Alie Goldblatt
company culture, corporate social responsibility, virtual team building, virtual volunteering

Team Volunteering vs. Individual Volunteering: How to Best Make an Impact During Covid-19

As 88% of companies have transitioned to a work-from-home model since the onset of the pandemic, leaders in corporate social responsibility (CSR) have had to quickly adapt to the changing landscape of employee volunteering. Companies and their employees now have to balance addressing the needs of their community, while also keeping safe. On one hand, working as a team is proven to be an efficient way to make an immediate and lasting impact. On the other hand, social distancing is necessary for public health.

While both team volunteering and individual volunteering are crucial in addressing the needs exacerbated by the pandemic, each has its strengths. To help you decide what’s best for your community, employees, and company, here are some things to consider.

Benefits of corporate team volunteering

  • Overcoming Social Isolation
    Compounded by the ‘work-from-home’ orders, it has been reported since the lockdown of the US economy, “roughly a third of American adults report feeling lonelier than usual.” Gathering as a team (even virtually) with the intention of creating shared impact drives social-connection, decreases stress levels, and reduces employee attrition.
  • Increasing Impact
    Each contribution to a team-volunteering activity enhances the impact of the project. For instance, with a greater number of care-packages assembled and distributed to local hospitals by your team, more pediatric patients will feel a sense of comfort and care from your acts of kindness.
  • Nurturing Company Values
    Establishing your company and employees as social change-agents and establishing a greater connection to your local and global community. For example, with Visit.org you can gather your employees virtually to equip individuals with intellectual disabilities for interview skills to increase their employment opportunities.

Benefits of individual volunteering for corporate employees

  • Flexibility
    Many companies, large and small, have employees in different time-zones. With individual volunteering, team members can volunteer when it fits into their daily schedule. For example, recording bedtime stories for vulnerable children or making blankets for families in need are some ways to give back as an individual on one’s own time.
  • Diverse Causes
    The causes that employees are passionate about contributing to can be as diverse as the number of employees! But this doesn’t have to be an obstacle for CSR leaders. Whether employees already come with a cause or organization they want to support, or whether CSR leaders provide a diverse range of social impact experiences for employees to choose from, having individual volunteering opportunities available will ensure that employees feel that their values are supported, while allowing companies to make an impact on a wide range of causes.

Team vs. Individual Volunteering: Which is better for your community, employees, & company?

In short, both! You can decide to offer group experiences, solo opportunities, or both, based on the needs and abilities of your team members. Whether you choose team or individual volunteer opportunities, giving back will strengthen your employees’ relationships to the community around them.

But because the pandemic has isolated many people from their colleagues, team opportunities have become essential to cultivating company-culture and fostering employee-to-employee connection. Moreover, in a time of pressing need for many non-profit organizations, team volunteering also produces a greater (and more efficient) impact — provided it is done with the public’s health in mind.

Regardless of which approach you take, do consider the following guidelines.

Best practices for corporate volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic

  • Encourage your employees’ desires to give back
    More than ever, employees are interested in not only contributing to causes they care about, but working for a company that empowers and equips them to do so. Cultivate a company culture and create spaces where your employees can share what communities or issues they’d like to impact.
  • Opt for virtual volunteering where possible, but be conscious of Zoom fatigue
    When facilitating a volunteer experience for your employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to avoid mass gatherings. As such, remote volunteering is the safest way to gather your team together, or “send” individual team members, to contribute to their community. That said, please keep in mind, that during this extended isolation, many employees are experiencing Zoom fatigue (or the feeling of being drained after a video conference). Combat such fatigue, and increase employee engagement, with these tips.
  • Observe safety precautions when volunteering in person
    Certain situations, such as delivering food to the hungry, call for in-person volunteering, even in the midst of a pandemic. To do this as safely as possible, follow these safety precautions outlined by a nonprofit expert.
  • Get help
    Visit.org will partner with your company to enrich your existing CSR programming with bespoke team and individual social impact activities that bring people together even in a socially distant world. These meaningful volunteering opportunities are safe to participate in during the Covid-19 pandemic, and can be tailored to your company’s virtual engagement framework.

Visit.org connects corporations and their employees to causes they care about. The platform and service helps HR, CSR, and Diversity & Inclusion teams in enterprise companies enter the new world of online employee engagement through meaningful virtual social impact experiences. To get started, contact us at [email protected] or request a demo on our website.

Cover photo courtesy of Joel Muniz