10 STEPS TO START AN EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERING PROJECT
This section features a step-by-step guide on how to organise a volunteering project for
employees. There is no one fixed way to planning the perfect project. Every company is
unique and different in the ways they manage the challenge of running a good EVP.
1. Identify Corporate Priorities
Read the corporate mission and know the corporate values well. Determine whether the
community project would assist in meeting the company’s objectives, or be aligned to
the organisation’s values.
2. Empower a Working Committee
Assemble a working committee to take charge of the different tasks of the project.
Designate a committee leader who will recruit other committee members. Having
representatives from all departments will help better execute the project and recruit
volunteers from all parts of the organisation. It is also important to get inputs from
different levels of the management.
Some companies have a steering committee comprising both top and middle
management to set the direction for the EVP, coupled with a working committee to plan
and implement community projects. Others create the EVP by tapping on the human
resource or staff welfare committee.
3. Obtain Management Support
Seek out key management personnel who are top decision-makers and can champion
the project. Top and middle management need to share the responsibility in
implementing the volunteering project and visibly show their support for the volunteering
efforts. Top management should be represented on the working committee and regular
reports should be sent to the management to update them and seek approval for the
4. Find Out What Employees Prefer
Come up with a survey that will help you assess the state of the current workplace. The
survey should give you information on the number and profile of the employees,
employees who are already active volunteers, what the employees’ interests and skills
are. For example, do they prefer working with the elderly or children? Search through
past volunteer activities/projects to help determine the interests of your employees.
Establish a databank of employees’ interests and skills.
5. Develop A Project Structure
Set the objectives, and draft the volunteering guidelines; identify and allocate resources;
and develop an ongoing volunteer recruitment strategy. Assess and set feasible targets
based on your available resources - manpower, financial constraints, time commitment
and company support in terms of in-kind or cash sponsorship.
No volunteering project can succeed without a budget to finance its activities. There are
costs involved, such as operational and logistical expenses, employee welfare
(transport and refreshments), and costs for project evaluation and volunteer recognition.
When organising a community project, particularly if it is for an outing or visit to places
of interest, the NPO would be expecting the company to pay for the expenses incurred,
hence, resources should be allocated to this.
Be creative. If you are planning for a fund-raising event, think of interesting ways to
raise more money. For example, leverage on the NPO’s existing fund-raising
programme with new twists like weight-loss project in which a pre-determined donation
amount is pledged for every kilogramme lost. Or have top management officers perform
certain stunts (for example, wear their secondary school uniform to work) if a specific
amount of funds is raised.
Outings are easily undertaken and can be within the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
Volunteers could accompany and assist seniors on grocery-shopping trips, or bring
them to the Lavender wholesale market, followed by a walk along Kallang River, down
6. Determine Community Needs and Finding a Partnering Organisation
Find out what are some of the immediate needs of the non-profit organisations. There
are many needs out there in the community, many of which don’t receive publicity in the
news. Companies can narrow down the selection based on its corporate
objectives/values, or employees’ interests and skills.
Apart from working with non-profit organisations, companies can also explore the
neighbourhood in which they are work in to see how they can meet the needs in their
Once you have identified a particular need, contact the prospective NPO to make sure
they can use your services. Agree upon the objectives, time, scope of the project, what
supplies are needed, the number of volunteers required and other critical project-
management activities. Visit the NPO to find out more about their cause and mission,
making sure it fits your company’s objectives or volunteering interests before committing
to the project.
7. Encourage Employees to Volunteer
Many employees can be shy when it comes to volunteering, thinking they do not have
the skills or knowledge to volunteer. Hold meetings to explain the project; post up flyers
and posters throughout your office; upload information on the company’s intranet; and
email to garner interests. Distribute a memo from top-level management to encourage
employees to participate and encourage top management to participate as well. You
can also invite NVPC or the selected NPO to give an introductory talk to your
employees to learn more about volunteering, as well as understand the cause they will
be volunteering for.
