April is National Volunteer Month and a good time to check in on your organization’s philanthropic giving and community engagement plans. It’s also a good time to check whether these plans are aligned with your DEI goals. Encouraging employees to volunteer and get involved in their local communities is a good way to demonstrate commitment to your DEI values and improve employee engagement.
More than 60 million people volunteer their time and talents in the United States each year – time spent that helps neighbors in need as well as the volunteers themselves. In 2018, the economic benefit of over 8 billion hours of volunteer service was $297.5 billion. Plus, according to a recent study conducted in the UK, volunteers are almost twice as likely to report being happy with their lives compared to non-volunteers.
Employers might be reluctant to allow employees to volunteer on company time, but this is a best practice that delivers benefits that outweigh any lost productivity. Researcher in Australia recently reported that employees who volunteered were more likely to report higher job satisfaction and commitment to their employer. They were also more likely to say they had received recognition and praise from their supervisor in the past year.
Since a bad relationship with a manager is one of the leading causes of voluntary turnover, employers can think about employee volunteer programs as a strategic tool to improve those relationships. Further, happy and engaged employees are healthier and more productive, which makes up for time away from the workplace.
This is a particularly good time to consider an employee volunteer program as many workplaces are struggling to return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. A CDC study found that between 2020 and 2021, American adults reported unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety. The good news is that volunteering has been reported to lower rates of depression and anxiety and increase a sense of life satisfaction and happiness.
In January 2022, Diversity Works hosted a live event with Tysus Jackson, Conscious Giver in Chief, who talks about how to connect your DEI values with your philanthropic giving. To celebrate National Volunteer Month, we encourage you to re-listen to that conversation and get inspired to align your philanthropic giving and community engagement plans with your DEI goals.
About Elizabeth Curwen
Elizabeth is a managing partner of Diversity Works and the immediate past board chair of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, which serves Washington, DC's Ward 7 community and visitors from around the world. The park is an important ecosystem on the Anacostia River and helps connect neighborhood kids to nature.