The Importance of Giving Back and the Business Case for Volunteering

posted on Monday, April 1, 2024 in Grow Cedar Valley

The Cedar Valley is a magical place. For those of us that were born and raised here, we might not see it as easily, but I have heard countless stories from those who moved here who are blown away by our community’s unique collaborative spirit.  A spirit that ensures there are opportunities for all by addressing barriers, as well as improving the quality of life in our community through vibrant recreation and lifestyle opportunities.

Currently we are in what I like to fondly call Nonprofit Event Season in the Cedar Valley.  Almost every week you can find a worthy cause to support. The Grow Cedar Valley team attended this week’s Cedar Valley United Way Breakfast of Champions where they announced their 2024 campaign raised $2,280,526 to help fund 40 nonprofits and 63 different programs in the Cedar Valley! And be sure to check our event calendar for additional opportunities:

It is easy to see the impact our nonprofits and volunteers have on this community.  Some recent impactful projects that come to my mind include: Cedar Falls Place to Play Park, Boys & Girls Club Teen Center, Waterloo Veteran’s Way Art & History Walk, 24/7 Blac: Black Business & Entrepreneur Accelerator, and so many more! Undoubtedly each of these projects has a positive economic impact, but most importantly it impacts your company’s greatest asset – people. 

So have you ever considered the business case for employers to support volunteerism? As an HR professional, I’ve learned that one proven way to engage and attract employees is through their sense of passion and purpose. 

Did you know…

  • Employees are five times more engaged in companies with employee volunteer programs (getconnected July 2022)
  • 58% of employees want to work for a company that advocates for causes they care about personally (Spherion 2019)
  • 61% of millennials consider a company’s commitment to the community when making a decision on a potential job. (The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey)
  • 79% of people report lower stress levels after volunteering, while 93% report an improvement in their moods. (Doing Good is Good for You, United Healthcare)

Businesses should actively encourage and support their employees to engage in volunteering activities for a myriad of reasons, including:

  • Fostering a culture of volunteerism within the workforce not only enhances the company's reputation but also strengthens its ties with the community. When employees are given the opportunity to volunteer, whether it's through organized initiatives or personal endeavors, they become ambassadors for the company's values and commitment to social responsibility. This not only boosts employee morale and loyalty but also attracts like-minded individuals who are passionate about giving back to society.
  • Volunteering experiences often impart valuable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and empathy, which can be transferred back into the workplace, contributing to enhanced productivity and a more cohesive work environment.
  • Volunteering opportunities provide employees with a chance to broaden their networks, both professionally and personally, which can lead to new business opportunities and collaborations.
  • Participating in community projects allows employees to gain a deeper understanding of societal issues and challenges, which can inform the company's corporate social responsibility strategies and contribute to more informed decision-making.
  • Companies that actively support volunteering often enjoy higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention, as employees feel a stronger sense of purpose and fulfillment when they are empowered to make a positive impact beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.

If your business is interested in starting an employee volunteer program, here are some basic steps to help you get started:

1.) Determine what fits with your business – consider time available, financial commitment, and which nonprofits align with your organization’s values.  Here are examples of varying volunteer programs your business can consider:

  • Promote volunteer or engagement opportunities to employees
  • Allow paid time off for volunteering
  • Encourage employees to participate in a nonprofit Board of Directors or task force
  • Corporate match of employee nonprofit donations
  • Corporate paid memberships in civic organizations
  • Direct volunteer opportunities organized by the business
  • Skills-based volunteering consistent with your industry (i.e. accounting, marketing, construction, etc.)

2.) Set goals and measurables for the program – be sure to also consider impact on employee recruitment and retention.

3.) Create partnerships with nonprofits in the community.  Here are some potential resources:

4.) Share the program publicly – this strengthens employee retention, attracts potential applicants, and brings awareness to the organization’s brand and its nonprofit partners.

There are so many ways to give back and it doesn’t have to be only with time and financial support - it can be fun and easy too! Consider volunteering for a shift at Cedar Valley IrishFest to show off your Cedar Valley hospitality to visitors (aka potential workforce), or attending the House of Hope ball and sharing it on social media to spread awareness, or ringing the bell for the Salvation Army with coworkers.  My most recent volunteer activity happened this Monday over my lunch hour when the Exchange Club of Waterloo invited the public to tie blue ribbons around trees as April is child abuse prevention awareness month. 

Overall, integrating volunteering into your corporate culture not only benefits the community but also yields long-term advantages for your business, making it a win-win proposition for all involved. When business and community come together, magic happens!

Sandi Sommerfelt, VP Operations