How to Make Volunteerism a Firm-Wide Goal

J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP
Posted on: 03/28/19
Written by: J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP

photo-1441716844725-09cedc13a4e7Millennials want to give back to their communities and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Are you interested in getting your architecture or engineer firm more involved in the community, but not sure how and where to start? 

Use the following seven steps as a model for building a voluntary service program, as provided by David C. Forward, author of Heroes After Hours: Extraordinary Acts of Employee Volunteerism.

  1. Identify your purpose. Be honest. Why use the company’s financial and personnel resources to promote employee volunteerism? Is it to enhance the corporate image, to stimulate employee morale, to address problems in the community that disturb you? There are no right or wrong answers here. But if you don’t identify your motivation for creating this program, you are asking for trouble later on.

  2. Determine employee interest. Depending on whether you plan to launch the program in a limited way, such as with one department or geographic location on a trial basis, or with all departments starting the volunteer program simultaneously, you need to sample employee interest first.

  3. Establish the structure of your volunteer effort. Who is going to set up this new program? An outside consultant? You? Once established, will it fall under the aegis of human resources? Community affairs? Public relations? Or are you small enough for it to report directly to you? The Points of Light Foundation ( research shows that department managers responsible for employee volunteerism initiatives spend on average 20 percent of their time managing the program. Do you have an extra 20 percent of each day you could give to help the project grow?

  4. Define your corporate commitment. The two “M’s” here are management and money. Studies of employee volunteer groups nationwide indicate an extremely strong link between employee morale and the participation in service projects by top management. Will your company include corporate and employee volunteerism as a goal in its mission statement? Has senior management approved the budget and made the financial commitment to support the company’s program.

  5. Determine your community’s needs. Talk to your local volunteer center. They are rich sources of information on community needs. If there is no such agency in your town, try the Chamber of Commerce; the Rotary, Jaycees, or Lions Clubs; the Boy or Girl Scouts; or leaders of the places of worship. Do not forget two excellent sources of information for community needs: the local newspaper and your employees.

  6. Establish employee volunteer recognition activities. Employees rarely list “recognition” as one of the reasons why they volunteer. Yet a photograph in the staff newsletter showing them volunteering can be a source of pride.

  7. Decide how to evaluate success. The most common way to evaluate the success of a volunteer service project is to ask participants to complete a survey form. At the end of the year, you can compare that year with the overall objectives set at the start of the program. If you don’t have the time to do this, delegate this important task to an employee or community service consultant.

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This article is an excerpt from the book, Lattes, Puppies, and Unlimited Vacation:  Attracting, Retaining, and Empowering Millennial Design Firm Professionals.

About the author: J. Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEED AP is a Partner and Executive Vice President with RMF Engineering, Inc., an engineering consulting firm that works internationally.


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