Getting Started with Volunteering

Your community

Supporting your staff to volunteer can be an impactful way to support charities and good causes.

There’s a number of business benefits that volunteering can bring, including:

  1. Attracting and retaining staff
  2. Building brand awareness
  3. Engaging and uniting your workforce
  4. Developing new skills

So let’s get you started with some concepts around volunteering!

Business-wide volunteering

Do you want a structured volunteering programme where you help to find the right volunteering opportunities for your people?

This could involve groups of employees volunteering together as a team building exercise, supporting the same organisation on a regular basis or providing access to a volunteer broker service to make it as easy as possible to get involved.

You can approach this in a few ways:

  • Organise a charity partnership with volunteering options. If you’ve identified a cause that you want to support, you might want to contact a few charities in that area and see how best you could support them. See our ‘charity selection process’ resource for tips on finding a partner charity and building a successful partnership.
  • Use a paid for brokerage service that will take on the admin burden for you. Some UK-wide options our members use are Ethical Angel, Pilotlight and Action Funder (formerly Semble), but also have a look around to find out what local organisations are helping to facilitate and encourage volunteering in your area.
  • Link up with others! You might have clients or suppliers with developed volunteering programmes – can you join them?

Individual volunteering

Do you want to encourage your employees to find their own volunteering opportunities?

Your employees are a varied group of people with different passions and ways they want to give, some may already have charities that they would like to support. You can support them to volunteer individually by:

  • Having a ‘time-off’ for volunteering policy to show that you support it
  • Encouraging volunteering to develop skills by building it into your learning and development processes
  • Sharing good news stories of what colleagues are doing, offering an annual prize of a donation to their charity of choice
  • Signposting them to opportunities through organisations such as Getting on Board, Governors for Schools, Reach Volunteering and Volunteering Matters or jobs boards that promote volunteering roles such as Guardian Jobs and CharityJob

Types of volunteering

There are two different types of volunteering, ‘skilled’ and ‘unskilled’.

A ‘skills-based’ volunteer uses their knowledge and abilities to benefit a worthy cause pro-bono. It is normally the most in demand by organisations.

An ‘unskilled’ volunteer does not mean they’re not unskilled, it refers to situations where volunteers donate their time for a good cause without having specific professional expertise to contribute to the project. This type of volunteering can be highly beneficial if the volunteers are trained and well-prepared for the task they’re expected to carry out.

‘Skills based’ volunteering
Industry related volunteering Speaking at schools or running workshops to help diversify the industry
Role related volunteering Pro-bono help to a charity in marketing, finance, recruitment
Individual related volunteering Being a trustee of a charity or governor of a school
Unskilled’ volunteering
Group activities for all Conservation, improving community facilities or working at a food bank
Supporting underserved populations Mentoring young adults from lower socio-economic backgrounds

What do you need to enable volunteering?

  1. Create a volunteering policy that offers paid volunteering hours. Here’s our employee volunteering policy resource to get you started. Make sure you’re clear whether individuals have to take the day off in one go, or they can use the hours over a longer period of time.
  2. Money to cover the costs of organising volunteering opportunities where necessary
  3. A clear process for people to get involved
  4. A culture that supports volunteering
  5. Active senior support to encourage engagement

This was updated in October 2023 by Heart of the City. We’ve created these resources for individual SMEs to use. None of our content is to be adapted, reused or repurposed for commercial use.