The Risks of Corporate Volunteering: What HR Should Plan For In Setting Up A Corporate Volunteer Program

Jan 14, 2017 6:00:00 AM / by Gaurav Bhattacharya

 corporate volunteer program



One risk of running a corporate volunteering program, especially for large companies, is miscommunication. It is very difficult to disseminate any kind of information to large groups of people, and it becomes especially challenging when it is for a large project like a volunteer program.

One-time announcements regarding your corporate volunteering program can easily be misinterpreted or missed. You could craft an awesome email about your program with a slick poster and inspiring call-to-action, just for it to end up in the digital trash bin. An otherwise interested employee might mistake your message for a dull corporate reminder, like the ones they’re used to getting every week.

It is a real risk that you will be unable to communicate clearly about your volunteering program, and fail to even get it off the ground.

To remedy this, look to the example of the Ford Motor Company. Even though it is a multinational company, Ford has a successful volunteering program with excellent communication, as they strive to “build and maintain awareness of the program by continuous communication with employees.”

Following Ford’s lead, here are some ways you can ensure that communication in your volunteering program is clear:

  • Have creative methods of communication.Try specially designed emails and posters with unique colors different from your business’s traditional theme.
  • Tell your new employees about the volunteering program during their orientation process, where they will be most receptive to new information.
  • Update your employees on the program during department and staff meetings.


Conflict With Job Responsibilities

corporate volunteering

Imagine that your volunteering program is a wild success. Employees are passionate about it, and they dedicate hours and dollars to its charities and projects. Great! However, there is a risk that could come with your program’s success, as it could conflict with workers’ normal job responsibilities.

For example, what if a critical meeting is scheduled for the same time as a volunteering activity? If an employee is out participating in the program, will somebody be covering his or her work duties? Your successful volunteering program may end up taking away time and talent from your business, so you should be prepared for that.

To mitigate against this, make sure all levels of management are aware of the volunteering program, including its activities and workload. Also, inform your employees about the importance of their normal job duties, and try to integrate their volunteering schedule into their normal work schedule so events don’t clash. One way to do this is to strategically plan more volunteering opportunities during times of the year when business is a little slower.


Whatever you do, you want to make sure that volunteering doesn’t interfere with work.


Legal Liability

When you create a good for others, you don’t necessarily absolve yourself of liability exposure. A law passed in 1997 significantly insulates volunteers from legal liability, but for directors and officers your risk can be as high as if you were running a for-profit company. This also goes for the lower-level volunteers, even the ones just driving a van to a volunteer site.

Any project with people working in various locations, traveling in vehicles, and managing money will have its risks, and volunteering is no different.


volunteering risks


Thankfully, you can help your cause by making sure you take steps to minimize your liability, like acquiring liability coverage for the officers and directors in your program (your insurance company can tell you what you need). If you have drivers working for you, make sure they’re covered too, and consider having them sign a pledge acknowledging their responsibilities and risks. Even for your rank-and-file volunteers, you should build awareness about safety concerns during their volunteer efforts, especially if their activities are performed off company property.

Don’t let these risks deter you from starting a volunteering program though! Instead, look at these risks as reminders to treat your program as you would any other part of your business.

Having a risk control plan for your volunteering program will add professionalism to it, and help make it an organic part of your business, instead of just a little sideshow.


For further tips on running a corporate volunteering program click here.




Gaurav Bhattacharya

Written by Gaurav Bhattacharya

CEO and Co-founder @ InvolveSoft. Passionate about technology impacting the world.