For companies
November 1, 2023

5 steps to planning a great employee volunteer event

When a group of folks volunteer together at work, they make a collective, positive impact on their community. But they also become more satisfied, engaged team members – don’t just trust us: there’s data that proves it! 

You already know your team is ready to volunteer together in person, and leadership wants to join too… but you’re staring at a busy company calendar. How do you plan a great group volunteering event when you know everyone is busy? 

Plot out a careful roadmap, of course! By gathering a little data at each stop, you will arrive at the main destination – the volunteer event – with a team completely ready to succeed, build bonds as a group, and make an impact in their community.

First stop on your map: what local nonprofit do you want to support on a key date this year?

It doesn’t need to be January 1 to put key dates on your company calendar. You can plan the anchor dates for volunteering together anytime! Block out a half hour this week and select key dates that are meaningful to your team or company. It might be around a popular cause awareness day like Earth Day, or around a silly one like National Pizza Day. 

As you decide on anchor dates during the next 6-12 months, consider: are the seasons changing at that time? Then organizing donations at the clothing closet of a local shelter is likely in high need. Will it be high school graduation time? Then a local school or workforce nonprofit probably needs mock interviewers to help prepare their students. 

Selecting a nonprofit that needs support when your key company dates are happening will inspire employees to sign up with confidence in their work schedule and ability to participate. But remember, these anchor events are not either/or. A robust volunteering program has culture-building benefits when it includes group events planned on shorter timelines (say, 6 to 8 weeks out) that capitalize on timely local needs that nonprofits have.

Second stop on your map: where should volunteering happen? 

Use your knowledge of your team to pick the best location for this upcoming event. (Community engagement platforms like Field Day lets you filter available volunteer activities for companies by hosting options.)  

If years have passed since your team volunteered together, an onsite event might be best. Setting the event up in the office makes it easy for new volunteers to sign up. You can make fleece tie blankets with Community Warehouse, craft cards with Portland Backpack, or make sack lunches with Path Home (all Portland-based nonprofits)

If your team is more adventurous or has a longer history of group volunteering, head to an offsite location to plant trees, clean up trash, or beautify a local school. 

Volunteers maintaining trails with Forest Park Conservancy in Portland, Oregon

Third stop: when is it easiest to step away from work screens? 

Pick a day of the week and time of the day where the maximum number of folks on your team can be off email and Slack, and out of meetings. It won’t be ideal for every department or team member, but as long as it’s not during an All Hands meeting or mandatory training, go for it!

Fourth stop: how can you recruit volunteers and who can help?

Make the event easy to join – centralize everything your teammates need to know in one place. Here's where Field Day can help: event pages provide a single place to learn about the volunteer activity, sign up, get a calendar invitation and automated reminders, ask questions, and upload photos after the event.

An event page for the Field Day team volunteering with Transition Projects

Once you know the minimum number of volunteers needed to be helpful to the nonprofit; then engage a few tenured employees, managers, or well-connected team members to help you fill the roster. The more recruiters, the better! It’s much easier for a small group of folks to bring one or two colleagues than it is for one person to bring fifteen. 

As the event lead, you don’t have to do it all. When you enlist help from colleagues and use tools to help you streamline the logistics, you have more time to plan a post-event snack for space to reflect on the impact you made together.

Final stop on the roadmap: explain why this matters. 

Enthusiastically share the specifics of the current need in your local community, and then detail exactly how volunteers help. Make sure this is in the event information, then explain it again at the event itself, and finally, after the event, explain and recap it when you share photos and stories in Slack, via email, or in a slide deck before a team update. (Or at all three!)

Connecting the volunteer event you plan to a current need in the community will start a flywheel. When volunteers understand their impact, they tell colleagues, which increases the number of volunteers at future events. 

The act of volunteering improves employee morale. Over time, employees who volunteer extend their tenure and share a positive culture of community engagement with new team members. The flywheel speeds up as volunteering becomes embedded in your company culture, and becomes a positive shared language within the team.

Volunteers building STEM kits for AKA Science in Portland, Oregon


Sometimes, a road trip can look long and intimidating. But with a five-stop roadmap like this one, you can focus on each stop in order and plan a great group volunteer event for your team at work. In summary: 

  1. What local nonprofit do you want to support?
  2. Does onsite or offsite work best for your team? 
  3. When can most people step away from their work screen?
  4. Who can help you recruit volunteers?
  5. Explain why this matters.

Check out the group volunteer activities with local nonprofits on Field Day and find one that works for your team – in the office or at an offsite location, a few weeks from now or in a few months. You’re on your way to success!

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