Corporate Volunteers to the Rescue!

If your nonprofit is not yet taking advantage of corporate volunteer programs, here’s why you should (and a few pointers on how to get started).


Many nonprofits hold events or provide services during business hours (fundraising luncheons, food pantries, etc.). Typically, corporate volunteers prefer to participate in volunteer activities during business hours so it doesn’t cut into their personal time. So, offering employees the opportunity to volunteer on company time –and get paid for doing so– is a major corporate perk since many employees do not have time to volunteer outside of work. Plus, when you measure employee engagement over time, you find that it improves morale and retention, which ultimately improves profit! (These calculations can be complex. If you are a corporate volunteer program manager and you want help demystifying these stats, please contact me.)


In addition, many companies offer “dollars for doers”. Dollars for doers programs recognize employee volunteer efforts with donations. When an employee volunteers with an eligible nonprofit, the company matches their volunteer hours with a financial contribution to that nonprofit. The typical formula is $10-20 per each eligible hour spent volunteering with a maximum donation amount per employee (typically $500).


Pro bono work is not just for lawyers! Many companies have a formal skills-based volunteer programs to help nonprofits with everything from accounting to tech support. The value of this service is much higher than having that same skilled volunteer paint a fence. For example, the market value of having an IT professional serve food in a homeless shelter is tripled when that same IT professional provides pro bono tech support to the nonprofit instead. Currently, only about 15 percent of corporate volunteerism is skills-based, but I expect this figure to increase since pro bono service is a great way to support a nonprofit. To see which companies are setting the standard, check out A Billion + Change (, a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars of pro bono and skills-based service by 2013.


If you work for a nonprofit and you want to start using corporate volunteers, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Plan ahead. Many companies have a scheduled day or week of service.
  2. Try to offer group volunteer activities. Many corporate volunteer groups use this as a team-building opportunity for employees. And they usually want to wear their company t-shirts and get some good group pictures.
  3. Try to pick tangible, direct service work such as planting trees, picking up trash, painting fences, serving food, etc. Many corporate volunteers spend all day working in an office environment so they don’t want to be in an office stuffing envelopes on their volunteer day off – they want to get their hands dirty!
  4. Have corporate volunteers start with direct service work before diving into skills-based volunteerism. Your pro bono volunteers will appreciate the opportunity to see the mission in action first.

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