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Alicia_Schmidt
Community Manager
Community Manager
VP, Member Impact, Pledge 1%

Once your goals are set and your program structure is established, it’s time to focus on engagement. There are several strategies you can use to leverage the relationships and structures within your company to strengthen your volunteering programs. We’ve seen tremendous creativity and success around incentive models and other modes of empowering individuals to take ownership and drive impact.

 

Photo credit: Atlassian Foundation.Photo credit: Atlassian Foundation.
Here are several best practices recommended by Pledge 1% members to further engage employees:

  • Establish an employee ambassador program 
  • Engage employee resource groups (ERGs)
  • Build a new hire volunteer program
  • Develop incentive models
  • Encourage employee-powered engagements: WePledge 1%

Establish an employee ambassador program

 

If your team is spread across different locations, consider setting up a volunteer ambassador and engagement framework. This structure can facilitate strategic alignment and localized implementation, ensuring effective focus across regions.

 

Many companies will create a committee or squad of ambassadors who work together to come up with ideas and share best practices, but are empowered to find local opportunities. It’s up to this type of group to decide if your staff should support different causes and organizations, or focus on a select set of partners.

 

Establishing a Global Ambassador Program or Employee Council not only engages employees in leadership and provides the opportunity to diversify their experiences, but helps program staff roll out, manage, and execute company-wide giving programs, especially when company employees and offices are located in multiple regions across states and countries.

If your team is too small for an ambassador program or council at its current stage, we recommend instead nominating an “Impact Captain” from your employee base to rally the team and oversee events.


How to start a global ambassador program

 

  • Establish clear impact program descriptions, guidelines, and goals you’d like global employee volunteer ambassadors to support.

 

  • Create general roles and responsibilities for global employee volunteer ambassadors (see sample below). Tip: Create a name for the global employee volunteer ambassador program that fits your company’s brand and culture. This helps the program have an identity and those involved feel like they belong to something important!

 

  • Recruit and identify employees to serve as ambassadors by connecting with those who are most passionate and committed to the company impact goals and vision. This can be done through a formal application process, peer nomination by office/region, simple email communication or official program staff can personally select employees to serve in this role.

 

  • Use the sample global ambassador application if you go the application route. Consider your full company footprint and ensure a structure that is inclusive and enables representation across teams, geographies, demographics, leadership levels and remote teams.

 

  • Organize a first meeting to present your social impact strategy and encourage employees from all locations to join in virtually if you are not in person. Set a team charter for the committee and establish priorities for the group. Consider creating smaller committees or groups based on interest or location.

 

  • Recognize employees that serve as ambassadors before, during and after the program. This can be done through an email blast to the company, a small gift (small donation on their behalf to their favorite nonprofit organization) or an employee appreciation award. Recognizing an employee for their efforts is not only a kind gesture, but goes a long way in cultivating champions for your program and building a culture of community stewardship.

 
What are ambassador responsibilities?

Global Ambassador role, responsibilities and experience examples:

 

Role & Responsibilities

 

  • Serve X month/year term. (Note: Suggest staggered ambassador membership dates so that there is continuous experience/leadership at any one time.)
  • Attend planning meetings X times per week/month or when necessary. These meetings will generally last no longer than one hour. At the meeting, members will review projects, provide updates, and determine next steps for executing plans in their respective region.
  • Participate and actively take part in managing selected projects. Global Ambassadors will help organize and direct projects in respective regions, as well as plan and manage recognition, tracking and communication within the region and to [X Company Foundation].
  • Celebrate the success of volunteer projects with employees and the community.
  • Share with others their enthusiasm for satisfaction from volunteering.

 

Experience

  • Worked at [X Company] for over X [month/year].

 

Engage employee resource groups (ERGs)

 

It’s critical to build your strategy on interests and passions that already exist among employees. Tap into Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) such as Green Teams, LGBTQ+, or Black, Asian, or LatinX groups to access diverse perspectives and create opportunities for collaboration.

 

Think about how ERGs can leverage their networks to support each other, educate other employees, and address social issues. There may also be opportunities aligned with affinity days/months like Black History Month or International Women’s Day.

 

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Build a new hire volunteer program

 

Establishing a new hire volunteer program not only engages new employees and builds camaraderie amongst new hire cohorts, but also instills your company's values from Day 1.

Here are a few suggestions to build out a new hire volunteer program:

 

Determine frequency and points of engagement for new hire volunteers.

Do you hold a new hire orientation on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis? Depending on the quantity of new hires and management support available, you can organize a volunteer event on a weekly basis or roll-up all new hires to volunteer in larger groups at a monthly or quarterly level.

 

Work with People Operations/HR Team to integrate volunteer components.

Consult with the internal team managing new hire orientation/onboarding and identify a lead to manage the logistics of the volunteer component (schedule, travel, etc.).

 

Identify nonprofit partners.

