, many jump directly towards financial donations or ‘match in kind’ services. But there is a third program that is custom-built for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives – the volunteer program.

It makes sense that CSR volunteer programs are a huge draw for socially responsible organizations. For employers, this type of program delivers the visibility they are looking for, and for employees, volunteering gives them a chance to make a difference. Volunteer programs are a perfect way for nonprofits to get started with corporate partnerships.

Here are four crazy-easy tips for starting a CSR volunteer program at your nonprofit:

#1. Get creative – build a volunteer program that people (and companies) want to be a part of.

The goal of any CSR volunteer program is to motivate employees and companies to become involved with your nonprofit long-term. Because volunteer programs are typically the first step in a CSR initiative, the better your program, the more likely your corporate partners will want to become financially involved.

This is your CSR volunteer program is = critical. Make building your program easy by starting with the basics – think of a cool volunteer opportunity that directly impacts your nonprofit mission.

Build a program ‘outline’ that answers basic questions (available positions, dress code, attendance guidelines, etc.) and includes background information on your mission, vision, and past volunteer opportunities.

#2. Build a program plan that highlights both sides of the partnership.

The only way you’re going to build your CSR initiative and get companies on board is if you’re explicit about what your partners are going to get out of the relationship.

Spell out how your team will leverage social media, promote the partnership in the press, and promote the program to help build your partners’ reputations.

Make it easy by planning ahead: have releases on-site at your volunteer events so you can use pictures and logos in all your promotional materials; keep a running list of volunteer names and information and make sure you follow and tag your partners in social posts and announcements.

#3. Partner with organizations that hire employees in your local community.

Once your program is ready to go, it’s time to reach out to organizations that would be a good fit for your mission and program.

An easy place to start here is to look at organizations in your area that hire people in your community. Having this community connection will be important in the long run when it comes time to actually ask for volunteers to sign-up.

Be sure to talk to your current volunteers about possible opportunities for CSR programs at the places they work as this creates even reach into potential partnerships.

#4. Make sure you determine and track success metrics to give back to your partners.

At the end of the day, your CSR partners are corporate entities that need to know their investment (even if it is just an investment of labor, not financial) is worth it.

It is critical to update your partners on a regular schedule to demonstrate the success and impact of your program. The easiest way to do this is to start collecting metrics at the very beginning so that nothing slips through the cracks.

Make sure you’re measuring the number of volunteers, the number of social mentions both your partner and your own nonprofit receive over social media, as well as any financial donations that come in during your volunteer event.

BONUS #5. How one nonprofit built a winning CSR volunteer program

Trust us – all it takes is a great idea and a good plan to create an incredibly successful volunteer program. Well Aware, a nonprofit whose mission it is to provide sustainable solutions to alleviate water scarcity and contamination in Africa, started a CSR volunteer program in 2010 to provide team building opportunities and raise funds for their projects.

Their volunteer events aim to boost both the image of their corporate partners as well as raise money for the nonprofit. Well Aware hosts Water Walks with groups that have volunteers experiencing what it’s like to have to walk miles for fresh water carrying heavy water jugs on their backs. The events frequently raise thousands of dollars and have helped Well Aware become a CSR volunteer fundraising leader.

If your team wants to get started with CSR initiatives, then a volunteer program is for you. Learn how to jump-start your CSR volunteer program with our newest guide, “A Nonprofit’s Guide to the World of Corporate Social Responsibility” – download now!