This article was updated on Oct. 4, 2018.

All over the United States, businesses are looking to create a culture of giving back as part of their corporate identity. One way they're doing it is by offering paid time off to volunteer. Is your organization considering a policy to allow time off to volunteer this year? Here are some reasons why that might be a good business move and how you can do just that.

Volunteering is as American as apple pie. According to the Independent Sector, 62.8 million U.S. adults volunteered 7.9 billion hours of their time in 2014. A firm that supports civic responsibility often looks great to employees, especially millennials. The organization also gains a good reputation within its community: a reputation that can have a favorable impact on your business.

A Growing Trend

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), a nonprofit coalition of CEOs committed to community engagement, published Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition. The coalition surveyed more than 250 large organizations:

  • 61 percent provided paid-release time volunteer programs in 2017
  • 90 percent of businesses matched employee donations
  • 70 percent of organizations gave to recipients outside their headquarters' country

Is Time Off to Volunteer Within Your Business Means?

A business of any size or industry can implement a program that allows time off to volunteer and still respects the company budget. There are, however, certain things to consider.

First, each organization must decide how much time will be allotted for volunteer hours. Will the program offer paid or unpaid time off for volunteering hours? Be sure to think about potential wage and hour implications, for example, deducting exempt employees' pay for company-sanctioned volunteer efforts would likely be considered unlawful. You may also wish to consider capping the paid time off to a certain amount of hours per year, so that it remains affordable.

Second, consider how volunteer time will be validated and tracked, particularly for paid time off. An online payroll system that includes a category for volunteer hours can be a good way to handle this.

Finally, the organization should carefully track how volunteering impacts internal performance. According to UnitedHealth Group, when adults volunteer, employers benefit from better employee health and professional skills development.

Create a written policy for your workforce that addresses all of the above factors, educates employees about the new benefit and encourages them to start thinking about the causes they believe in. Over time, volunteer policies can help improve morale, enhance employees' views of business leadership and encourage a positive view of your organization within the community.

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