Volunteers are an extremely useful resource to expand support services for refugees. They bring insight to U.S. culture and systems, access to networks for early employment opportunities and career advancement, and time and resources to support refugees. Successful volunteer engagement builds an agency’s capacity to serve clients. Traditional volunteerism engages individuals and small groups in mentoring, teaching, setting up apartments, and more! In addition, volunteers often serve as the best program advocates and donors because of their unique connection to refugee resettlement work. To broaden volunteerism, agencies may choose to engage businesses and employers in volunteer opportunities.
Corporate volunteering is when a company partners with a nonprofit to provide volunteers for the organization, often with paid time off or other incentives for their employee volunteers. Corporate volunteering can offer a lot of benefits, not only to resettlement programs, but to the companies themselves. Corporations benefit from volunteering through increased staff morale, staff team building, and being more visible in their communities. Resettlement agencies benefit by being able to tap into a group of organized fully vetted volunteers. There are also strong links between corporate volunteering and corporate giving.
How to Use Corporate Volunteering
Corporations can provide on-site volunteers in all the traditional ways, or they could provide volunteers from a distance by doing things remotely like:
- Serve as one-on-one ESL conversation partners with refugees over Skype
- Provide industry specific employment strategies or insight
- Teach job readiness classes
- Facilitate mock interviews
- Organize fundraisers or collection drives
- Create “kits” of donated items for arriving refugees
- Banks could provide free checking accounts and assist financial literacy classes on managing money and using a bank account
- Career mentors or career visit days for refugee youth at the corporate site
Corporate volunteering is a great way to include local businesses into your organization’s mission while simultaneously providing services to your clients. Be sure to be prepared with opportunities and information on how to best work together before seeking new partnerships.
For more information on employment specific corporate volunteering, read Higher’s previous post.