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Employee Volunteering – is it really working for charities?

By February 12, 2018Volunteering

The launch of new research into employee volunteering by Three Hands shows that whilst the demand for business support is increasing, charities often aren’t getting the kind of help that they need.

Employee volunteering is a well established way for businesses to help tackle social issues using their workforce and is proven to help engage and retain staff and increase employee morale.

But are businesses getting it right? Can hosting employee volunteers cost a charity more than they receive in return? And ultimately, how can businesses bridge these gaps to make sure that their volunteering programmes are as impactful as they can be?

As passionate advocates of business/charity relationships that are mutually beneficial, GivingForce teamed up with Three Hands to set out on a quest to reach out to 200 charities far and wide to ask them to speak, honestly, about their experiences of receiving volunteers from businesses.

The result? The Three Hands 2018 Employee Volunteering research, revealing what it is that businesses are doing well when it comes to volunteering and where some are going wrong – leaving corporates with 5 top tips to think about when volunteering going forward.


Charities’ main motivation to take on employee volunteers is that it will lead to more engagement with businesses. Just over 50% of charities reported that they take on volunteers with the hope that it will eventually lead to a longer term relationship with a business. This begs the questions – are charities accepting volunteers, even if the need for them isn’t pressing?

There are big opportunities for corporates to fill in the gaps.  There is a clear mismatch between the support being offered to charities, and the support that charities need. In fact, 50% of the offers that charities receive are for unskilled team volunteering days (painting fences, gardening etc.). Only 29% of charities need this. What charities are crying out for are pro bono support, skills sharing/training, and fundraising.

It costs charities to take on corporate volunteers, and the cost can be high.  47% of charities agreed that taking on employee volunteers costs them significantly. Of these, 7% felt that the cost to them is higher than the value that they get in return. With this in mind, should charities be charging businesses to volunteer?

Good News! The majority of charities feel like they are listened to, but there is room for improvement.  With over 65% of charities feeling that their needs are prioritised, and 59% believing that businesses have a good understanding of what it takes for them to manage employee volunteers, businesses are on the right track – but what could they be doing better?

In the full report, these points are explored in more depth, along with looking at how smaller charities work with corporates, the top charity bugbears with employee volunteering and why charities are considering charging companies to host volunteers.

You can access the full 2018 Employee Volunteering report here.

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