Volunteer Programs Help Credit Unions Connect with Their Community


Editor’s Note: Bob Newcomb is President and CEO of SELCO Community Credit Union. He has more than 35 years of experience in the credit union industry, including financial administration, operational execution, strategic planning, and business development. Here, he discusses the benefits of implementing an employee volunteer program.

Adopting an employee volunteer program that encourages and, in many cases, subsidizes employees to spend time volunteering for nonprofits is not the easiest decision for any business. Committing to such a program not only requires a significant financial investment but also demands sacrificing employees’ time, a resource that hardly seems expendable for most organizations.

While those concerns are indeed real, a well-run employee volunteer program (EVP) can be worth every penny and minute.

SELCO Community Credit Union isn’t new to employee volunteerism. However, the credit union only recently adopted a formal EVP, which lets employees volunteer with organizations of their choice. Since its launch in February, the program has already shown its value — for the employees, the credit union, and our community.

We’ve also learned a few things along the way.

To start, employees will fully embrace the opportunity to volunteer. In the first 11 months of SELCO’s program, nearly one-third of employees have chosen to participate, including team members from every SELCO branch and department. In total, those employees have logged over 1,000 volunteer hours. And that doesn’t include the time employees spend volunteering outside of work.

The incredible nonprofits that SELCO’s employees have chosen to support span a wide swath of causes, including local educational foundations, Habitat for Humanity, and local humane societies. The diversity of the work of these nonprofits is matched only by the organizations’ impact on the community.

For a business, a thriving EVP has the immeasurable potential to strengthen the bonds with its community. By taking part in the EVP, employees become de facto ambassadors for the company. And because employees can support the causes they’re most passionate about, they become ideal representatives. In turn, employees further develop their professional and leadership skills.

EVPs produce internal benefits, too — benefits that have the potential to save a business money in the long term.

How can that be?

For one, EVPs can boost morale within the ranks of the company. By inviting employees to engage in causes important to them, they not only experience the joy that comes from volunteering, but they also feel more connected to their employer.

“My employer cares about what I care about” is a notion that our employees have expressed repeatedly since our program launched.

In what has been a historically competitive candidate market, SELCO’s turnover rate has actually decreased since our volunteer program began. This saves on the cost of finding, hiring, and onboarding new employees, of course. But keeping strong employees happy also ensures that they remain engaged and productive in their jobs.

Even more, volunteerism is a draw for new employees. Without prompting, newly hired team members have noted that community involvement was a major factor in choosing to work at SELCO.

When adopting an EVP, it is vital to design the program so that it is an asset for the community and is true to the company’s mission. Engaging stakeholders early in the discussion is key to this goal. Moreover, it is critical to establish clear processes and a strong support system that ensures the program will remain viable for years to come. EVPs are not one-size-fits-all. For SELCO, all of our team members are afforded 20 paid hours each year to volunteer, which could total as many as 7,000 hours across the entire organization. But every program can be scaled or tailored to meet individual business needs.

It’s a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. Because one thing is consistent across all well-run EVPs: Businesses, employees, and — perhaps most importantly — the community benefit in tangible and lasting ways.

Posted in Member News.