Volunteerism can be described as the backbone of America.
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But volunteerism is also playing an increasingly important role in many small businesses. As a socially-minded entrepreneur, promoting volunteerism falls on your shoulders. Here's how to do it . . .
The truth is that there is no magic formula for promoting volunteerism in your company. Increasing your employees' volunteer participation in the community is a process that requires consistent focus and effort. Although your efforts to promote volunteerism may take a variety of forms, there are a few bases you will need to cover throughout the process.
Be a Role Model
The surest way to thwart volunteerism in your business is to encourage it in others, but not actually do it yourself. Some business owners rationalize their personal lack of volunteering based on time constraints. But the reality is that your employees face similar time constraints, and unless you make volunteerism a priority in your life it's unlikely you will have much success in persuading them to make it a priority in theirs.
Prospective volunteers often never get off the starting block simply because they lack information about specific volunteer opportunities in the local community. As a business owner, you have a unique ability to consistently inform your employees about volunteer opportunities, preferably in a cause you feel passionate about. To make the volunteering decision as non-threatening as possible, you may want to consider organizing opportunities for individuals to volunteer alongside their coworkers.
Demonstrate Genuine Need
Nothing motivates people to volunteer more than the demonstration of genuine need. When you create volunteer opportunities through your company, don't settle for posting a flyer on the bulletin board in the staff room. Instead, invite representatives from the nonprofit community to address your staff on the importance of volunteering and (if possible) encourage them to introduce some of their clients to your workers. You should also talk with the nonprofits who will receive your volunteers to make sure your employees will have access to meaningful volunteer opportunities.
As volunteering becomes more firmly entrenched in your company ethos, it will become easier to create buzz about it in your business. In a best case scenario, you employees will actually generate buzz themselves. Until that happens, it's your responsibility to do whatever you can to keep volunteering on the forefront of your company's consciousness. Signs around the office, articles in the company newsletter, a section in the annual report – anything you can do to draw attention to the importance of volunteering will pay dividends to your promotional efforts.
Recognize and Reward Volunteers
Most companies recognize and reward exceptional employees. But what would happen if you also made a decision to recognize and reward your company's volunteers? You could even get creative about it and initiate contests or other incentives to motivate your staff and increase their volunteer participation.