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

Argyle Diamonds

Volunteer Leave is defined as leave granted to participate in approved formal volunteering activity during a time that an employee would otherwise be rostered at work.

Each employee can access a Volunteer Leave entitlement of two days per calendar year, on the basis that the employee is full-time.

Volunteer Leave must be planned in advance; there is no retrospective entitlement.

The volunteer experience must follow the core categories being a benefit in either: Education, Health & Sport, Arts & Culture, Environment, or Community.

In order to qualify, the experience must include the following principles: be of benefit to the community and the volunteer; be of the volunteer's own free will and without coercion; be for no financial gain to the employee; be within the community the employee lives in or the East Kimberley; and be consistent with Rio Tinto's The Way We Work and values.

Bankwest

The Bankwest Volunteering Program is one way to meet its goal of making a difference in the communities in which it operates. Bankwest encourages volunteering activities to give its people the opportunity to actively contribute to their community through supporting registered charities and not-for-profit organisations. All employees (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:

  • Eight hours of Volunteering Leave per year.
  • Access to approved volunteering projects through a number of volunteering partners: Volunteering WA, United Way WA, Australian Business and Community Network.
  • Volunteering can also take place in any registered not-for-profit organisation that meets certain criteria.
  • Volunteering can take place in work or outside work hours.
  • Each application to participate in a volunteering activity must be approved by the relevant line manager.
  • The line manager must assess the potential risks of the activity prior to approving it. The Occupational Health and Safety team is available to discuss with line managers the process they need to follow in carrying out a risk assessment.

Deloitte

The Deloitte Foundation is Deloitte Australia's vehicle for giving back to the community.

Employees may be granted one day (7.5 hours) of paid leave at their current base salary rate each year to participate in voluntary work with one of the firm's approved community partners.

Paid leave may be granted on each occasion that an employee is called upon to undertake official State Emergency Services duty providing they are not required for essential Deloitte operations. Additionally, employees may be granted two days of paid leave each year to attend training associated with their voluntary State Emergency Services status.

Employees are entitled to two hours of paid blood donor leave per quarter. This leave is not cumulative and may not be carried over.

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