Benchmark 6

Have solid internal communications



Benchmark 6: “Have solid internal communications” requires wearing a marketer’s hat and seeing your CSR function as a marketing machine.

Benchmark 6 Components:

  1. All employees are aware of all opportunities
  2. Employees have easy access to the tools they need
  3. Multiple CSR comms pushes throughout the year


1. All employees are aware of all opportunities

One of the key barriers companies mentioned time and again was wanting to have greater awareness of the volunteering opportunities on offer amongst employees. Indeed, +Acumen‘s Amy Ahearn believes corporate internal marketing is critical in percentage uptake of volunteering amongst employees.


Especially as they grew in size, companies could no longer rely on blasting out emails to all employees (with opt-in rates as low as 10-20%) and, as such, awareness and ultimately percentage participation rates tended to fall. Successful approaches at scale tended to utilise a mixture of tools such as Slack, Benevity, social media, meetups of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), laptop screensavers & intranet web pages.


Optimizely – which have grown to 400 employees since they were founded in 2010 – enjoy employee participation rates above 85%, simply unheard of! John Leonard, their Senior Programme Manager sees marketing as very much integral to his role (indeed, he has a multitude of prior marketing experience in the non-profit world, as did a fair few other of our interviewees). He pushes for regular speaker slots at their regular company all-hands meetings, gets posters up around the office, sends emails (although not too many), recruits internal ambassadors to cascade his messaging to local offices and more, all of which he believes is a key enabler for their successful volunteering initiatives.


2. Employees have easy access to the tools they need

Being able to offer highly-personalised volunteer experiences is increasingly the expectation for individuals, according to Accenture.


This includes training and employee readiness for volunteering, alongside support throughout. Be sure to provide your employee volunteers with adequate training, a point of contact, and any other resources they may need. For example, IBM have a wealth of education resources to provide their employee volunteers when mentoring students, such as Skills Gateway. Although, often your local delivery partner may be better placed to provide these, so check with them!


3. Multiple CSR comms pushes throughout the year

In addition to celebrating some form of annual “Giving Week”, an intense campaign to raise awareness of and recruit volunteers internally (often in partnership with non-profit / social enterprise partners), many companies found implementing regular pushes for volunteering throughout the year to be very successful.


Kabbage tend to run one highly visible volunteering event per month, whilst Square give each of their Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) a month in the spotlight (which would usually involve a volunteering component).

What each tier does well

Established Company


This tier were comparatively better at giving their employees access to tools, training and other resources that they might need when volunteering, although all tiers could probably focus even more energy on this aspect (or delegate more to third-party experts). 


Did tech help?
EY & IBM were great examples of utilising an online platform / intranet for training, web-based learning, Q&A and sharing of tips between employees. Others preferred to delegate to third-party partners (which worked well) and employees could simply be re-directed to such websites from the company intranet.



This tier were good at having multiple internal communications pushes for volunteering throughout the year (scoring 3.5/5 on avg). They often celebrated an annual “Giving Week” (of some kind), as well as at monthly “All hands” meetings and likely had an awards gathering of some kind.


Did tech help?
Largely it seemed that local employees, with a physical presence on-site, were leading the charge outside of the annual “Giving Week” events. For example, a few high-performers in this tier mentioned letting Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) organise regular events as they saw fit.



SMEs were the strongest tier for all employees being aware of all opportunities. SMEs made the most of their size, utilising in-person “All hands” meetings and local employees to cascade messaging on behalf of the CSR / volunteer lead (often the CEO). They were also more inclined to use collaboration tools such as Slack on a regular basis to share opportunities (rather than subscribing to something like Benevity or Causecast). 


Did tech help?
By virtue of their size, SMEs were able to perform strongly without using much technology, although many did supplement in-person meetings with the regular use online collaboration tools such as Slack.

Filling the gaps

Toggle through each tier below to explore the weakest areas of performance against this benchmark:


How tech might help

There were a few strong High-Growth start-up performers for reaching all employees: they tended to be much more accustomed than Established companies at utilising online collaboration tools such as Slack, Benevity, local intranet to share volunteer opportunities regularly.


Indeed there was a strong correlation to high-performance on this benchmark and use of tech for High-Growth companies (0.9 correlation at 99% CI), yet almost all also relied on physical means (“All-hands” meetings or posters) to further help get the message out or share training resources for volunteers.


More effort to outsource employee training and preparedness for volunteering to third-party partners / experts could be done at an earlier stage across all tiers, with a centralised place for materials (either the partner website or a copy stored on the company intranet). 

Case Studies:

Tech as an enabler

EY Logo

EY utilise multiple means for communicating volunteering opportunities to their 260,000 strong workforce: various different internal email newsletters, the EY intranet, displaying on laptop screensavers, as well as cascading the messaging via employees at all levels. For example, senior Partners are encouraged to share causes they care about within their serviceline, and Counsellor/ ”Buddies” are encouraged to showcase volunteering as a Learning & Development opportunity for employees.

EY also make digital knowledge and experience sharing part and parcel to their volunteering engagement technique. For instance, employees are provided a 2-day training course before being placed into their 6 week skills-based volunteering secondments, and have access to both in person and digital case studies, safety/logistics and cultural trainings provided by third parties. EY also regularly host open Q&A webinars with fellow EY alumni and web-based video e-learning so that employee volunteers have the resources they need on-demand.

Education-specific best practice Logo

Since 2005, has worked to extend the reach of nonprofit innovators and connect them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, tools, and volunteers from around Google. For example, as part of their “Grow with Google” education initiatives, when volunteering with Google grantee Social Finance (who deliver projects preparing underserved young Americans for the workforce), Googlers are provided frameworks, curriculums, analytics and project structure maps to help them directly support the planning and evaluation of their impact in education.


Lever Logo

Lever, a high-growth start-up providing applicant tracking and recruiting software, utilise a multitude of different mediums to ensure all employees are aware of volunteering opportunities, and impressively have been able to maintain this even as they’ve grown to 200 employees. Opportunities are announced across their “All-hands” bi-weekly meetings, amongst teams and dedicated channels via Slack (a team collaboration tool), email newsletters, as well as through cross-functional Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Employees are also encouraged to test their leadership skills by helping lead on volunteering initiatives, and rallying the troops for year round opportunities, outside of the annual “Lever Community Week”.

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