6 Tips for Working With Nonprofit Partners on Employee Activation

Jan 4, 2023

Companies know business, inside and out. But delving into employee activation can be tricky territory. Having a CSR partner can take your success to the next level. One of the major factors of success for your company’s employee volunteer program is identifying and working with knowledgeable and experienced community partners. This includes those with local, national or global reach, the ability to scale as needed, and the ones that best know the community’s needs and are already working to solve society’s greatest challenges.  

Here are some tips to ensure success when it comes to employee activation.

1. Prioritize Social Change Above All Else

It’s important to anchor volunteer programs in the needs of nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders. As important as company priorities are, start with knowing that you are doing this work to drive positive social change first. Do not decide for the nonprofit what their needs are. Instead, listen to them and decide how to best support those needs together. In this way, you can create shared value. 

2. Work With Nonprofits That Have Ample Experience in Corporate Civic Engagement

Select a nonprofit partner that has experience working with organizations of your size and structure. This is also an opportune time for current employee volunteer leaders to step up, or for you to select one or more of your internal leaders to help with project planning, working with the partner and recruiting volunteers.  

3. Pick a Partner and Build a Strong Relationship

As you vet nonprofit partners you might like to work with, look for organizations that you can have a transformational, rather than transactional, relationship with. While one-time or episodic volunteer projects have their time and place, focusing on long-term or recurring opportunities and deep engagement can result in feeling a sense of belonging and ownership of the shared work.  

4. Communication is Key 

As you work with your nonprofit partner, keep each other informed after you agree on the project specifics. Have regular check-ins (or ensure that your volunteer leaders are taking this step) so that you all know if the plan goes off course and can right the ship. This measure also prevents any surprises. Make sure you agree upon timing, tasks and policies to uphold, like taking photos or having any beneficiaries present to sign a waiver, enforcing safety precautions, determining who is purchasing supplies or what will be donated, scheduling supply arrival, and even simple things like keeping track of who will be there to open the door on the day of the project. 

5. Evaluate and Reevaluate the Success of the Partnership

Don’t forget to stop and evaluate the partnership from time to time. Just like any relationship, you will want to know what’s working and where there’s room for improvement. With regular reviews of performance and overall success of the relationship, you can be clear on whether the relationship is working for both parties or whether it’s time to break up. 

6. Invest in Your Program and Partnership Wisely

Keep in mind the time and effort it takes to plan a volunteer project. Think about your budget, not just for supplies and refreshments for volunteers, but also the work that goes into planning and leading a project if you’re leaning on the partner for that work. Think also about using budget dollars to invest in your partner’s readiness, especially as it relates to future skills-based or pro bono collaborations and measuring impact. 

Need a nonprofit partner that knows its way around employee activation? Points of Light offers a suite of Corporate Services Solutions for strong community impact and a strong employee volunteer program.

Katy Elder
Vice President of Corporate Insights, Points of Light

Spending 20 years in the corporate social responsibility sector, Katy mixes creativity and strategy with expertise in employee engagement and corporate citizenship to develop resources and learning opportunities that advance corporate social impact.