How to Start a Volunteer Program at Work

By Mali Anderson in Helping Hands

If you are interested in helping others and building relationships within your community, you might want to know how to start a volunteer program at work. Workplaces are often looking for ways to strengthen connections between team members, and volunteer programs are an ideal way to promote goodwill and boost camaraderie.


Find a Cause for You and Your Team


Depending on the size of the organization you work for, there may already be company volunteer opportunities or a program in place. Talk to your supervisor, human resources representative, or outreach coordinator about your plans to build a volunteer program.

If you are building a program from scratch, start by finding an organization you want to partner with. Ask about what they have achieved in the past and how your volunteer group can help them with their mission.


When launching a volunteer program, the cause could connect with company goals, but it doesn't have to. There are times when the best match is supporting a local initiative. If you aren't sure how to pick a charity or organization, consider the following:


  • Company mission. Volunteer opportunities that align with a company's vision can be a motivating factor for your volunteer team. For example, an educational company could volunteer for a tutoring program.
  • Local community initiatives. Workplaces are part of a larger community, whether your company has one office location or multiple. So, initiatives in your local community could inspire your workplace volunteer program. Improving the welfare of a community is in everyone's best interest.
  • Scheduling obligations. A team that is available in the morning could visit with animals at a local shelter before logging in for their workday. Or, volunteer events could be followed by a team building activity, such as a company-wide picnic after a beach, park, or river clean-up.


If the cause is one that many team members care about, and if the scheduled volunteer times make it easy for coworkers to fit into their days, you'll be able to encourage more colleagues to get involved.


Volunteer pets a dog up for adoption.


Talk to Leadership


Being well organized from the start helps when navigating how to start a volunteer program at work. During the planning phase, put together a proposal to share with leadership. The proposal should highlight the cause you are championing, how that mission connects with the culture of your workplace, and what the program will accomplish for your company. Those pros may include:


  • Engagement. Team volunteering gives employees time to build positive relationships.
  • Employee retention. Individuals who support employer social responsibility want to work for organizations who give back.
  • Commitment. Helping others can boost our own happiness and fulfillment, so volunteer programs may increase employees' appreciation and commitment to their work.


A woman collecting garbage from a beach.


Encourage Team Participation


Once you have the support of leadership, take the following steps to share the information in your proposal with coworkers to help encourage sign-ups.


  • Communicate widely. Announce volunteer opportunities via email, company-wide messaging platforms, and verbally within meetings.
  • Share visuals. Images or videos of past volunteer projects can magnify interest. Also, the organization you are partnering with may have an infographic or report that illustrates volunteer impact.
  • Provide options. Be sure to have a variety of volunteer roles available. That way, individuals can share their current talents or explore new areas of interest.
  • Organize transportation. Ask for a volunteer to organize carpools to encourage participation.
  • Celebrate. After the event, recognize the team's volunteer efforts with personal thank-you notes, shout-outs in company communications, or appreciation days.


Are you ready to start a volunteer program at work? Check out the @tomsofmaine Natural Inspiration Pinterest board for more ideas on how to give back.


Image Source: Pexels | Pexels | Pexels


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Why It's Good

Starting a volunteer program at work is a great way to give back to your community, support causes you believe in, and motivate your coworkers. With a bit of planning, you can make a difference and boost workplace relationships in the process.