Volunteer at my company? Many of you are thinking, “How can I think about volunteering on the job? I can barely make deadlines. Plus, work is work. I’ve got to make my sales quota, finish that legal brief, or respond to my bosses 60 emails which just came in this morning.”
It\’s time to reassess! Volunteering is alive and acceptable in companies all across the world. Over 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer programs and 60 percent of small and midsize companies (less than 250 people) also offer volunteer benefits.
You might already be an extreme volunteer. That’s someone who gives back every week. Or maybe you’re someone who goes on frequent trips abroad to understand different countries and the challenges they face there. But did you know that you can actually volunteer on company time? There are many ways to incorporate giving back into the workday.
Before you make a judgment on volunteering in the workplace, let\’s look at the benefits. There are more than you can imagine! Ready? Let’s jump in to The Benefits of Volunteering on Company Time.
- You Can Get Money
What does that mean? The company is going to pay me to volunteer? Well, in a way it\’s true! Many companies have “Dollars for Doers” programs whereby when you are a “doer” and volunteer, your company will then provide a grant or donate to your chosen NGO.
I wouldn’t want to miss helping my favorite nonprofit succeed. It helps the NGO attain more supporters. While you are giving of your time, you automatically get money for them.
Companies policies vary greatly. For example, Pfizer has a Dollars for Doers program provides $1,000 volunteer grants to organizations where employees volunteer for six hours per month for six consecutive months. At ExxonMobil, if you volunteer 20 hours you get $500, and at Microsoft you get $25 for every hour you volunteer.
- Build Relationships
You may say \”I already have enough relationships. I don’t have time for new friends!\” But building relationships goes across both friendships as well as professional relationships. Many people call this networking. I call it Relationship Building because I am not just interested in having a “network.” I want long-term relationships and seek to build them, driving towards deeper engagement. This is true on a friendship level, on a colleague level, or an actual business partnership.
By volunteering, new possibilities can arise. Maybe the person with whom you are volunteering with at work also has children. Your kids end up doing fun things together. Maybe it will be a new partnership in two months, or two years. You will meet a new cohort of people rather than staying concentrated in your business unit. This is a natural way for you to break out and meet people who can positively affect your life.
- Include Your Family
With so many families pressed for time, corporate volunteering can allow them to accomplish a number of things at once. Families who volunteer can help create awareness about those less fortunate, give back together, practice their family values, and share time together.
Volunteering as a family also allows you to see what it’s like in tougher areas of your community and the world. These experiences are great topics at the dinner table.
- Broaden Your Company Participation
If “getting ahead” is your main goal, then volunteering can be a great opportunity. Please keep in mind that we always want to be genuine in the reasons we volunteer; at the same time, it’s OK to volunteer if it helps in other ways.
Volunteering shows your company that you care about helping others. It shows you care about being involved in the business beyond your job description. When company leaders see an employee getting involved in ways that are not required, they are impressed. It could be one element that helps you accelerate your management track.
- Meet New Clients
What a fun way to meet new clients! Your business might offer volunteering in conjunction with another company. Even if a person from the other firm isn’t a potential client, he or she might know someone who is. Expand your network.
Volunteering is a great idea for business, family, and your own personal growth. Next time that work email arrives saying, “It’s time to volunteer!,” take a second look. Instead of thinking you don’t have time, maybe you’ll jump in, give back, and gain more.
Read this article on The Christian Science Monitor.