We’re getting ready to send some of our employees out to volunteer at a local homeless shelter. Others will be going to the food bank to pack boxes for shipment. We’ll probably also send folks to a senior center to help them stuff envelopes for their annual fund-raising appeal.
We pay our employees 40 hours a year to go out and volunteer at these agencies because it’s part of our Main Street values to Do good. Be good. Make good.
But the truth is, there’s a whole lot more to it.
Yes, we’re involved in this because we believe passionately that it’s the right thing for a corporate citizen to do. We’ve done well as a company and we want to share our success with our neighbors.
That’s really only a part of why we, and our employees, get involved in volunteering, though.
Part of the reason we get our teammates to go out and pack food boxes or help prepare meals for the homeless is that, although nonprofits need cash contributions, they also simply can’t survive without donated human labor, too.
And while we donate money, there really is only so much to go around. So we can give even more by literally lending a helping hand.
Still, there are other great reasons to volunteer, either by an individual or by a company, and they don’t all have to be altruistic.
Yes, we want to help others, make a difference, connect with the community.
But we also want to find a purpose, develop new skills, meet new people and maybe even boost our resume. These are among some of the reasons that the organization Volunteer Match lists for volunteering with nonprofits. And they’re all perfectly valid reasons.
At the company level, sending a group of teammates out to a nonprofit to paint at the local pet shelter or build a few walls on a Habitat for Humanity project has undeniable benefits back at the office.
We so often get reports back from our own teams about how individuals got to know one another better in the different work environment. It has the effect of bringing the team closer together and improving their work back on the job.
There’s plenty of research that supports the benefits of volunteering for entry-level employees, middle managers and senior executives. Brad Jamison, a consultant and former corporate social responsibility executive, writes about volunteering, what he calls service.
“We have an opportunity to use service as a development tool in corporate America, and now is the time to act,” he wrote recently.
We couldn’t agree more. Giving employees the tools to volunteer in the community carries so many benefits that it just makes good business sense to us. We build our brand by sending folks out in T-shirts with our logo. And we build our business by welcoming them back with a renewed dedication to their teammates and to our purpose-filled, mission-driven cause.