Friday, March 4, 2011

How To Start a Local Business Volunteer Council

Here in the SF area, across the bay, lies a group of communities called the East Bay where businesses care about by giving back through volunteering and donations. As an example, last year we referred to an article, that emerged from the East Bay, Why Giving is Good for Business.  Now we get to see a role model of a group of businesses that have joined forces in the mission of volunteering for local charities in their community.

East Bay Business Volunteer Council (BVC) was founded by individuals from companies such as AAA, Charles Schwab, Safeway and others, as a coalition of businesses with the common purpose of community engagement and business volunteering. At their regularly scheduled meetings,  they provide the opportunity for members to exchange information and recognize best practices as well as identify and learn about the volunteering needs in the community. With membership there is free consulting provided by the staff to members on how to develop a volunteer program. Their programs include listings of volunteer needs, student volunteering, volunteer opportunity calender, holiday volunteering events, and organized disaster response. They are affiliated with HandsonNetwork. This organization is a terrific model for any community of businesses to follow.

How to start a similar business Volunteer Council in your community or area.

  • Brainstorm together with a few like minded business leaders on how to start such a group.
  • Tie in with a local community foundation, or Chamber of Commerce to set up an organization. This helps offset any start up costs of creating a non-profit on your own.
  • Develop a mission  and vision statement that reflects the needs of your community and of what your organization wants to accomplish.
  • Create an affiliation with a volunteer opportunities provider such as Hands On Network, or with a local organization such as a community foundation. 
  • Develop a database of all the non-profits in the area and their volunteer needs
  • Develop relationships with local non-profits, with links to their websites.
  • Structure monthly meeting times at opportune, breakfast, lunch, or after hours, that is convenient for most and serve food!
  • Publicize your organization in local media or through direct marketing though the business community, to encourage more businesses to join.
  • Invite local non-profits to come to the meetings or better yet, create a membership category just for them.
  • Let businesses know what the benefits are to their business for joining the organization.
  • Offer members free consultation to help with developing an employee volunteer program.

What are the benefit's?  BVC describes this well on their website. But the benefits are much the same as described in the article cited above. Basically, giving back whether in time, money, services is good for your business because it helps build your community and in the end the community helps your business grow.

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