Nonprofit volunteer managers are sometimes inundated with offers from corporations—especially around volunteer “holidays” like The National Day of Service and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While no NPOs we know would turn down volunteers who are willing and qualified to help, sometimes too much of a good thing can make for headaches.
Every volunteer manager has had unusual requests from corporations. From custom-designing a volunteer opportunity just for them, to dictating who will show up and when, and what their employees will and will not do, companies can be “overeager” with their requests.
Some companies want only group activities—are they working on their team-building? What if you have more tasks that require only one person or two-people teams to complete?
Other companies want opportunities that will teach their employees a skill, or enhance their existing skills. What if your needs do not match this desire?
NPO managers are not required to satisfy their corporate volunteer programs’ needs. NPOs do not have to invest tasks and projects to meet their requirements. If you have work that matches what a company wants for their employee volunteers, then great. Let them go get it done! If not, offer an alternative.
You’re in charge—there’s no need to fill someone’s made-to-order volunteer desires. Ask for their help in getting your goals met. Offer alternatives that might make both sides happy. Break up large projects into smaller ones that can work over a longer term. Alternatively, group smaller projects into a work day that a corporate team can attend together.
Finding ways to fulfill both sides’ needs is important when corporate volunteer programs come calling. NPOs can’t alienate supporters, but they also shouldn’t let them dictate the terms of engagement.