By Aly Sterling, President and Founder of Aly Sterling Philanthropy

As corporate philanthropy grows in popularity, your nonprofit has a great opportunity to expand its volunteer base. Corporate volunteering can be an effective way for your organization to tap into a specific skill set and get much-needed support to advance your mission—from increasing the number of volunteers in your programs to receiving more technical support like free graphic design services. 

Once you set up a corporate volunteering program with a company, you’ll want to provide an impactful, rewarding experience that maintains your volunteers’ interest and encourages them to volunteer frequently. This way, you can establish reliable access to an expanded volunteer network that is eager to support your aims year-round. 

In this article, we’ll go over key tips to engage your corporate volunteers and retain their support for the long run:

  • Survey volunteers for their interests
  • Provide thorough training opportunities
  • Demonstrate volunteer appreciation

Backed by a robust corporate volunteering network, your nonprofit will be in great shape to deepen its impact and take its mission to new heights. Let’s begin. 

Survey volunteers for their interests

From supporting your fundraising efforts to generating content for your social media pages, corporate volunteers can help fill in gaps in your operations and push forward your goals. One of the best ways to kickstart your volunteers’ work at your organization is by finding positions that match their interests and backgrounds. This will not only benefit your volunteers, but also ensure that your organization is able to meet its objectives. 

Before corporate volunteers get started with helping your organization, send an onboarding survey that invites them to share their interests and strengths. This will help you get a better idea of who they are and what type of volunteer work naturally aligns with their preferences. 

For instance, consider asking questions such as:

  • What makes you passionate about our cause?
  • What employment skills do you have that could translate well in your volunteer work? 
  • Do you have leadership experience? 
  • What other volunteer experiences have you had?

You can also ask volunteers to rank which program or department they are interested in working with. While volunteers may not get matched with their first pick, this demonstrates to your volunteer base that you care about their interests and will consider their other top choices. 

However, your organization may also be in a position where you are in need of a unique type of support. For example, if your nonprofit is struggling with budgeting and tracking its finances, you might partner with an accounting firm specifically for their employees to help with financial management. In this instance, you can offer supplementary volunteering opportunities alongside this primary volunteer role that may also appeal to your volunteers’ interests. 

Provide thorough training opportunities

Make sure your volunteers feel well equipped to tackle their tasks by providing training for their specific roles and introducing them to your organization. A great way to familiarize your new corporate volunteers with your work and welcome your corporate partner to your organization is by hosting an orientation session. Your orientation should be hands-on and cover important elements, such as:

  • An overview of your nonprofit, including its history, mission and projects done to date. 
  • Your volunteers’ responsibilities, including a summary of their roles and the goals they will be working towards achieving. This should also include expectations around how often they should volunteer. 
  • Sign-in and out procedures so volunteers know exactly how to check in and log their time for their shifts.
  • A tour of your facility so volunteers can confidently navigate their way around when they begin their roles. 

If your corporate volunteers have busy schedules, you could also hold this session online and record it so attendees can asynchronously watch the orientation when they have the ability. To ensure that the online orientation is reviewed, consider creating a required quiz that tests volunteers’ knowledge on basic facts covered in the session.

Since your orientation session will be more of a broad overview and introduction to your nonprofit, your nonprofit may also need to host more specific training sessions. Survey volunteers ahead of time for their availability so you can form group training sessions during lunch breaks on weekdays or on the weekends. 

Plus, your nonprofit can also offer a volunteer manual and other supplemental materials that corporate volunteers can refer to on your website at any time. These resources should cover topics like different volunteer opportunities, volunteer policies and procedures and general guidance on how to secure volunteer grants through employers. Keep your resource library up to date so new volunteers have access to fresh guidelines and instructions. 

Demonstrate volunteer appreciation

Your corporate volunteers dedicate themselves to furthering your mission and making your vision for a better tomorrow into reality. To demonstrate how much their work means to your organization, thank your volunteers and explain the impact of their support. There are many ways you can express volunteer appreciation, such as:

  • Writing a handwritten letter or note. According to Fundraising Letters’ guide to volunteer thank-you letters, personalized notes can help your volunteers feel personally connected to your organization and eager to volunteer again. Make sure to reference the specific activity that your volunteer took part in and how this helped make a difference. For example, you might thank a volunteer for helping to build out your communications strategy as part of your nonprofit strategic plan. Then, explain how the robust new email segmentation they helped execute led to a 5% increase in online donations. 
  • Spotlighting volunteers publicly. Highlight your corporate volunteers on your social media channels or in your email newsletter. Here, you can share impactful visuals of your volunteers in action and explain how long they’ve been working with your organization. Make sure to ask permission before posting or sending, as some volunteers may prefer to be thanked in private. 
  • Hosting an exclusive event. Host an engaging event, such as a dinner or awards ceremony, to give thanks to your corporate volunteers and their companies. This is also a great way to connect with the leaders of your corporate partners and thank them for working with your organization. 

As your organization gets to know your corporate volunteers personally, you can thank them in ways that will most resonate with them. Regularly communicating your gratitude to your corporate volunteers will lead to higher retention rates and greater satisfaction with their volunteer roles. 

As you kickstart your corporate volunteering program, you may need help structuring it in a way that makes sense for your organization. According to Aly Sterling Philanthropy, a consultant can help your nonprofit identify the best ways to empower your volunteers, staff and board members to tackle your biggest challenges and meet your goals. With an engaged and productive corporate volunteer base, your nonprofit can hit its benchmarks and maximize overall success. Good luck!