Getting Started

So, what is involved to create a successful program? We have pulled together some points for you to consider when setting up an employee volunteering program and when planning a volunteering project.

What to consider when you are setting up an employee volunteering program

What to consider when planning a volunteering project

The How

A guide to implementing, improving and sustaining your employee volunteering program.

Learn from experience

The Corporate Volunteer Council has a diverse range of members representing businesses that have years of experience in corporate volunteering to others that have only just begun in this area. Explore the challenges they have faced and mistakes they made so that your organisation can avoid them.

Use templates

Consult the planing and resources sections of this Toolkit. Or view the examples section for a number of current policies, procedures and advice on corporate volunteering.

Develop guidelines

Once your organisation's volunteering policy is written, ensure you have procedures to follow so that employees know how to get involved in well-planned and meaningful volunteer activities.

Talk to an expert

National, State and Territory Peak Bodies for Volunteering, Volunteer Resource Centres and organisations that offer specialist corporate volunteering programs all have a wealth of knowledge in setting up volunteering programs and some offer management of the complete process on a fee for service basis.

Set aside funds

Do not forget to ensure you have a dedicated, realistic budget for your corporate volunteering program. It costs money to coordinate volunteers, transport employees to a volunteer activity, provide catering, record and evaluate the experience and to provide safety and other equipment.

Seek support

Ensure you have buy-in for the volunteering program throughout the business. Volunteering should be of the volunteer's free will, and be a positive, meaningful and supported experience.

Make it positive

Volunteering should be a positive, meaningful experience for employees. The more appealing the program is, the more participation there will be.

Strive for best practice

Consider benchmarking your business against other companies in the area of employee volunteering. There are excellent tools available to measure the impact of your corporate social responsibility program.

Keep track

Are your employees participating? If not, think about how you can increase the uptake of the program. How are you promoting the program? Is it easy to register? Is there involvement at executive level? Are you offering the right type of volunteering experiences?

Collect feedback

Is the employee volunteering program having a positive impact on the employees and on the community organisation involved?

Talk about it

Ask the employees if the program is working to their satisfaction.

Adapt

Your program should be continuously improved to meet changing organisational and community needs, and also address feedback received from employees and community partners.

Plan for succession

Ensure new staff members maintain and build on effective systems, experience and knowledge already in place.

Spread the good news

Record, communicate and recognise your employees' achievements in volunteering.

Examples of corporate volunteering policies

Alcoa

Alcoa encourages its employees to help build stronger local communities through active participation and volunteerism with community groups and organisations.

Employees are encouraged to participate in events that occur outside normal work hours, on weekends or during rostered days off.

Volunteer events during normal work hours require approvals and should not cause any business interruptions.

Alcoa has a specific program that recognises the collective efforts of employees who volunteer through a financial contribution to the non-profit organisation they support. These grants are limited in number; require approvals; and associated volunteering must take place outside of work hours.

Bankwest

Bankwest colleagues are passionate about making a difference in their communities, which is why they support community initiatives at a grassroots level to contribute to causes they care about.
 
Bankwest facilitates volunteering opportunities for its people to actively contribute via team based, skilled volunteering and mentoring programs and also encourages its people to volunteer through their own personal connections to charities and not-for-profit community groups.
 
All colleagues (whether they are full-time, part-time, fixed-term or casual) and contractors of Bankwest may be eligible to take part in volunteering activities at their manager's discretion. The program involves:

  • Sixteen hours of Volunteering Leave per year.
  • Up to 10 days for approved emergency service organisations (includes leave for training)
  • Access to approved volunteering projects through a number of volunteering partners: including Volunteering WA, United Way WA, Australian Business and Community Network plus charity and volunteering partners.
  • Volunteering can also take place with any registered not-for-profit organisation that meets certain criteria.
  • Each application to participate in a volunteering activity must be approved by the relevant line manager.
  • Teams who coordinate their own volunteer day need to conduct a risk analysis and complete an online form through the Internal Safety Intranet to register the activity.

Beyond Bank

The Beyond Bank Australia Group supports Community Development by encouraging staff to participate in the volunteer program and by providing staff with the opportunity to take up to two (2) 'Community Leave Days' in support of endorsed Community Development Team charities and community groups.

Essentially, staff each get two leave days per year to use towards volunteering. This can be through an organised volunteer project with the bank, or through personal volunteering opportunities staff take up themselves. If the volunteer project occurs on a day off (i.e. weekend), staff are able to claim those hours back as part of TOIL and work directly with their line managers to make those arrangements.

RAC

RAC’s Corporate Volunteering program is part of their commitment to give back to WA.

All volunteering activities are organised by RAC’s Corporate Volunteering team.

RAC people can access paid volunteering leave with a number of approved not-for-profit program partners, either on a day they choose (individual volunteering) or with their immediate team (team volunteering).

Criteria and eligibility is as follows:

Individual volunteering

  •  One paid individual volunteering day per calendar year (volunteering does not accrue)
  • Open to permanent and maximum-term contract employees who have passed probation
  • Volunteering leave must be taken on a rostered work day (time in lieu is not supported for activities that fall on a non-rostered day)
  • Participation is subject to leaders approval and the capacity within the business unit
  • Employees may apply for additional paid volunteering leave, this requires approval from their direct leader and relevant Executive General Manager.

 Team volunteering

  •  The number of activities is at the discretion of the leader, within the capacity of the business unit
  • All RAC people can participate in team volunteering days.

