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Hays Gets Neighbourly!

1 November 2023
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In the summer of 2023, Hays UK&I launched their ambitious volunteer campaign ‘Hays Gets Neighbourly’ with an aim of delivering 10,000+ hours of volunteer time to local good causes. This exciting and never-before attempted goal aimed to support local communities and good causes during tough economic times when volunteer numbers are declining.


Every year Hays’ employees are given a paid volunteer day as part of their ‘Helping for your tomorrow’ initiative – and this year Hays provided each employee with a second day, between the 3rd and 14th July, to take part in the campaign.


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The Neighbourly team was able to source hundreds of opportunities up and down the country and worked with Hays to engage their entire workforce with the campaign so that employees could connect with meaningful causes and deliver unprecedented impact.


Neighbourly’s in-depth reporting shows that the volunteers’ efforts supported 82,000 people across 176 good causes across the UK and Ireland.


"Working with Neighbourly enabled us to build a volunteering campaign that mobilised our workforce at an incredible scale. It has been very rewarding to see so many colleagues across the UK&I volunteer in their local communities and quantify the real change created."

- Karen Young, Director at Hays


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One good cause that received volunteer help from a team of Hays employees was Hotwells Primary School, a small, nurturing primary school, nestled in the centre of Bristol. The volunteers supported by redecorating the staff room and a bathroom, as a small school with tight funds this was massively appreciated by staff.


The Chorley in Bloom Group also received a team of Hays colleagues who spent their day weeding, planting and tidying several garden areas. This work was important as the area has become a focal point for the local community and was recently used by Chorley in Bloom in their bid for North West in Bloom.

A Vintage Way to Give Back: Volunteering at Bristol's Multi-Charity Shop

3 October 2023
Neighbourly employee behind the tills at Charity SuperMkt Bristol

This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at Charity SuperMkt in Bristol, an opportunity I found on the Neighbourly platform. This wonderful shop supports various local charities by selling high-quality donated and vintage clothing. 


Headed up by Wayne Hemingway, founder of British fashion brand, Red or Dead and Hemingway Design, and Maria Chenoweth, CEO of the sustainable clothing charity, TRAID, CharitySuper.Mkt is the UK's first ever shop space bringing multiple charities under one roof. The first store opened in London’s Brent Cross before moving to Reading, and pop-ups have since opened in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bluewater and Bristol, where I volunteered.


In Bristol, a total of 11 charities have been lined up to host an area of the store on a rotational basis until the 31st of October, and I chose to volunteer for Great Western Air Ambulance, who have been part of Neighbourly’s network since 2017.


Great Western Air Ambulance, or GWAAC as they are sometimes affectionately known, provide air ambulance services across Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and surrounding areas. The charity is dedicated to bringing critical care to patients when they need it most, helping save lives through rapid emergency response.


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As soon as I arrived at the store, the shop's friendly manager gave me a tour and overview of all the different sections and how to work the till. Each mini "shop within a shop" supports a different cause, from children's hospices to animal welfare groups. I was amazed by the diversity of charities represented under one roof, and the centralised payment system means that shoppers can pay for items from different charities all in one place. 


My main duties involved tidying up clothing racks, organising donations, and helping tidy up displays. It felt good to play even a small part in giving a second lease of life to quality items while also raising money for worthy causes.


The day flew by, and the shop had a great atmosphere, with a really diverse set of customers popping by to browse the clothing on offer. I also really enjoyed chatting with Beth, the member of staff from Great Western Air Ambulance on duty that day, and learning more about the charity and her role. 


To anyone looking for a fun, social and meaningful way to give back, I can't recommend volunteering highly enough. Opportunities like the Charity Super.Mrkt make it easy to get involved and start making a difference.


The Rewards of Giving Back: How Volunteering Drives Employee Success

21 September 2023
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Employee volunteering schemes offer employees the opportunity to volunteer during work hours, and are often designed to fit within an organisation's corporate responsibility or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy, creating a meaningful connection between companies, their employees and the local community.


In 2021, research by Neighbourly and YouGov revealed that organisations that offer employee volunteering programmes have happier workers, and that their workforce is more likely to trust and recommend them to others. Whilst the benefit of this for employers is clear, what about the employees themselves?


