What Is VTO?

VTO is an employee benefit modelled after Paid Time Off (PTO), allowing employees to volunteer with non-profit organizations. Many volunteer opportunities occur during regular business hours, enabling employees to plan time for helping causes they care about.

VTO is growing in popularity. A group called Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) reports that in 2018, 68% of companies offered some form of paid-release time or VTO, up 4% from the year before. The same report states that, “Eighty-five percent of Americans say they would be likely to support a purpose-driven company in their community, while more than two-thirds (68%) say they would want to work for that company.” The study also states that eight in ten consumers prefer to buy products or services from purposeful brands.”

What Are the Benefits?

Philanthropy through VTO helps your company in both tangible and intangible ways.

Connect With Your Community and Boost Your Brand

Aside from improving your employees’ engagement with your company, VTO helps build connections to your community. Non-profits constantly need volunteers. Making it easier for your employees to help gets the attention of local government and NGO leaders. Positive press aside, contributing your employees’ time boosts your sense of corporate citizenship. It gives you a stake in local outcomes and integrates your company more tightly with your community. And, as noted above, your customers appreciate a company that gives back to their community.

Improve Recruitment and Retention

VTO makes your company more attractive to new employees, especially millennials. A survey by Fortune magazine showed that “nearly two-thirds of people between the ages of 18 and 34 were at least somewhat more likely to want to work for a company that gave to charity than one did that not.” Glassdoor found that 75% of millennials expect their employers to “support groups and individuals in need in their respective communities, either through donations and/or volunteer efforts.” In addition, 51% of workers as a whole “expect their employers to allocate work time and resources for their employees to volunteer for social causes.”

With the competition for workers in the post-pandemic job market, corporate philanthropy can give your company a significant recruitment edge.

VTO improves employee morale, loyalty, and retention by helping employees to align their work with their values. Seeing that their employer “puts their money where their mouth is” to improve people’s lives, makes them feel good about where they work. A study by Non-Profit Source found that “Employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company.” By reducing turnover, VTO can have a direct, positive impact on your bottom line.

How Might You Implement VTO?

A fundamental choice to make when implementing a VTO program is deciding which organizations to support. Would you supply an approved list of organizations that your employees can volunteer with? Employee choice fosters employee engagement because they can choose the causes and groups they care about most. On the other hand, an approved list can tightly focus your company’s giving. You may form ongoing relationships with non-profits that best represent your company’s social mission.

Next, you need to decide how much employee time to allocate. Note that this is in addition to any regular PTO your employees earn. CECP reports that in 2018, 32% of the companies they surveyed offered employees eight hours of VTO per year. That was the most common annual number, but many companies offered more. Across all companies surveyed, the average VTO offering was 20 hours per year. How much time makes sense for your business and your philanthropic goals?

Helping others helps your company 

Many companies are finding that volunteer time off helps their business. Doing so doesn’t have to be expensive and can pay a surprising return on investment. Benefits include:

  • Furthering the non-profits’ goals and reach
  • Improving employee recruitment and retention
  • Increasing consumers’ positive opinions of your company
  • Helping your business build solid, mutually beneficial relationships within your local community.

Determine the baseline for these factors and implement a pilot program to learn whether it’s a good course of action for your company.