Deloitte

Deloitte is committed to supporting the community and will provide employees with one day (7.5 hours) of paid leave each year to participate in voluntary work with one of the firm’s approved charities to make a positive contribution in the community. This policy applies to all permanent and fixed term full time and part time employees. Additional paid volunteering leave can be granted with approval under certain circumstances.

Deloitte recognises the provision of pro bono services and volunteering as a vital component of how we contribute our time and skills to the community, as a Responsible Business and good corporate citizen. The firm’s aim is to integrate pro bono work with its professional practice and to develop a volunteering culture and giving ethic within the firm. Deloitte encourages partners and employees to take part in pro bono work and has set an annual pro bono target/budget. Deloitte expects that the quality of services provided to pro bono clients be the same quality of service provided to full-fee paying clients. In addition, those doing pro bono work should show the client the same professional and ethical obligations that are owed to any paying client for approved pro bono engagements.

Deloitte acknowledges that the giving of blood is a valuable community service and will provide leave entitlements for employees participating in blood donation programs. This policy applies to all permanent and fixed term full time and part time employees. Employees are entitled to two hours of paid blood donor leave per quarter. This leave is not cumulative and may not be carried over.

Employees who are members of a Government recognised volunteer emergency services organisation such as the State Emergency Service, St John Ambulance Brigade, the Bush Fire Brigade or an equivalent organisation may be granted paid leave at their current base salary rate under the following circumstances where supporting documentation is provided:

  • Two days per calendar year to attend training associated with their volunteer emergency services status (This leave is not cumulative and may not be carried over to the following year); and
  • For the duration of their attendance at an officially declared emergency or disaster. Paid leave may be granted on each occasion that an employee is called upon to undertake official emergency services duty providing they are not required for essential Deloitte operations.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto supports and encourages all Western Australian employees to contribute to their local communities through the Rio Tinto Employees in the Community program. Employees are also encouraged to take up volunteering opportunities with Rio Tinto community partners.

The three main elements of Rio Tinto's Employees in the Community program are:

  • Dollars for Doers - grants to organisations where an employee has volunteered over 50 hours in a year.
  • Team Rio Tinto - financial and in kind support given to groups of 20 or more employees participating in fundraising, volunteering, or community events.
  • Choose your own Charity - employees vote for top six charity events they would like the company to support them in for the year. Rio Tinto provides up to $20,000 per event.
  • Time off for volunteering during work hours is provided to employees at the discretion of their direct line manager. The exception to this is State Emergency Services volunteers, who are released from duties to attend emergencies at all times.

Squire Sanders

Employees are entitled to one paid volunteer day per calendar year. This day may be taken as two half days, if required.

Employees are able to undertake voluntary work for not-for-profit organisations of their choice; however, they should ensure that:

  • The activity undertaken does not put themselves, or the public at risk.
  • While on volunteer leave they comply with Squire Sanders values.

Squire Sanders broader Community Investment Program has four pillars:

  • Pro Bono legal work - for organisations such as the RSPCA, St Vincent de Paul, the International Skills Training Institute of Health, Many Rivers Opportunities and Bicycles for Humanity.
  • Squire Sanders Youth Arts Foundation
  • Warnbro Community High School Partnership - mentoring programs and scholarships for students are provided as well as a number of other programs.
  • Volunteer Day - employees are encouraged to support the above causes with their volunteer leave.

Woodside

Employee engagement is a driver to embedding the social investment program's theme of health and wellbeing among Woodside employees, under the three social focus areas of Living Energy, Creative Energy and Natural Energy.

The three main elements of Woodside's social investment employee engagement strategy are:

  • Workplace giving.
  • Volunteering.
  • Employee participation.

Employees are given one full day or twelve hours (over the year) paid volunteer leave. Volunteer opportunities are sourced externally from Conservation Volunteers Australia and Volunteering WA.

Approval for use of employee volunteer time must be sought from the Business Unit Director to ensure that activities chosen comply with Health, Safety and Environmental requirements and also the Woodside Corporate Code of Conduct.

Support

Support, guidance and further information from volunteer centres & other helpful organisations

Support for Volunteering Centres

Volunteering WA, along with other National, State and Territory Peak Bodies for Volunteering, some Volunteer Resource Centres and organisations that offer specialist corporate volunteering services to help your business:

  • Clarify your volunteering vision, goals and policy.
  • Understand what commitment your business can make.
  • Determine program requirements.
  • Talk to, engage with and train staff.
  • Advise on and select meaningful projects.
  • Plan volunteering events and take care of logistics.
  • Build partnerships with community groups.
  • Evaluate the program and its impact.
  • Establish an ongoing employee volunteering program that includes various levels of engagement such as team-based skills-based placements.

Need more information? Go to our web site at corporatevolunteers.org.au. You can also contact the corporate volunteering team at Volunteering WA on 9482 4333 or make an email enquiry today.

National, State and Territory Peak Bodies for Volunteering have a wealth of information and practical experience in their particular jurisdiction and are able to provide employee volunteering assistance to any business interested in making a difference to the community through corporate volunteering.

A Volunteering Resource Centre in your local area may also be able to assist. Contact details for Volunteer Resource Centres can be found on the website of their State or Territory Peak Body for Volunteering.

Other helpful organisations

Following are links to other organisations that may be of help in the development and growth of your corporate volunteering program. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but one that is relevant to the content, context and date of publication of this Toolkit.

Resources

Templates