It is well recognised that volunteering through your workplace offers great benefits for the individual and the business. As a volunteer, you can develop new friendships, learn new skills and even feel happier and healthier. Volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day, here at CRM we made a commitment to employee volunteering in 2018 by offering our staff three hours per month to volunteer at a charity that means something to them.
The business benefits of volunteering
Although not the main reason many businesses get involved, volunteering has the potential to impact directly on the bottom line through increased loyalty, enhanced skills, developing customer relationships and networking opportunities. Volunteering adds as much value to the business world as it does the charities and organisations it helps.
Leading by example, three directors at CRM volunteer their time:
Alan Sowden, Technical Director and volunteer with SSNAP (Support for the Sick Newborn and their Parents)
“This charity works at the neonatal unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. It provides all sorts of support to parents with babies in the unit and raises funds for equipment like special chairs to help parents have skin to skin contact with their baby and breast pumps. My wife Natalie is a regular parent volunteer and I get involved as much as I can to speak to parents, answer their questions and talk about their experiences.
“Natalie and I were in their shoes three years ago when our daughter Daisy was born three months premature. Nothing can prepare you for the shock and worry of having a baby in the neonatal unit, bombarded with medical tests, faced with tubes and beeping machines and not being able to be a ‘normal’ parent.
“The nurses called Daisy a feisty little girl and 84 days after she was born we were able to take her home. It was important for us to give back something to the charity that had supported us so kindly during those 84 days and beyond. We help out with coffee mornings and even take a decent meal to parents on the unit as it’s hard to remember to look after yourself. I like to be there around Father’s Day as most of the support is for mothers and there aren’t many male volunteers to understand and support the Dads.”
Noel Heaven, Director and volunteer with the Oxford Foodbank
“I’ve been involved with the Oxford Foodbank for about 10 years now. My involvement is via my accountancy skills to help with the figures, I was asked to be the Treasurer and a Trustee of the charity seven years ago. The Oxford Foodbank collects mostly fresh produce from supermarkets and distributes the food to other charities around Oxford and Oxfordshire. 95% of the income is from the public with a few grants to top up.
“There are two employees and 106 volunteers who drive the vans and package up the food into crates. The charity has grown hugely over the years and is helping to cut food waste as well as providing decent food for people in need. I’m proud that the Oxford Foodbank has been praised for its good governance – this helps it to get more donations and do its brilliant work, like working with Waste2Taste, a charity that teaches homeless people cooking skills.”
Tony Hobbs, Managing Director and volunteer at Quest for Learning
“I’m a Trustee and have provided financial advice for this brilliant charity since around 2011. Quest for Learning helps with primary school children who struggle with literacy and numeracy. The tutors work with children one-to-one or in small groups and build links with families to promote home literacy and numeracy, as well as running training courses to inspire teachers.
“I already knew about the great work Jayne Lacny and the team at Quest achieved, so when she asked me for some help with the finances I was happy to apply my knowledge.”
Jayne says the following about having Tony on board:
“Tony has been a stalwart in supporting our education charity, advising on financial matters to enable us to take a medium to long-term view on how best to survive in a competitive market. Tony has years of financial knowledge and has been instrumental in putting us in such a sensible financial position. We are very lucky to have such wisdom and kindness at our fingertips.”
So, to boost loyalty, develop new skills and create a wonderful feeling of ‘giving back’, why not take a look at what you could offer to employees to get them volunteering for something that inspires them. Check out the Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action website //ocva.org.uk/ for ideas and further information.