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A recent report from Three Hands looking into charities’ experiences with employee volunteering has given us greater insight into the needs of charities, and inspired us to think about how employee volunteering is a relationship that everybody benefits from.

Employee volunteering is more than team-building days and fence painting. Done properly, it is something that can produce real impact for charities, businesses, and volunteers themselves. We explored the impact that volunteering can have on each.


What are the Benefits to Charities?

­According to the Three Hands report, there are number of reasons why charities are looking for the support of employees and their respective businesses, the top three being:

  • A hope that engaging employee volunteers will lead to a bond with businesses.
  • The skills and experience of people coming from specific industries will benefit the charitable organisation.
  • These same skills and experience may benefit the end service users.

Employee volunteers also allow a charity to carry out work they otherwise wouldn’t be able to focus on, enabling the charity to run projects on a much larger scale, building long-term relationships with stakeholders, and ultimately saving money on the cost of paid workers.

While 75% of the 181 charities surveyed by Three Hands received voluntary support from employees, 93% of them showed a need for more.

Although many businesses are engaged in supporting a variety of charities, demand is outstripping supply, and there is definite need in the charitable sector for more participation.


What Are the Benefits to Volunteers?

Research released by Employee Volunteering has shown that not only did a great percentage of their volunteers develop skills in teamwork, but also that the experience had a positive impact on the way they viewed their employer, and gave them a greater understanding of the issues surrounding their communities.

The benefit is undeniable – employee volunteers have stated that they feel they gain a sense of achievement on a personal and collective level, that their relationships with their colleagues are strengthened, and that they have increased levels of engagement with their respective organisations. They also build on their skills and qualifications which enhance their mobility within their field as well as their general employability.


What are the benefits for businesses?

It’s also very clear from a number of studies that businesses also benefit from employee volunteering.

An employee volunteering programme can have a big impact on hiring and staff retention.

A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers stated that 88% of young people in employment were inclined towards businesses with prominent CSR programmes and a massive 86% would consider leaving their current organisation if their employer’s CSR no longer fit with their personal ideals and moral compass.

The 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey also revealed that 61% of young employees said that a volunteering programme would be a deciding factor when faced with a decision between two job offers. It also found that employees who volunteer during work time report being more loyal and committed to their company.

Lastly, 91% of Fortune 500 HR managers said that “volunteering knowledge and expertise to a non-profit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills” – benefiting volunteer and company alike.



So, the need for employee support in the non-profit sector may be more integral than we first imagined. The numbers don’t lie – they paint a clear picture as to how beneficial volunteering is to charities, businesses and volunteers themselves: through creating corporate-charity bonds and skill-building. Volunteering also builds trust between employees and their employers – the knowledge that their employers are ethical and responsible helping to develop a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment at work.

If your organisation is not already involved in employee volunteering, it’s never too late to start. The need is there, and the benefits for everyone all too clear to see.


Fay Rahman

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