You want to volunteer and give back to your community, of course. You just don’t have the time. Ditto on the lack of time for socializing with your coworkers outside of the office (and maybe meeting that new guy in your marketing department). If you’re feeling this way, chances are the rest of the employees at your company are too.
A companywide day of volunteer service presents unexpected benefits for employee engagement, in addition to the more obvious benefits of giving back and showing your company’s support for specific communities. An annual day of “good” brings employees together to build relationships and get to know each other. It introduces employees to volunteer opportunities, and it reaffirms a company’s existing partnerships with service organizations.
All these points aside, companywide volunteerism can become unwieldy and difficult to manage. Here are a few hard-earned lessons from Viacom’s annual day of service— Viacommunity Day—to ensure a smooth and effective company day of service.
Be on Top of Logistics
In the bustle of implementing a program, small logistical details can often be overlooked. However these can make the difference between an outstanding volunteerism day and one that barely gets its feet off the ground. Start early and make sure to go through every aspect of the day. Have a plan for how people register for programs, transportation to volunteer sites and meals. Work with organizations to plan meaningful activities for volunteers, and make sure that employees have access to a clear and functional registration website.
Build Your Brand
No one will participate in a volunteerism day they don’t know about. Over-communicate with employees. Though you may feel like you’re bombarding people with messages, they’ve probably missed many of your emails. To get employees’ attention, find alternate way to get the word out and get people energized—such as social media, events, contests and prizes. For example, you can throw a pre-party for the day in a cafeteria or conference room, or host a fair for participating organizations to present available opportunities. Giveaways are always a draw; at Viacom we’ve used everything from wristbands to sunglasses.
Employees should feel like they have a stake in the day and their projects. Create ownership in volunteer projects by asking employees to nominate participating organizations. Appoint project captains who can oversee the day’s program and rally involvement. Incentives also get people involved. This year, Viacom held a social media contest with a special prize awarded to the project that tweeted and posted the most. Employees took the contest to the next level, seizing the chance to share their stories and images with colleagues around the world.
As we say in our industry: it’s all about building relationships. A volunteerism day builds those relationships inside and out—among employees, with your company and in your community.
Lenore Feder works to connect media and entertainment, communications, internal engagement and social impact. As the Director of Communications & Corporate Responsibility at Viacom, Lenore is responsible for communications around all of Viacom’s social responsibility efforts, and the engagement of audiences both internally and externally. She also develops and executes the strategic marketing communications plan to further the strategy and business priorities of Viacommunity, Viacom’s company-wide commitment to corporate responsibility and social impact.address.