Most of my posts are written for the non-profit audience, but this month, I’m taking a different approach. I’d like to offer some tips to anyone who is (or could be) organizing group volunteering opportunities in their workplace – be it non-profit or for-profit work environment.
This May, Convio will host our 8th annual Convio Cares Days, where employees across the country take time off to support local non-profits. Here in DC we’ll be heading out to help American Rivers, The Congressional Cemetery, Food & Friends, and Miriam’s Kitchen. It’s a great chance to give back to our community and bond with our colleagues. A small team in the Convio office in DC has been setting everything up and I wanted to offer 5 tips on organizing an office volunteer event.
1. Make it Tangible – Look for volunteer opportunities that offer something tangible. Don’t just say, we’ll help save the earth or feed the hungry. Many people are motivated by before and after pictures of the 6 trees they helped plant or knowing they will serve lunch to 100 people. Find stories of people impacted by the organizations you are planning to serve to help motivate your colleagues.
2. Make it Different – We use our volunteer time in the DC Convio office for everything from bake sales to picking up river litter in a canoe. Not everyone enjoys the same kinds of activities. Make sure to offer a variety of options to help fit people’s interests. A quick survey on survey monkey can help you find out what kind of work people want to do.
3. Ask in Person – Go cubicle to cubicle and ask people to join you one-on-one. They might feel more comfortable asking you questions in a smaller setting and excited to sign up because of the personal ask. Also, don’t forget that most people don’t like to sign a blank sheet, so make sure to have an early adopter sign up first.
4. Get Organized – I know it’s very basic, but people really like a well-organized activity. Send them an outlook appointment to block the time, organize a carpool to and from the event, tell folks you’ll provide the sunscreen, food prep gloves or other supplies they will need.
5. Celebrate – Last week, we had empanadas and slide show of photos from last year’s efforts to help motivate people to sign up. We were able to fill 16 shifts with the kick off party. In late May, we’ll share photos on flickr and have an ice cream social to share our stories and pictures with each other. Be sure to thank everyone who participates.
Remember, just because your workplace doesn’t offer a coordinated event like this right now, doesn’t mean you can’t get something started. It never hurts to ask!