To help encourage employee participation, enlist volunteers for specific tasks; send
periodic pre-event updates; and circulate names of volunteers who have signed up – so
as to encourage fellow staff - using creative ways such as taped messages on computer
monitors or MSN messages. One of the simplest ways is go right up to your colleagues
and simply ask them to volunteer.
Be prepared that not 100% of the volunteers who sign up will turn up at the actual
event, and do not be too disappointed with the shortfall. Last-minute emergencies do
occur and some colleagues are workaholics who just cannot tear themselves from work
after all. Thus, always recruit approximately 20% more volunteers than what is needed.
8. Managing the Project and the Volunteers
Start small. Small projects see results very quickly and are easier to address teething
problems. Successful small projects can act as an impetus for bigger projects to follow
and they also give employees a good feeling when asked to volunteer for future
Before the volunteering work begins, invite your partnering NPO to give a pre-project
briefing to your volunteers to allay fears and set the right expectations. This is especially
important if your community project entails direct interaction with the beneficiaries and
even more so, if your beneficiaries belong to the vulnerable groups such as the
disabled, disadvantaged children (whose parents who are ex-offenders or suffering from
drug abuse), or seniors living alone.
Manage the expectations of the volunteers pertaining to the work required. They would
need to exercise care and maintain good conduct, respecting confidentiality and privacy
issues. Gently remind them that they will be seen as the company’s ambassadors, thus
they should be professional and adhere to the given job description. Punctuality is
important and the success of the project will depend on them turning up at the activity at
the agreed time.
For event-based activities, re-confirm the details with your partnering organisation.
Make sure you have wet weather contingencies in place if you are planning for outdoor
activities. Provide volunteers with clear instructions about event details. Ensure the risk-
management procedures such as insurance, first-aid kits and code of conduct briefings
are all in place.
To create a sense of identity, distribute T-shirts that are produced specially for
employee volunteers, or buttons for them to wear during the project. Plan to have a
photographer around to take pictures of your volunteers in action.
9. Recognise and Reward Volunteers
Plan a celebratory event following the project as soon as possible. You can recognise
volunteers with certificates of appreciation (preferably signed by the CEO or their direct
supervisors) or small tokens of appreciation. Highlight your volunteer activity in the
company’s website, newsletter and even in the annual report. Another form of
recognition is to allow the regular volunteers the opportunity to lead and initiate the next
volunteering project. Not only does this allow them to gain ownership of the initiative, it
underscores that the company values their contribution enough to make them leaders to
As an added gesture of appreciation, HSBC has its CEO present active volunteers with
Swatch watches symbolising ‘time for your time’ during the thank you event hosted by
the CEO9. From a thank-you dinner event to small gestures of appreciation, everyone
just needs that encouraging pat on the back.
Companies can submit photos and a write-up of their event to NVPC’s bi-monthly
magazine, SALT, for coverage.
10. Evaluate the Employee Volunteering Project
As part of your planning, think about how you would evaluate the success of your
volunteering project and the ways to measure the indicators of success. Set KPIs to
track the measure of your success. It is important to know what to measure before you
start so you can collect the right information along the way (such as the number of
participants and the number of people who benefited from the project). The evaluation
should state if your objectives were met; weigh the actions against the results achieved;
and highlight learning points from the experience.
Evaluation is a powerful tool for accountability and improving future projects. The
process of collecting feedback is an important stage of evaluation as it impacts the
quality and authenticity of the information collected. Qualitative feedback focusing on
volunteers’ experience can be done via interviews or debriefing, while quantitative
feedback on the project management can be done through surveys. Remember to
include feedback from the NPO as part of your evaluation process as well.
1. Identify 2. Empower 3. Obtain
corporate a working management
priorities committee support
4. Find out what 5. Develop a community needs and
employees prefer project structure find a partnering
7. Encourage 8. Managing
Render employees to the project and
volunteer the volunteers
9. Recognise 10. Evaluate the
Reflect and reward employee volunteering
The employee volunteering project can be extrapolated to form the structure of an
employee volunteering programme by formalising some of the steps as part of the
company’s corporate policy.