It is important to identify nonprofit organizations that can easily and regularly accommodate volunteers on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Nonprofits like food banks, soup kitchens, and animal shelters rely on regular support and usually offer turn-key opportunities for large volunteer groups. Establishing a relationship with the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator is key, as this will help with scheduling activities on a regular basis.

 

Communicate, follow up, and get feedback.

In addition to organizing a volunteer event, include information about your company’s philanthropic initiatives at new hire orientation and/or in materials. This will provide a bigger picture about your company’s community involvement and deeper context around the specific engagement. After the volunteer event, send a brief survey to inform next steps.

 

 Develop incentive models

 

Incentives may be helpful in maximizing your efforts and advancing your organization’s social impact goals. These incentives can manifest in various forms, from contests and matching programs to opportunities for professional development.

 

Dollars for Doers

Gamification

Awards

A dollars for doers policy is a great way to match employees’ volunteer hours with a financial contribution. These programs are implemented in place of, or in addition to, matching gift programs.

 

Here’s one example: Company X matches $1000 for every 100 hours a team member volunteers and tracks.

 

The structure of your program will depend on your company size and the resources and capital you can commit. There isn’t a single right answer and you can get creative around meaningful ways to encourage, recognize, and reward volunteerism while tracking and driving usage of a VTO program. We recommend encouraging teams to work with their HR partners to build these incentives into total rewards budgets so the volunteer incentive programs can scale as the company grows and not draw down the .org or foundation charitable funds.

Sparking friendly competition between teams or departments and allowing the winning group to allocate funds to a nonprofit of their choice can be a winning strategy. Depending on your company culture, gamifying your approach to volunteerism could motivate employees to participate at higher levels and engage deeply.

 

Rock Content gamified their Global Week of Service by dividing employees into teams, carefully selecting team leaders committed to a high level of communication and engagement before, during, and after the week, and promoting healthy competition among participants.

 

Here are a few tips on how to structure an event like this:

  • Create a way to rank or give points
  • Define missions (employees have to feel like it’s a game), accomplish things, and move forward—choose an amount that they will feel like never stopping.
  • Define awards for the winning team (e.g. $1K to donate for the nonprofit)
  • Show teams their effort (via online platform or other shared visual representation) and how important it was
Many companies establish quarterly or monthly awards for outstanding employee volunteers. You may also consider recognizing employees who sign up early, show commitment by participating frequently with a single organization, or register for the most events across a certain period of time. 

 

 

Encourage employee-powered engagements: WePledge 1%

 

WePledge 1% brings the Pledge 1% movement to employees and empowers individuals to build positive change in their communities and around the world by pledging to contribute 1% of their personal time, financial resources, or both to do good. Twilio has open-sourced their WePledge 1% approach and partnered with Pledge 1% to share their learnings and best practices with all Pledge 1% members.

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ABOUT WEPLEDGE 1%

 

Who? 

WePledge 1% is for leaders who are accountable for shaping workplace culture, promoting employee engagement or selecting employee benefits, yet find themselves without enough time, budget, or headcount to design a volunteer and giving program that can meaningfully drive employee engagement and retention.

 

What? 

WePledge 1% is a volunteer impact and giving program in which employees pledge to give 1 percent of their own time, income, or equity (or a combo) to causes that resonate with them. Created by Twilio and inspired by Pledge 1%, the program makes employees a more central part of a company’s social impact strategy by mobilizing employees to use their unique interests and passions to drive social change. By joining WePledge 1%, company leaders gain access to a toolkit, ongoing support, and a practitioner network that makes it easier to initiate or improve their employee impact program at no cost to them. Inaugural members include: Atlassian, OKTA, Twilio, and Zoom.

 

How? 

We invite leaders like you to join executives at like-minded companies such as Asana and Headspace in joining the Launch Cohort of WePledge 1%. Companies with an employee impact and giving program have 2.3x the employee retention rate 1 than those without one.

 

Implementing WePledge 1% at your company is a proven tactic that reinforces a company’s stated values and delivers employees consistent opportunities to connect in inspiring and purpose-driven ways.

 

IMMEDIATE BENEFITS

 

Since Twilio created WePledge 1% in 2019, more than 2,000 Twilio employees have signed onto and activated WePledge 1% and employees report the following benefits:

  • It’s flexible. Employees report that with the WePledge 1% program it is easy to commit to doing good - in a way that works for them - be it through time, finances, or skills.

  • It’s empowering. Employees feel empowered by the freedom of choice that WePledge 1% offers them. Once they commit 1%, they are empowered to decide how to fulfill their commitment, whether by supporting causes they care about or engaging in activities organized by their companies, whether by supporting causes they care about or engaging in activities organized by their companies.

  •  It’s meaningful. With the WePledge 1% program, employees can support an issue or cause because it resonates to them most.

  • It’s impactful. Within one year of launching the WePledge 1% program, Twilio engaged over 50% of employees in the program!