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Everything You Need to Know About Volunteer Days at Work

Posted by Erin Hall on Mar 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Why offer volunteer days as a workplace benefit? Companies that want to offer unique benefits to their employees include the option to take paid days off to provide volunteer services. Employees love it, and so does the local community.

In this article, we'll talk about what volunteer days are, which organizations to partner with, and how to get started. Let's go!

Volunteer days as a benefit for employees

 Volunteer Time Off as a Workplace Benefit


What are Volunteer Days at Work?

When a company provides a day off to volunteer, employees get paid as usual for a regular work day, but instead of showing up at the office, they offer some help at a local organization.

SHRM's 2013 Employee Benefits report shows a jump in companies offering this kind of benefit -- from 15% in 2009 up to 20% in 2013. And according to Volunteering is CSR (an offshoot of VolunteerMatch.com), employee volunteer programs can improve employee retention, recruiting, sense of purpose and skill development. 

Related: Best Employee Perks & Benefits: Your Ultimate Masterlist


Where to Volunteer

Each local community will have its own needs and its own favorite volunteer organizations. Here are some favorites to look for: 

  • Food banks
  • Animal shelters
  • Affordable housing construction
  • Libraries
  • Nursing homes
  • Community wellness clinics
  • Organizations that provide clean up and litter removal of natural areas

National organizations are a great option too. VolunteerMatch.com is a great resource for finding all kinds of organizations that accept volunteers. Here are some standards: 

  • Red Cross
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • YMCA
  • CASA for Children

Related: 5 Steps to Increase Employee Happiness


volunteer time off for employees


How to Get Started with Volunteer Time Off at Work

A program like this can be pretty flexible. Just make sure you don't take away any of your employees' standard time off and require that they volunteer. That's a sure way to build resentment. However, when employees volunteer at a non-profit organization, there's a possibility that the time spent could be a tax write-off for your company.



Decide the best way for your company to divide up the volunteer days. Will you close for the day while everyone is off volunteering? Or maybe each department can have a certain number of employees taking a volunteer day at the same time. As with any time-off program, you'll want to make sure your company has enough coverage as needed, unless you decide to close for the day.

Companies usually designate volunteer time off in these ways:

  • One day a month 
  • One day a quarter
  • One day a year
  • 4-hour increments that can be spread out over time (i.e., two half days)



Volunteer days off could be taken on a individual basis, where employees take their volunteer day whenever they want. In these cases, it's best to have employees get a form signed from someone at the volunteer location as proof they were there. 

Another option is to have a scheduled company-wide volunteer day. In these cases, employees would all go to the same location to volunteer for the day, which can be a great way to boost team morale. 

Related: What is Company Culture? (And Does it Matter?)


company culture checklist


Topics: employee incentives, company culture, workplace benefits