1. Stronger relationships and connections with local communities

As workforces are increasingly distanced by remote and hybrid working, and distributed teams, volunteering allows employees to spend time with colleagues and meet new people from other teams. Giving back to society by volunteering also helps to build a connection with members of the local community by recognising the challenges they face, and applying resources to help overcome them. That could be through lending skills or manpower, or the opportunity to improve a shared space or environment which will benefit the whole community. 


2. Development of key skills 

Research has proven the importance volunteering can have in helping individuals to develop their leadership and organisation skills as it encourages individuals to take greater initiative in engaging professionally with individuals outside their own vocation. It also provides opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience, whether that’s public speaking, project management, or working with vulnerable people. Volunteering that involves an activity related to a profession is also an established way to reinforce the skills and abilities used in day-to-day work, by considering how they can be utilised for a different setting or audience. 

3. Improved communication 

From communication and teamwork to organisation and leadership, volunteering builds these practical skills by putting individuals into a new environment and requiring a different way of working. These experiences often allow staff to meet new people from diverse backgrounds, learning through exposure to new perspectives and ways of thinking. 


This increases self confidence, reduces bias, strengthens empathy and establishes a new communication channel between employees and the communities in their surroundings. 


"[Volunteering] can also enhance overall life satisfaction by helping others to provide a sense of purpose and meaning."

4. Enhanced physical and mental health 

Research has shown that, as engaging in altruistic activities releases mood-boosting endorphins, volunteering can have both physical and mental health benefits, including reducing the risk of depression and anxiety and lowering blood pressure. It can also enhance overall life satisfaction by helping to provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Volunteering to support a cause with conviction is linked to higher levels of happiness and lower stress, whilst being part of something with a higher purpose can improve self-esteem.

5. Increased sense of fulfilment and belonging 

Volunteering allows employees to experience different work environments and gain exposure to new ideas. Representing a company in a giving capacity increases a sense of purpose and engagement, making employees feel more positively towards their employers and their role within the organisation. 


With this fresh perspective, employees may find new insight and innovation to bring into their role and personal life. Witnessing volunteer efforts make a difference and have real impact in your local community also delivers a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.



With this wide range of benefits for employers, employees and the community, corporate volunteering programmes are a win-win initiative that can increase engagement and embed social responsibility into an organisation's culture. Offering your workforce volunteering opportunities is an impactful way to empower personal growth and foster connections between your company and the local area.


Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Corporate Volunteering Programme

28 July 2023
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In-house or outsourced? That’s the million dollar question for most businesses when they’re looking at kicking off or scaling up a strategy or programme.


When it comes to corporate social responsibility, more and more businesses are turning to tech and AI to optimise their programmes - whether to increase engagement in employee volunteering programmes, to better track the impact of corporate giving, or to firmly embed social value and ESG strategies into their growth plans. 


In this article we share the top five questions your business should ask itself when it comes to whether or not to outsource your corporate volunteering programme.

How much time do you have available?

Depending on the size of your organisation, outsourcing your corporate volunteering programme could free up substantial internal resources. Using a tech platform to handle the administrative tasks, volunteer coordination, and program evaluation for example, can save your company time and effort whilst enabling you to scale your programme and create a bigger impact.

How many charities do you want to support?

Particularly when it comes to employee volunteering, forming and maintaining connections to local grassroots causes and charities can be a challenge. Outsourcing can not only provide access to a wider network of non-profits and community organisations but the means to connect to those that align closely with the values of your business and your employees. This can help your company expand its reach and connect with new opportunities for engagement.


What's more, with an outsourced solution, the vetting and due diligence is often taken care of, so you know the good causes you're working with are who they say they are.

Do you want to measure and report on your impact? 

For those with a clear vision, running your own in-house volunteering programme gives you complete control over the what and how when it comes to reporting. Deciding what your organisation’s metrics of success isn’t always easy though, and those running their volunteering programme in-house may struggle to stay on top of the activities and impact that’s taking place, affecting their ability to engage key stakeholders around the value/ROI of the programme. 

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Measuring impact: Whether you track your own metrics for success or get expert advice from elsewhere, having your programme's data in one place, like in the impact dashboard example above, is key to tracking the progress and impact of your campaign


Using a tech platform to automate the process of reporting on the impact of your programmes however, can enable you to quickly and simply measure things like social return on investment, the impact on employees and the positive outcomes your programme is creating in communities - all of which are critical measures for businesses looking to demonstrate genuine care for their employees, local communities and wider sustainability goals.

What is your budget? 

