Corporate Goodness: 3 Reasons to Encourage Employees to Volunteer

Mar 25, 2019 By Mark Giordono, Vice President of Development, FIRST




Volunteers cheer on students at FIRST Championship.

Volunteers cheer on students at FIRST Championship.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

I recently participated in a panel about “corporate goodness.” While there’s clearly a continuum of good (and bad ☹) that any company can generate, a base level of “goodness” that any company can enable is via employee engagement. 

The cliché that a company’s employees are its most valuable asset is also true for many of the causes your company may support.* Much of the value delivered by causes is created by volunteers. From cleaning parks to programming websites, causes frequently count on volunteers to do work that needs to be done serving the community or in the back office.

At FIRST, we rely on the support of over 225,000 volunteers to mentor our participants, coach our teams and run over 3,000 events for our 600,000+ youth participants. We estimate that to be a contribution of over 18,000,000 hours/year of volunteer labor (equivalent of about 9,000 FTE)! 

Even with the most generous of benefactors, there’s no way we or other causes could afford to pay for that kind of workforce and make the positive impact we do on society. Thank you, volunteers!

Mentor and mentee at FIRST Championship.

Mentor and mentee at FIRST Championship.

What corporate volunteers get while giving

The best volunteer opportunities can also help employees and their companies get as much they give. These opportunities:

  • Turn employees into recruiters: At FIRST, volunteers (especially mentors) end up scouting and recruiting new employees for their companies. One of our Fortune 500 supporters notes that one-third of their new hires every year have FIRST experience.
  • Build employees’ skills: Skills-based volunteerism can also build leadership and technical skills of current employees. Another of our sponsors has junior staff coach FIRST teams before letting them project manage – having found that if you can manage a team of teenagers, you can manage a team of rocket scientists (literally, in the case of this supporter).
  • Boost employee retention: Volunteerism can also lead to stronger affinity towards an employer, resulting in higher employee retention. A recent Benevity study showed turnover dropped 57 percent in employee groups most deeply connected to their companies’ giving and volunteering efforts.

Don’t forget that causes still require cash to pay for systems, provide trainings, do outreach, and literally to keep the lights on. “Dollars for Doers” programs that reward and match volunteer hours with cash contributions to causes help to close that loop. 

Matching grant programs not only recognize employees’ investments of time, they can also help companies to identify the causes that your employees show they care about with their votes of time. The virtuous circle of skilled volunteers creating impact, volunteers getting while giving, and causes earning contributions to run their mission is a sustainable way to generate “corporate goodness.”

*Read about why FIRST Strategic Partner Qualcomm® Incorporated gives both financial support and 10,000 employee volunteer hours on page 17 in the 2018 Qualcomm Sustainability Report.

If you have an inspiring story or piece of wisdom that you’ve picked up through your experiences in the FIRST community, please reach out to us at and inquire about becoming a guest contributor for Inspire.

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