Developing a volunteer culture

Fostering volunteer spirit within your organisation can motivate employees and simultaneously provide an opportunity to effect positive social change in the community.
James Marshall, managing director of 3M New Zealand, told Volunteering Waikato meeting in Hamilton recently that there are four essential requirements for establishing successful volunteer programme in any organisation. They are:
* goals,
* top management support,
* measurement,
* recognition.
“It is important to consider the objectives for promoting volunt-eerism and to continually refer back to them,” says Marshall.
You also have to ask:
* Does the organisation want to be involved in community support?
* Does it want to increase employee morale?
* Is there an organisational desire to feel that it is making difference?
* Is the organisation looking to get financial payback as result of all of the above?
“It is also important the goals individual employees set for themselves match those of the organisation,” says Marshall.
“Once clear objectives are set, it is vital to have support from top management to help implement the programme and infiltrate the culture throughout all levels of the organisation.”
The next step in developing an effective volunteer programme is to enact systems to measure results – systems that can gauge community and employee reactions. The organisation should link economic successes back to volunteer initiatives in the community. It should also ensure that employees are taking the time to report on their successes and how they are meeting the set objectives.
Finally, Marshall believes recognition is critical to developing volunteering culture. Recognition can come through formal awards or informal mediums, such as team newsletters that reinforce the organisation’s support for voluntary efforts.
The move toward corporations developing volunteer programmes is an important step on the way to more sustainable business development practice, argues Marshall. The increasing use of the triple bottom line financial report internationally is likely to place an organisation’s attitudes toward social and environmental responsibilities under increasing stakeholder scrutiny.
But, says Marshall, it’s not just about being seen to be doing good.
“By making difference in local communities it is possible to make difference to the world in which we live.”

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