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April 3, 2013 – Golden Valley, MN – Representatives of Orion Associates, a management services agency, have released tips for organizations that wish to increase employee volunteerism. Orion reached a milestone recently by achieving an internal goal of 100% employee participation in volunteer activities in 2012.  In honor of National Volunteer Month in April, Orion has prepared a set of lessons learned over the past decade.
“Our nonprofit efforts through Headwaters Relief Organization have been a big part of Orion’s extraordinary record of growth and diversification over the past decade,” said Dr. Rebecca Thomley, CEO of Orion Associates and founder of Headwaters, a non-profit organization that provides housing and emotional support for those affected by disaster. “By providing our employees and community partners with opportunities to serve as volunteers, we’ve created a culture of volunteerism within our family of organizations that not only assists victims of disaster, but also promotes an internal environment of leadership and service.”
Recent studies have shown organizations that foster volunteer opportunities for employees have better results recruiting and retaining staff. In recognition of National Volunteer Month in April 2013, Orion Associates has identified several ways to promote volunteerism and foster teamwork, increase corporate citizenship, and enhance creativity and leadership for both the individual and the organization. Orion Associates volunteerism advice includes:

    • Align with a specific non-profit or cause. Companies will benefit from close partnerships with non-profits that result in streamlined volunteer efforts, stronger and more consistent messaging, and benefits from cause marketing. Organizations don’t have to start their own non-profit, as Orion has, but a close relationship with a non-profit partner will reap strong benefits.
    • Consider offering Paid Time Off. Orion Associates offers Paid Time Off for its workers engaged in volunteer activities. Dr. Thomley says the resulting improvements in morale, leadership skills and staff retainment provide strong ROI for this policy.
    • Create volunteerism goals for the organization. Communicating goals for volunteerism fosters a culture of corporate citizenship and helps create an atmosphere of teamwork. In 2009, Orion Associates created an internal goal to have 90% of its employees engaged in volunteer activities.  The organization reported employee volunteerism rates of 90% in 2010, 97% in 2011 and 100% in 2012.
    • Recognize employee volunteers internally.  Provide special recognition for employees who volunteer and communicate the results of volunteer efforts. This shows the organization has not only committed to volunteerism, but is rewarding its employees for the behavior. Orion has created its own “Leaders in Service” program to help with this process.
    • Publicize volunteer efforts externally. Organizations can gain substantial goodwill for their brand by conducting media relations around non-profit activities. Orion been recognized several times for its commitment to volunteerism in local and national media.
    • Recruit employees as volunteer coordinators. Employees can provide the enthusiasm required to sustain a long-term commitment to volunteerism. Don’t keep it within the HR department either. Find employees throughout the organization and help them foster leadership skills through the process. Orion has several employees who act as administrators for volunteer activities.

Dr. Rebecca Thomley is available to the media during the month of April for interviews regarding volunteerism and National Volunteer Month. Contact Bonnie Harris atharris@waxmarketing.com or 612-801-0912 to arrange an interview.

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