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By Jaidyn Crookston | November 07, 2022 | 13 Minute Read

How to Create a Successful Employee Volunteer Program

Bank employees volunteering in the community

Many financial institutions have employee volunteer programs. These programs serve to encourage employees to volunteer in their communities, get the institution’s name out there, earn CRA credit, and more. While these programs are very beneficial, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to create or that it’s easy to get employees to volunteer


Here are the 12 steps that will help you create an employee volunteer program for your bank or credit union.  


1. Create a plan


The first step to creating an employee volunteer program is deciding that you need an employee volunteer program. Beyond that, though, you need to start building a plan. Define what you want your program to accomplish, give the program a name, and outline the system you want to follow. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but just getting everything onto paper will help you see what needs to be done and where you should go from there. 


2. Set clear goals


Setting clear goals is a crucial step in creating an employee volunteer program. When your goals are vague or even undefined, you’ll never know if your program has accomplished what you’ve set out to do. You’ll always wonder if you’re making a real difference or just chugging along. Having clear goals will get rid of these doubts and show you exactly what your program is doing and how much you’ve grown.  


The goals you set need to be clear. Even better, make them SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Here are some SMART goal examples: 


  • We want 50% of our employees to regularly volunteer each year.

  • We want to hold a company-wide volunteer day every quarter.

  • We want to hit 2,000 volunteer hours as a whole institution. 


See? You can have as many goals as you want as long as you keep everything realistic and don’t overdo it. Goals help you stay focused, keep you motivated, and help you measure progress. Once you set some goals, watch your employee volunteer program start to grow!




3. Build support from top executives


Your employee volunteer program will never launch unless you ask for support from leadership. When building support, you’ll want to share your plan and goals, so make sure to define those first. Also make sure to share how this volunteer program will benefit your institution and your employees. Without a beneficial purpose behind your program, executives aren’t likely to sign off. 


Above all, remember that building support for your employee volunteer program can take time. It may take lots of meetings, revisions, research, and more before your idea takes hold and gains support from top executives. But once you do gain their support, you’re ready to move on to gaining support from employees.


Check out this article for more ideas on building support within your institution.


4. Show employees the “why” and gain their support


You may have buy-in from leadership, but your employee volunteer program won’t have much of an impact unless your employees are on board as well. You’re asking them to do more than is required in their job description, so the least you can do is gather their feedback and make it as easy as possible for them. 


To gain employee support, start by sharing your “why.” Why are you starting this program? Why does your community need your employees? Why should they care? Hopefully they already want to make a difference and serve their community, but it never hurts to remind them what your program is meant to accomplish. 


Now that employees know how this program benefits their community, show them how it will benefit them. Will you have an awards program to reward top volunteers? Will employees be paid for any service they do outside of work hours? What benefits are you offering them? Once employees see what they’ll get out of this program (besides knowing they’ve helped their community), they’re much more likely to support your idea and volunteer with an open mind. 


Depending on how your program is organized and whether or not your institution already has a strong culture of volunteerism, gaining employee support may or may not be difficult. Stay the course and don’t give up if this is challenging. Eventually, employees will come around and be excited about the opportunity to volunteer. Once you do get their support, you’re ready to launch your program! 


5. Plan volunteer opportunities


Now that you’ve created a plan, set clear goals, and gathered support, it’s time to start planning volunteer activities. 


This is the whole point of your employee volunteer program—to give your employees opportunities to serve their community and get your institution’s name out there. Here are some basic tips to follow when planning volunteer activities:


  • Plan activities that cater to employees of all ages and physical abilities.

  • Set clear expectations with the nonprofit or community organization you’re partnering with.

  • Stay local. Not all employees can easily drive 50 miles to do a service project. If you do want to travel to this event, make sure to provide extra compensation or shuttles for those employees who don’t drive. 

  • Make a list of all necessary equipment and make sure to go shopping beforehand. Set funds aside for any last-minute needs that may arise.

  • Ask someone to take lots of pictures and videos. After the event, put together a video showcasing your employees’ hard work and share it with your community.

  • Always plan a backup! If your outdoor activity gets canceled because of weather, you don’t want to be left with nothing to do. 

