Photos by Namrata Sehgal

A few weeks ago, I got an opportunity to be a guest speaker at a round table discussion conducted by Bhumi, an independent youth volunteer nonprofit organization based in India, on ‘Building Community Resilience Through Employee Volunteering’. It focused on sharing views on reshaping the volunteer ecosystem in India. The participants included corporate CSR representatives and domain experts from Mumbai, India.

It’s significant to note how volunteering opportunities can engage employees from different sectors with diverse skill sets and backgrounds to support social issues. The biggest challenge that most nonprofits face today is how to engage volunteers long-term. During the discussion, one of the most significant points that emerged was ‘holiday with purpose’, an excellent way to engage employees in volunteering while providing them with a meaningful and rewarding experience. It is easy to involve employee volunteers in one-time activities, but we must ideate and design recurring volunteering events to create a significant impact.

Key learnings:

  • We must translate larger goals into small actions and help volunteers to cumulate their engagement towards the most pressing development issues. 
  • Sensitization and interaction go a long way! When volunteers notice the change (be it small) due to their efforts, it motivates them to return to support the cause. Volunteers feel encouraged to support a cause they relate to. 
  • Encourage volunteers to engage with the community. Regular interactions with the community can identify the needs and help focus efforts on areas that need the most attention. 
  • Provide employee volunteers with training and resources to help them make the most of their volunteering experience. It can include information on community needs, skills training and resources that help them connect with local organizations. 
  • Recognize and reward their efforts. It can include publicly recognizing their contributions, offering incentives, additional time off, etc. 
  • Building long-term partnerships with local organizations and community leaders can help ensure that volunteer efforts have a lasting impact. It can include providing continued support and resources and working together to address the challenges prevalent in the community.