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Corporate volunteering policies don’t need to be complicated, but they do need to be in place. If you’re setting up a corporate volunteering program, it’s vital you pair and present it with a volunteering policy to match.
89% of companies have some sort of volunteering policy including paid-release time, registration process, flexible scheduling, or employee donation matching—but, there’s more to consider including in a volunteer policy.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how to write a corporate volunteering policy that covers everything you need and one that your employees will understand, use, and benefit from. We’ve collected some stand out corporate volunteering policy examples to help inspire your efforts.
What is a corporate volunteering policy?
A corporate volunteer policy clearly states the roles and expectations of volunteers in your volunteer program. It aligns volunteers with CSR objectives and defines the level of involvement of all volunteers.
A volunteer policy can include all types of elements to encourage and aid participation:
- Paid time off
- Approval process
- Registration & selection process
- Supported causes
- Non-desk or shift worker specific policies
- Incentives mechanisms like “dollars for doers”
A volunteer policy also ensures all volunteers are treated equally and know the corporate expectations of them. Every corporate volunteer scheme needs a volunteer policy to ensure it runs smoothly for the business, nonprofit partners, and the volunteers themselves.
Why do you need a company volunteer policy (CVP)?
You need a company volunteer policy to protect all stakeholders within your volunteer scheme. From nonprofits to volunteers, your brand reputation to your investors’ reputation—a volunteer policy will ensure everyone is aligned and covered. It helps to manage expectations for all parties.
At the same time, there are plenty of benefits to a corporate volunteering scheme, which can help to flesh out your CVP.
If you’re not in a position to start writing your volunteer policy, then no problem. You can skip the next part of the article and jump straight into different types of volunteer policy examples for some inspiration.
Things to consider when writing a corporate volunteering policy
When you set off writing your corporate volunteering policy, you need to consider a few steps along the way. By covering these steps when writing your policy, you’ll be sure your policy is as much of a success as it can be.
- Align volunteering efforts with Employee Purpose or CSR program
- Identify the benefits of hosting a volunteer program
- Define key stakeholders
- Define project scope, resources, cost & budget
- Set the project plan
- Write a policy that’s simple and clear (KISS principle)
- Implement policy in your systems, such as HR time management tools
- Communicate your policy
How to structure a corporate volunteering policy
The shorter you can make your policy without missing essential information, the better. Your policy is here to be read by as many people involved as possible; it’s important to be cautious of their time—and their attention spans!
Here are some chapters to include in your policy:
What does your organisation do, and what CSR efforts do you have that align with your mission? How do you hope your volunteering scheme will double-down on these efforts?
Showcase the importance of volunteers to the success of your project/s. Your introduction sets the tone for the rest of the document. Keep your sentences short and concise, be clear with your messaging and avoid industry jargon. This is where you need to get people hooked enough to read the rest of your policy.
Put top-level volunteer benefits and offerings here. Are you giving paid time off? Are you rewarding volunteer champions in some way? Bullet these benefits in your introduction. Give a holistic overview of your volunteering policy.
2. Volunteer recruitment & registration
Define how your business will go about recruiting volunteers for your cause/s. How vigorous will your selection process be? It’s also a good idea to get a little more technical in this section. If you’re able to map out the recruitment workflow down to the tools you’re using, then this is the moment to do it.
Remember that certain volunteering schemes require specific skill sets, or perhaps even background checks if your volunteers are working with vulnerable people. This chapter is the place to put all of this important info.
It’s also a good idea to include the volunteer registration process here. This registration process should include important info like:
- How to ask for leave and who to ask for approval
- Where to input information on your volunteer request
- Volunteer days offered and how they can coincide with teammates
- Donation matching applications
- Work hours requests and out of work requests
- Volunteer event specifics: guests, budgets, location etc.
Be as inclusive as possible in this chapter. Put policies in place for all types of employees, including non-desk or shift workers. When it comes to recruitment & registration, which types of workers are eligible? For example, do part-time workers or contractors have the same policy as full-time employees?
3. Volunteer training
Even if your volunteering scheme doesn’t require volunteers with a great number of technical skills, or skills in certain areas, there might be a need for training. Your volunteers are out there representing your company; whether they’re doing fieldwork or virtual volunteering, your business reputation is in their hands.
At the same time, these volunteers will be exposed to new situations and environments. Perhaps their volunteering program will require them to use new tools and tech they’re not familiar with. This chapter outlines the volunteer training that all volunteers will receive as well more specific training volunteers will go through to participate in niche services.
4. Expenses & reimbursement
Your volunteers are already considering donating their time, knowledge, and labour to help your causes. It’s a lot to ask of someone, but many are more than happy to do it. Therefore, it’s important to manage expectations when it comes to financial support for volunteering efforts.
Will your business support volunteers with travel costs, meals eaten during fieldwork, and any other expenses deemed necessary for volunteers to successfully do their work?
Define the financial support all volunteers will receive and the process for each. If they’re spending their own cash, volunteers want to know when they can expect to be reimbursed, as well as how to go about that reimbursement process.
5. Volunteer champions
A volunteer scheme will introduce new cross-team collaboration, as well as new micro-hierarchies within your business. Your volunteer policy should provide an overview of who volunteers can turn to and for what, within the company. Plus, let them know who is managing the overall volunteer scheme.
