The benefits of corporate volunteering in the workplace

Corporate volunteering is the concept that businesses should dedicate time, resources, and skill sets to people and nonprofits in need. It’s a simple idea when stated as such, but it’s a part of a larger shift happening in the early 2020s where companies come to terms with their role in society. 

One example is’s fellowship program, where Google employees are given the opportunity to work full time pro bono for up to six months to help a nonprofit like the Family Independence Initiative. Out of this fellowship program comes software and machine learning capabilities that these nonprofits would not otherwise have access to (listen to Jen Carter, global head of technology & volunteering at, speak about this program and more at the 2022 Impact Studio conference).

Volunteerism of this kind is a part of a shift towards stakeholder capitalism, where companies shift their focus from providing returns to shareholders (which is called shareholder capitalism) towards considering how they impact their communities and society. In shifting their focus, companies are increasingly realizing they have significant resources that can make a world of difference for nonprofits.

And you don’t have to be the size of Google to make such a difference. Corporate volunteerism is easier to get started than you might think.

What is corporate volunteering?

Corporate volunteerism initiatives provide employees with resources to volunteer their time and even their expertise to nonprofits and charities. These initiatives can take many forms, from one-time projects to ongoing company programs.

Corporate volunteer programs, often called employee volunteer programs, are usually a core pillar of a company’s broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. A company’s CSR program can include grantmaking, scholarship, and giving and matching programs alongside volunteering.

In today’s business climate, a CSR strategy isn’t just an option — it’s a necessity. PWC’s 2022 report reveals that 65% of people want to work for a company with a powerful social conscience. Further, 73% of customers want companies to help society and the environment. 

Both employees and customers expect companies to have CSR programs, like corporate volunteerism, in place. Without them, it’s more difficult to attract and retain employees. And consumers turn to competitors who make CSR programs a core part of their brand and purpose.

What are the benefits of an employee volunteer program?

Research shows that employee volunteerism is a worthwhile investment for most businesses. The benefits of employee volunteer programs include improved employee satisfaction, increased brand reputation, more effective talent recruitment, and much more. 

All of which are great benefits, but it’s important to note that they’re all a result of the end goal of corporate volunteerism: helping people in need. A corporate volunteer program is not a box to check. It’s a commitment to a deeper purpose. Out of that purpose comes the following benefits.

Improved employee health and well-being. 

According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volunteering improves self-reported employee health and “higher levels of engagement and satisfaction” in their jobs.

Increased employee engagement. 

Studies show employees feel pride when their employers offer volunteer opportunities, regardless of whether they participate. A 2021 study revealed that 96% of companies say employees who volunteer are more engaged.

Improved morale and perception of the working environment. 

According to a Deloitte survey, more than 70% of surveyed employees say volunteering boosts enthusiasm more than happy hours. And 89% think organizations that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better working environment.

Enriched professional development opportunities.

HR professionals agree that volunteering improves employees’ skills, and 80% say active volunteers get promoted faster.

Improved brand reputation and trust.

According to research on community engagement, building long-term community relationships is vital in developing trust. Likewise, 94% of consumers say it’s essential that the companies they engage with have a strong purpose.

Increased sustainable revenue. 

According to a Gallup poll, companies with high employee engagement are 18% more productive and 23% more profitable.

Higher employee retention. 

A survey found that 83% of respondents (up from the 70% U.S. average) would be more loyal to an organization that supports social and environmental causes. Gallup’s survey also found that companies with engaged employees have up to a 43% lower turnover rate. 

Two participants in a Submittable's employee volunteer program portion out pasta at the Missoula food bank

The Submittable product marketing team volunteering at the Missoula Food Bank.

How much does it cost to run an employee volunteer program?

According to Realized Worth, employee volunteer programs cost an average of $179 per employee, regardless of participation rates. If you count only employees who participate in the program, the average cost is $416 per employee participant.

While this is a significant jump, the many benefits often outweigh the cost of a corporate volunteer program. One example we explored above employee retention. Let’s do some math.

  • The average cost of an employee’s departure is 30% of their salary. This equates to approximately $15,000 per employee based on an average salary. (source)
  • A positive brand perception, which a volunteer program contributes to, reduces employee turnover by 28%. (source)
  • In 2021, the national average turnover rate is 57.3%. (source)
  • This means a 1,000-person company with a positive brand perception due to their employee volunteer program could potentially expect a 16% reduction in turnover rate (assuming average turnover rate), or 160 employees.

This all equates to about $240,000 saved in employee retention alone. 

This math is all hypothetical, so you are unlikely to see numbers this concrete on the other end. Much of the results you see will likely be a more anecdotal “rising tide lifts all boats” situation, where valuable employees stick around, and when you need to replace them, highly qualified candidates apply. 

How are corporate volunteer programs structured?

Corporations can structure corporate volunteering in several ways. A few of the most common types include:

  • Direct service. Volunteers work with beneficiaries they’re helping, such as serving meals or building homes.
  • Indirect service. Employees volunteer without interacting with beneficiaries, such as preparing care packages.
  • Team volunteering. Volunteers work together to benefit a cause, boosting participation and morale.
  • Skills-based volunteering. Employees use their skills and experience to support nonprofits by providing pro bono work or services.

Skills-based volunteering increasingly attracts large numbers of volunteers. In 2021, PwC launched a skills-based volunteering program, offering employees 40 hours of paid vacation time. Pro bono services increased by 20%, while services to social justice grew by 30%. Moreover, 95% of employees felt they made a positive impact, and nearly two-thirds felt fulfilled.

Virtual volunteering is providing new possibilities for corporate volunteerism programs as well. The Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) 2022 Giving in Numbers report shows that 83% of companies now offer virtual volunteering as hybrid and remote work policies increase.

Volunteering can take many forms and rely on many different types of giving. A good corporate volunteering software makes it simple for employees to find programs, sign up, and track their participation.

Make corporate volunteerism a part of your company’s future

In the future, more companies will develop corporate volunteering programs to engage their employees in CSR. The best programs will involve employees and adopt new technologies to facilitate corporate volunteerism opportunities.

If you’re looking to get started with corporate volunteerism, book a call with us to learn how Submittable can help you launch and manage the right volunteer program for your company.

Eric Thompson

Eric is a content marketing manager at Submittable with an interest in the future of technology, philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility. When not at work, you can find him running the trails around Missoula.