After months of hard work, your social impact event is finally here: A meaningful, community-building activity is planned. Your nonprofit partner is about to lead an engaging volunteering experience. Now, your employees just need to show up.
Employee participation is a top challenge for social impact professionals. According to CECP’s 2022 Giving in Numbers report, on average only 17% of employees participate in their company’s volunteer programs.
Such a figure is troublesome because metrics including employee participation and employee volunteer hours are top key performance indicators (KPI) social impact professionals use to measure the effectiveness of their social impact programming. Plus, the more employees who participate, the greater community impact you’ll make.
Here are Visit.org’s tried-and-true ways to increase social impact employee participation at your events throughout the year.
1. Get an executive to “sponsor” the event
Ask a member of your executive team to be an ambassador to your social impact experience. By getting an influential member of your organization excited about the event’s mission, Visit.org corporate partners find that more employees are motivated to sign up.
Include the company leader on marketing communications, and ask if they can promote the experience leading up to the event.
For experiences with multiple events, (such as day, week, or month of service programs) ask executives to select an experience or impact area they’re personally passionate about, and plan for them to give a one-minute welcome to all employee participants at the beginning of the event to thank them for showing up. Be sure to send a post-event thank you email from the executive sponsor to all participants. Underscore the impact of the activity (highlighting figures such as number of community members helped or volunteer hours contributed) to congratulate the team for their work.
2. Gamify event registration
Foster friendly competition between teams or business entities by gamifying registration, and including an enticing award. For example, teams with the highest participation rates can be the ones to present a donation to an approved nonprofit organization, and be publicly celebrated at all-company meetings.
Visit.org’s real-time event dashboard can automatically track registrations, allowing event leaders to provide daily updates about leading teams.
3. Time experiences mindfully
In the age of hybrid and remote work, it’s likely that some employees are located in various countries and time zones. This presents obvious challenges when planning social impact experiences that everyone can enjoy.
Carefully examine where your employees work, and what time would work best for them to participate in an activity. It’s possible that you may need to plan multiple experiences to accommodate your global, dispersed workforce. Try encouraging your management team to clear any non-essential meetings from your employee’s calendar to proactively mitigate conflicts. This reinforces that social impact participation is encouraged in your organization from the top down.
4. Survey your staff
Employees are more likely to participate in a volunteering experience if they’re passionate about the impact area. It’s a good idea to send out an annual survey to identify topics of interest, which can range from supporting families to promoting mental health and well-being to protecting the environment, and more. Visit.org’s pre-event surveys can help you determine what type of experiences to plan for the entire year, and our online platform highlights upcoming events that could be relevant to your organization.
5. Highlight your nonprofit partner
Storytelling is a powerful tool to encourage your team to form an emotional connection with your nonprofit partner and their mission. On all of your internal communications, highlight how the social impact experience employees will be participating in supports the nonprofit’s important work.
6. Invite your employees to the experience
It seems like a no-brainer, but if employees don’t know about the social impact experience, they won’t register.
Over-communicate the event through all your company’s internal channels, including emails, Slack messages (where fun GIFs or designed images are eye-catching and effective), calendar invitations, your employee newsletter, and all-hands meetings.
Visit.org’s team of event marketing experts can help you create promotional materials to distribute across your company.
7. Use scarcity language
Take a page out of the marketing 101 handbook and use scarcity language to communicate your event. Research shows that scarcity language such as “save your seat,” “only a few spots left,” “don’t miss out,” and “last chance to sign up” can prompt your colleagues to register.
Don’t be afraid to use emojis such as megaphones to catch your team’s attention. 📣
8. Activate the buddy system
Volunteering with work friends is twice as nice! Encourage your employees to invite their work friends after registering via your internal communication channels. Research shows that employees who have a best friend at work are more likely to be a part of a high-performing team.
Social impact experiences are a powerful way to cultivate friendships in the workplace.
Improve your event participation
Improving event participation doesn’t have to be a mystery.
By using a combination of some or all of the above effective methods, you can increase the likelihood that your social impact experience will be well-attended — so your company can make a meaningful, measurable community impact.
Reach out to the Visit.org team to learn more about improving employee social impact experience participation.