This may be a good time to identify your volunteering champions or ambassadors. These are not necessarily people in management positions. However, the people are packed with knowledge and are normally more than willing to help the volunteering scheme succeed.
Identify, and recognise these champions. Check with them first that they’re happy to be named as a resource, and if they are, give a note of thanks to them in your policy.
6. Health, safety & insurance
Your volunteer scheme may involve volunteers participating outside of their traditional settings. Field volunteering may require employees going to new environments, using new modes of transport, and doing things they’re not used to.
It’s not necessarily dangerous, but you may want (or be required in some countries) to assure volunteers that they’ll be covered by insurance if something were to happen. At the same time, link to your health and safety training resources so volunteers can prepare themselves as best as possible.
Requirements and across countries and companies, for example, in some cases employers or nonprofits may be required to provide insurance coverage for volunteers. In other cases, insurance is the employee’s/volunteer’s responsibility. If applicable, outline the insurance policy or insurance coverage that all volunteers receive so they can volunteer with peace of mind.
7. Complaints procedures
As much as we’d love to think our corporate volunteer scheme will run smoothly, things happen, problems arise, and complaints may need to be addressed. That’s okay; each one is a learning curb for improving your policies, training, and relationships with stakeholders.
Let employees know that if they’re ever unhappy, have a problem, or would like to make a complaint about their experience that it’s okay, and you’re listening. Outline the procedures they’ll need to go through, provide contact details, and give them a timeline they can expect to hear back from you.
8. Confidentiality & sensitive information
This is largely depending on the type of volunteering you have available. However, there’s a chance your employees will be presented with sensitive information. If so, it’s important to involve a confidentiality agreement in your policy for the safety of the people and nonprofits you’re helping. This will make everyone feel better and more secure about the work they’re doing.
5 Examples of fantastic corporate volunteering policies
As you’ll learn in this section, a good corporate volunteering policy can do wonders for the success of your volunteer program. Here are some stand-out volunteer policy elements, as well as the wonders they’ve done for their respective businesses.
Remember, each of these elements are part of a broader volunteer policy, but one of the key aspects to encourage and support volunteering.
1. Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters clearly design different types of employee’s policies in this example. They let fulltime and part-time employees know what they’re entitled to apply for and the maximum amount they can do for a nonprofit via Thomson Reuters.
Another thing we like about this corporate volunteering policy example is that Thomson Reuters map out their Dollars for Doers program and state what every employee could potentially earn by donating their time for their cause of choice.
Frontiers managed to reach over 50% of their worldwide workforce in just seven months with their purpose-driven employee volunteering program. The 600-strong workforce noticed spontaneous employee-driven volunteering initiatives popping up organically and decided it was time to show their support.
Frontiers introduced the Alaya tool to centralise and formalise a heap of volunteering initiatives, track collaborative progress, and work towards great goals together. To affirm the importance of volunteering, among other policy updates, the business updated their HR policy to grant every employee three working days a year of volunteer time off.
That’s potentially 1,800 working days rededicated to positive impact per year. If we say every employee works an average 9-5 day, that’s 14,400 hours of volunteering granted per year, and printed into their HR policy. We take our virtual hat off to you, Frontiers!
The bank, Santander, set up a corporate volunteering policy with a goal to strengthen Santander group’s commitment to communities, to increase employees’ commitment to Santander group, to build better working relationships among employees, and to develop employee’s workplace abilities and skills.
Their worldwide policy states how each country must develop a volunteering initiative that allows all employees time to give back. They also stress that it is the responsibility of each respective HR department to develop a reward-system for those standout volunteers.
4. BNP Paribas
The leading European bank is committed to fully integrate ESG issues in its business model and corporate culture. All aspects of its economic, social, civic, and environmental responsibilities are thus taken into account both in its sustainable finance strategy and in its CSR initiatives, with employee engagement being a success pillar behind their CSR efforts.
At the end of 2018, the bank decided to update their policies to reflect their efforts. They introduced a corporate volunteering policy to the business which gave two working days per year to every employee for volunteering.
“In 2019, 260 employees gave more than 850 hours of their working time to support local nonprofit organisations.”—Clémence Francelle, CSR & Corporate Philanthropy Programme Manager, BNP Paribas in Switzerland.
By creating solid corporate volunteering policies, the bank could affirm the importance of volunteering for their greater mission and engage with over 40% of the 1,300 employee company.
5. Phillips 66
Phillips 66 wins a feature for their simple yet effective top-level overview of their volunteer policy. Anyone who’s reading the policy for the first time knows how up to date it is, the owner of the document and who to contact should they have questions. People also know who approves volunteer applications.
There’s no rush on your volunteer policy
Writing a volunteer policy is important, however, it’s not essential to kick-start your volunteer program and should certainly not be a roadblock. You can start your initiatives and then implement one as your program develops.
If you’ve got a workforce that is ready to volunteer then find ways they can do so and build your policy as you go. As long as you manage expectations from day one, and let employees know this is a learning process for your business as much as it is for them then your transparency will be applauded and respected.
As your volunteer program matures, so will your policy. It’s okay for there to be a few bumps along the way, as long as everyone learns from them and your volunteer policy adapts to smooth the path out for the future.Go back to blog >
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