  • Don’t forget to have fun. Your employees are much more likely to enjoy themselves and look forward to service projects when they have fun and see your good attitude. 




6. Communicate with employees


Just because you’ve planned a volunteer event doesn’t mean your employees know about it. It’s up to you to get the word out and invite employees. This may mean sending emails, setting up a page on your intranet dedicated to service opportunities, talking about the event in meetings, or otherwise getting the word around the office/work-from-home environment. 


An easy way to tell employees about upcoming events is by using Kadince to plan and track all your institution’s events. Kadince event portals let employees view all events available to them and RSVP for the events that catch their interest. And this portal isn’t limited to volunteer opportunities. Have some basketball tickets you need to give away? Stick them in Kadince. 


With Kadince events, you can send links through email that take employees to an event portal with several listed events or to a specific event page. They can sign up directly and will receive reminder emails leading up to the event. And once an event is over, you can track who attended right in Kadince. Planning events and communicating with your employees has never been easier. Schedule a demo to learn more about Kadince events. 




7. Engage internal champions


Chances are there will be some people at your institution who are super excited about the opportunity to serve. These people can serve as champions for your employee volunteer program and help you get others excited about it as well.  


8. Tell your community


Employees aren’t the only ones who need to know about your institution’s new volunteer program. Telling community members will help them see your institution as one that cares about its community. And this may lead to more customers/members and better goodwill throughout the area. 


You can share the good news through social media, email, word of mouth, and more. The more people who know about your institution’s program, the better off your institution will be. 


It’s great when your community knows about your volunteer program as a whole, but it’s also good for customers/members to see your employees at each individual volunteer event. An easy way to do this is by asking employees to wear their institution-branded T-shirts to the volunteer activity. Now everyone who sees your employees serving their community will know exactly where they came from—your institution. 


9. Track volunteer hours


Let’s revisit those goals you made, shall we? One of your goals is likely related to how many hours employees spend volunteering each month, quarter, or year. Or what percentage of employees are volunteering at all. 


Tracking these goals means tracking employee volunteer hours. (And if your institution is subject to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), tracking volunteer hours for potential CRA credit is a must.) If you’re like many institutions, this may mean using complicated spreadsheets to keep track of who is volunteering, when, where, and for how long. And asking employees to submit their hours is usually more trouble than it’s worth. Instead of spending hours tracking this data on a giant spreadsheet, Kadince makes this process fast and easy. 


Schedule a demo to learn more! 






10. Get employee input and feedback


Now that you’ve held a volunteer activity and gotten your employee volunteer program up and running, it’s time to ask for some feedback. Your employees are a valuable resource, and since this program directly affects them, it only makes sense to ask them what they think. 


You can do this several ways. You could send out an anonymous survey, hold a feedback meeting, engage in some serious water cooler talk, or anything else that will give employees the space to talk about your new program and give their feedback. 


Some questions you might ask employees include:


  • What do you like about the program? 

  • What would you change about the program?

  • What’s difficult about the program?

  • How do you feel about tracking your volunteer hours? Is our process easy? Difficult? 

  • What kind of volunteer activities would you like to participate in going forward? 


When you know what’s working with your program and what isn’t, you can make adjustments and build a stronger employee volunteer program for the future.


11. Get community feedback


Employees aren’t the only ones who might have something to say about your volunteer program. You should also ask community members and those you’ve partnered with for their feedback. Asking community members about your program may only work once your program has had time to build a name for itself. Otherwise, members of your community may not recognize what you’re talking about!


As for the nonprofits and organizations you’ve partnered with during volunteer events, you should always ask them whether their expectations were met. Did your employees do what you said they would do? Did they accomplish everything they needed to? Did the organization notice any problems with the way your program is run or designed? Asking these questions can provide valuable feedback that will help you take your employee volunteer program to the next level. 


Just make sure not to take offense or be discouraged by any of the feedback you receive! Listening to and acting on feedback will only make your program stronger, so you should be grateful for this chance. 


12. Keep going!


Creating an employee volunteer program isn’t easy, but it is worth it! Now that you have systems in place and have collected feedback, you can continue encouraging employees to volunteer and make a difference in their communities. 


Your institution, your employees, and your community will all be better off for it. 

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Jaidyn Crookston | Content Manager, Kadince

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