If your not-for-profit suffers from a chronic volunteer shortage or has had to put off large projects for lack of helping hands, corporate volunteers can be a boon. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 47% of companies offer a community volunteer program for employees. Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose has found that large companies are even more likely to sponsor volunteer activities: 61% offer paid-release time volunteer programs or a structured corporate volunteer program.

blonde woman in a turquoise shirt volunteering with multiple children; image used for a blog about not-for-profit corporate volunteers

Teaming up with a well-known company can also raise your not-for-profit’s profile with potential donors and the media. And employees who participate may decide to become permanent volunteers or financial supporters.

Finding a Match
The best volunteer partnerships generally are those where the not-for-profit’s mission and the company’s core business correlate. For example, an athletic clothing manufacturer is a perfect match for an afterschool soccer league.

Many businesses seek one-day volunteer opportunities that can accommodate all of their employees. If your organization is painting the walls of schools, serving free meals to the needy or setting up for a fundraising event, short-term assistance from an army of volunteers can be a lifesaver.

However, you shouldn’t create work where it doesn’t exist, particularly if coming up with activities or managing volunteers will put a strain on staff resources. Also be wary when companies offer volunteers on short notice. To be successful, corporate volunteer days take planning. For example, you may need to arrange such logistical details as meals or prepare training instructions and educational materials.

Other Opportunities
If you must turn down eager corporate volunteers, do so carefully. Explain how the offer may, in fact, cost your not-for-profit time and money. Then propose other volunteer opportunities.

Group volunteer days aren’t the only way to take advantage of employees who want to help. Many companies provide paid time for staff to volunteer for the charity of their choice. Other companies make financial contributions to organizations where employees volunteer.

Getting Help
To find companies with volunteer programs, check with the Points of Light Foundation (pointsoflight.org), VolunteerMatch (volunteermatch.org) or regional groups. Once you have a corporate partner, make sure you dedicate time to building the relationship. Think beyond a one-day volunteer event and try to gain an ongoing commitment, such as quarterly — and possibly some financial support, too.