#VolunteersWeek is in its 35th year of celebrating volunteering, running from the 1st to the 7th June, a UK wide campaign ‘Time to Celebrate'. Last year's volunteering week had a total reach of 28.49 million, twitter 709.6 and #VolunteersWeek trended in the UK and worldwide 26k users.
The purpose of Volunteer week is:
- To celebrate and thank millions of volunteers and encourage more people to do the same
- Raise the profile of volunteering and the benefits for communities, individuals and organisations
- Increase participation particularly within organisations through employee programs
Fact - 38% of the UK population volunteer at least once a year – 22% volunteering at least once a month.
Why is volunteering important?
Volunteering is vital for many UK charities and local communities and the great news is as well as being great for many vital causes it is also is shown to improve volunteers' wellbeing too. It's human nature to feel good when you do something to help others. Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences and boost your confidence. So, volunteering is great all round and something we encourage our team to do.
Here is a factsheet that summaries official statistics:
Most common reasons for volunteering:
“I wanted to improve things/help people” – 46%
“The cause was really important to me” – 31%
For our CEO it has been about wanting to support causes and organisations that can make a positive difference in the world.
Most common barriers to volunteering:
“I have work commitments” – 51%
“I do other things in my spare time” – 37%
It is not just about setting up a volunteering program it needs to be supported by champions and help employees find the time from heavy workloads to take up the volunteering role.
Helping non-profits thrive – NFP Synergy key facts on volunteering include:
- The value of formal volunteering was estimated at £23.9bn in the UK in 2012
- The Gender Gap in volunteering has diminished with data from 2014-2016 showing similar numbers of men and women volunteering although there are differences in the kinds of volunteering undertaking
- The proportion of young people volunteering has increased with students in higher education being most likely to volunteer
- Over 21 million people formally volunteer in the UK at least one a year
- 9% of the adult population account for 51% of all volunteering hours
- Volunteering rates have remained relatively consistent over the past ten years
Corporations don't have to run volunteering schemes however, there are many good reasons to have such a scheme. A scheme that offers employees paid leave to spend on volunteering activities brings a great feel good effect for the employee, it has a positive effect on how employees feel about their employer, it supports many vital charities and meaningful communities' activities. Many corporations take a ‘responsible business' approach to their social impact, doing social good and more and more this is being seen as good for business.
More benefits to business:
It is a great way to develop people skills – skills in leadership, communication and presentations skills though to professional skills such as advising businesses and providing pro bono support and a great confidence boost.
- A great and viable alternative to other forms of employee development – a development opportunity in the community can be more beneficial than classroom learning and is usually more cost effective. Real life experiences.
- Builds employee engagement – volunteering fosters a sense of pride and satisfaction, and employees are appreciative of being given time off work to support their community.
- Helps improve brand and reputation – businesses must contribute to the communities in which they operate in order to be socially responsible with social purpose.
- Supports access to skills otherwise inaccessible to community organisations – many charities and community groups could never afford to pay for the skilled support they receive from the business community.
Click here if you would like to find out more about the data and work that Benefacto are doing to drive change.
From our experience it is important to help employees to chose suitable roles, have a clear policy in place and ensure the employees feel empowered to take up roles. It does require senior level support – we find if you just offer volunteering paid leave and let the employees find and take up the activities it doesn't happen. You need a champion.
Here at The Sourcing Team as a responsible business we believe it important to support our staff with paid volunteering time. There are so many meaningful and needy causes to support that our team care about. Imagine if every business both corporations and SMEs committed to paid leave for volunteering. Wow what an impact that could have!
We like to lead by example and as such our CEO has been volunteering since the business was established in 1996 – supporting our industry trade body the bpma, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, which has a charitable status, mentoring, speaker sessions to share insights on ethical sourcing and sustainability always thinking people and planet. In support of WEConnect International our CEO proposed and established a WBE (Women Business Enterprise) Council supporting the WEConnect Europe Team with the fantastic work they do as a Social Enterprise. Being a woman owned business, it is important we help others and act as ambassadors for supply chain gender diversity – it's something we are truly passionate about.
In addition to the work our CEO does, our other two Directors Becky and Sharon have also volunteered to support SEDEX on the advisory board, and both our CEO and Becky have supported the IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing) writing the diploma section on premium sourcing and Becky has been marking the diploma on sourcing for a number of years. Our Strategy Development Director is a school Governor, using her business skills and expertise to Chair the Site and Finance committee. One of our account managers Nick recently supported the ‘Colour Conference' which is global women's conference attended by thousands of women annually offering mentoring.
As this is very much about saying thank you and celebrating great work carried out by volunteers – our CEO would like to send a heartfelt thank you as Chair of the WBE Council – to the council who generously give their valuable time, skills and cover their costs to meet regularly in order to drive the #supplychaindiversity. Thank you to Miriam Dervan, Karen Hayes, Sarah Davis, Farida Gibbs, Shelley Hoppe, Lara Morgan, Elizabeth Lehnich, Dana Denis-Smith, Corinne Frydman and Clare Hill your expertise and time is truly valued.
Aside from the feel-good factor for the individuals volunteering and the obvious benefits to the causes – there is a good business case for establishing a volunteering program:
- It brings employee engagement
- It demonstrates a business is doing good, cares about local and global causes not just profit
- It is good for a brand/company's reputation and great way of sharing PR
- It is great for team building
- It supports recruitment of new employees wanting to work for a company with purpose
For many organisations their employee volunteering programme forms part of the business community and social good strategy, in many cases this forms a key part of the corporate reporting on how the organisation is putting back, the great work they are doing and how they are helping communities both locally and globally.
Many of our clients engage in such programs and often we are providing promotional products to support teams, individuals and global activities. Branded merchandise is often used for team uniforms and other collateral used in workshops, outreach activities etc.
Below are some ideas of promotional products used for Volunteering events:
Collection Buckets, Promotional Jackets and Tabards
Cashless Donations using NFC enabled merchandise
Volunteering Promotional Merchandise Giveaway Ideas: FSC certified Pencils, Backpacks made from Recycled PET, Pin Badges made from recycled plastic, Promotional Sports Bottle, Sustainable Pens, Notebook...
Don't forget if you are doing amazing work in the community, volunteering programs etc. look for awards to go for like the Responsible Business Awards and share the great work your employees and organisation are doing – spread the word and drive engagement!
Can you start a volunteering program? Think about the impact we can make together, if every business large or small had a volunteering program – local causes, communities and charities need our help!
If we can help in anyway, we'd love to hear from you. Whether you want to talk about our experience, need help with some connections or, indeed if you want to support existing activity with ethical, sustainable branded merchandise – we'd love to hear from you. Contact Gill Thorpe click here …
Here are some other useful links!