THE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERISM
by Kim Reddick, CPMR, and Deena V. Baker
Volunteering is more than doing your part for a good cause. It’s a great way to meet new people and strengthen your ties to a community or organization; in addition, it connects people who have common interests, can foster strong relationships and learn new skills that may even be useful on the job.
Philanthropy is one of the core values of Women In Plastics, which manifests itself through volunteerism. While the mission of Women in Plastics is to come together to promote, advance and sustain women in the performance plastics industry, they also form personal connections to one another through philanthropy. The Women in Plastics leadership is committed to developing well rounded women who will not only be industry leaders, but also leaders in their community. Women In Plastics philanthropic events allow participants to work alongside one another and serve others in the communities where they live and visit.
Volunteerism and engagement
Various studies have found that the benefits of volunteering are immense. For example, there is a connection between volunteering and engaged employees. In Ireland, a study found that 87 percent of employees who volunteered with their companies reported an improved perception of their employer. More importantly, a whopping 82 percent felt more committed to the organization (1). During times of low unemployment and competition for excellent employees, this kind of loyalty is vital to keeping your company strong and well-staffed.
Creating a culture that encourages volunteering in a professional setting can boost morale, improve event atmosphere and brand perception, as well as foster deeper commitments and networking connections among event participants. Volunteering improves your commitment and pride in your work. This empowerment can develop stronger, more connected teams and helps people bond and support each other in new ways because of this shared experience.
Learning through volunteering
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Women in Plastics found opportunities to volunteer with a local organization at each of their regional events. By enabling attendees to try different things, new learned or developed skills can be added to their toolkits for future use in their jobs and help in their careers. Learning a new skill adds to a person’s sense of worth and boosts motivation, making them feel valuable and positively affect their overall wellbeing. In addition, volunteering can uncover and highlight who has aptitude for leading and who might make excellent future business leaders.
These are valuable skills a company needs to remain viable. While there are numerous consultants out there who would be happy to charge you vast amounts of money to uncover the emerging talent in your organization, you can also find similar traits yourself just by encouraging your employees to organize philanthropic projects. It’s a win-win-win: Your employees benefit from helping the causes that are meaningful to them, you uncover their hidden talents and it’s even great publicity for your organization. Plus, of course, the organizations being helped will benefit. Examples how Women In Plastics has made a difference through volunteerism include:
2020 Austin, TX, USA: Participants and member companies donated their time at a local food bank where they sorted and packed food boxes. The group packaged 20,020 meals for distribution across Texas. Food insecurity is real, and members were touched and overwhelmed to help families in need.
2019 Atlanta, GA, USA: Participants and member companies gathered food for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, a worldwide organization supporting the families of sick children.
2019 Chicago, IL, USA: School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (S.C.A.R.E.) teaches school age children about recycling. Volunteers were thrilled to donate books and school supplies to an organization helping children and the environment.
2018 Charlotte, NC, USA: Participants and member companies supplied donations for Lily Pad Haven, a local organization that provides after care to those rescued from human trafficking.
2017 Bethlehem, PA, USA: Attendees volunteered their time at the local Boys and Girls Club. What an unbelievable opportunity to work side-by-side with the children to offer homework assistance, participate in sporting activities and help with meal preparation and distribution.
2017 Lowell, MA, USA: Participants brought clothes and supplies to Catie’s Closet, an organization offering clothes and toiletries to school age children in need.
When the pandemic caused a temporary stop to the regional in-person events, the Women in Plastics group did not let that get in the way of their volunteerism. Instead, the first Watch Me WIP day combined two priorities of the group — wellness and philanthropy — by getting out and moving, plus donating supplies to local food banks. Participants accrued more than 100,000 steps during this day of wellness and helped numerous food banks during a time when many people were struggling.
The organizations Women in Plastics have supported are vast and wide reaching. We are grateful for being able to help so many charities where we can have an impact. Some of the best feedback we received after the Austin event at the food bank was that members were moved and found it more impactful to not only donate items but to work “hands on.” We look forward to returning to in-person events in the future so we can be together and continue to support organizations in need.
More than just a good idea
As we’ve shown in this article, the benefits of philanthropy goes far beyond the help given while volunteering. When a company has a strong culture of philanthropy and encourages their employees to volunteer, it fosters teamwork, creates more engaged employees, helps people learn new skills, helps you identify emerging leaders and contributes to employee loyalty. With all these benefits, what do you have to lose?
References 1. Business Case #1: Employee Volunteering Creates Employee Engagement; www.realizedworth.com/2018/11/20/business-case-1-employee-volunteering-creates-employee-engagement/
Originally published in the International Association of Plastics Distribution Performance Plastics Magazine, August/September 2021 publication.
Deena V. Baker is in charge of sales operations for CartierWilson LLC. For more information, contact CartierWilson LLC at 34194 Aurora Road, Suite 231 Solon, OH 44139-3801 USA, phone (770) 644-0000, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cartierwilson.com.