The Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) programme aimed to increase the number of volunteers in the county by encouraging employers to support their staff to volunteer. The programme, funded by the Health & Wellbeing Fund, was delivered between April 2012 and March 2015 in the three local authority Districts of Lincoln City, North Kesteven & West Lindsey. A partnership was also developed with Lincolnshire CVS who delivered the project in the remaining Districts of the County to provide a consistent service for Lincolnshire businesses.
Engaging local businesses into community action
Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) is a great way to help employees learn new skills, grow in confidence and gain new contacts within the local community. It also benefits employers by helping to raise their profile and connecting with the local community. The four main elements of the project were:
- Employer Supported Social Action
- Group Volunteering and Team Challenges
- Pro-bono Professionals
- Micro-volunteering and ‘virtual’ social action
Over the life span of the project we worked with 55 employers in the west area of Lincolnshire to introduce the idea of ESV, resulting in 27 of them actually taking part in the programme through various activities. 234 voluntary and community groups were supported through these activities, including 45 team challenges, over 60 lots of support from pro bono professionals and 72 virtual social actions. As a result of the project, 765 people got involved with social action, with 36 of those increasing their philanthropic activity.
We worked closely with both employers and groups to plan for team challenges, with lots of time being spent in brokering and planning.
Improving cross sector connections
We worked with over 50 local businesses in the area over the life of the project and whilst not all of those businesses resulted in actual results that we could count, the work did start to build relationships between the voluntary and private sectors, which can continue to be built upon in the future.
We wanted to make better connections with both sectors and believe we have achieved this over the three years by the variety of activity we had on offer for businesses. We found that the time that was offered depended on the size of the business and what worked best for them. We saw smaller businesses give pro bono support to local voluntary and community groups, resulting in 62 separate pieces of support given, whilst larger businesses were happy to ‘release’ their staff to get involved in 45 team challenges. We believe that by businesses being involved in ESV, it has created a better understanding for them of the breadth of voluntary and community groups that exist in our local areas and of the work we do as an organisation.
The ESV legacy
Whilst the project was only funded for 3 years, we wanted to build upon something that would leave a legacy beyond that time frame and encourage the links between the sectors to be sustainable. So far, we have seen larger businesses continuing their commitment to their Corporate Social Responsibility with local groups and their recognition that our services have played a huge part in making those connections across the sectors.
For more information about the Employer Supported Volunteering Project, please contact Steph Boyfield, Project Officer for volunteering development firstname.lastname@example.org