Outsourcing your volunteering programme can be more expensive than running it in house. For example, if you're a small company with only 50 employees, managing your own volunteering programme may not incur the same administrative burden as a company with 250+ staff. In this case, the cost:benefit ratio may stack things in favour of running your programme in-house. 


However, for larger businesses, organising hundreds of volunteering events for your employees can simply be infeasible. In that case it’s usually cheaper and more effective to outsource your programme as it means saving on hiring a specialist or taking up precious internal resources.

RSA Volunteers

What are your brand goals? 

All businesses need to consider how their corporate volunteering programme aligns with their company values or purpose. For example, a software company may focus its volunteering programme on getting underrepresented young people into tech employment, whereas a supermarket may wish to focus more on alleviating food poverty.


If you’re finding this process a challenge, working with an outsourced tech platform can provide your business not only with expertise to design a programme that hits home with both your employees and your customers, but provides the means to automate those connections between goal and action, connecting you with a wide range of charities you can partner with to hit your impact goals.

Do you have a strategy for engaging employees in your programme? 

As new generations are entering the workforce, the individual employee experience is fast climbing the corporate agenda. And when it’s done right, employee volunteering programmes can incorporate personalisation and engagement whether outsourced or run in-house. 



To foster greater employee engagement, consider moving away from overly structured volunteering events or too many restrictions around the types of causes you allow your teams to support and think about how you can bring employees with you on the journey. Whether by enabling them to vote for charity partners or impact themes, or encouraging them to get involved in localised volunteering that means something to them. 


If your organisation is struggling to find enough volunteering events and charities to engage your entire employee base, outsourcing your programme to a tech platform can add the necessary flexibility to boost the number and type of opportunities required, as well as support and expertise to meet your engagement goals.


Understanding your businesses unique goals and requirements can be complex. If you'd like to speak to an expert on all things corporate volunteering and the impact your business could make, book a free impact assessment by clicking the blue 'Book an impact assessment' button below.

What's next for Corporate Volunteering in the Purpose Driven Era?

24 May 2023
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Corporate volunteering programmes, workplace initiatives that provide support and resources to enable employees to volunteer, usually during work hours, are not a new idea for building team morale and engagement. However, they've historically been associated with traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, and lean more towards the interest of the business.


You may see 'employee volunteering' and 'corporate volunteering' used interchangeably, but there's a key differentiator here. As pressure increases on businesses to engage employees, boost wellbeing and create genuine positive impact in local communities, there has been a move away from 'corporate' initiatives in favour of renewed focus on the employee's individual sense of purpose in the workplace.


“Impact measurement and reporting has become less of a ‘nice to have’ and more of a ‘must have’”


As impact measurement and reporting becomes less of a ‘nice to have’ and more of a ‘must have’ for businesses to succeed, ESG and CSR initiatives must strive to be fully integrated within an organisation’s purpose to secure a competitive advantage and increase top-line growth. Driving this change are a number of factors including market expectations and new regulations but, above all else, new generations of employees and customers are demanding more from businesses. 


Corporate volunteering for the purpose generation

Numerous studies have found that the younger generations, the so-called ‘purpose generation’, are committed to doing their bit to make the world a better place for everyone. For this generation of employees, actions speak louder than words and sharing a common purpose with their employer builds trust in the relationship, helping to retain talented staff. As such, it is essential for volunteering schemes to become more employee-centric, focusing on needs within local communities and supporting the causes that are close to their hearts, rather than using them as part of a corporate tick-box exercise.



Across the board, employees want to work for businesses that have a proven track record of delivering positive social impact - and ensuring that employee volunteering aligns with this in an impactful and meaningful way is crucial. A focus on developing partnerships with local organisations and good causes allows employees to enjoy rewarding and engaging experiences that have a beneficial impact on wellbeing, resilience and personal growth overall. 


On the receiving end of these purpose-driven volunteers, good causes themselves obtain genuine and well-meaning support from a place of interest and passion, rather than obligation. This in turn enables them to create material impact in their organisations - with local people, and for local people.


employee volunteers from RSA high-fiving

Building trust and happiness through volunteering 

YouGov research, commissioned by Neighbourly, further indicates that strong employee volunteering programmes build trust and happiness in the workforce with seven in ten respondents who volunteered with their company saying they were more likely to trust their employer, compared to less than six in ten of non-volunteers.



Employees that are encouraged to volunteer in ongoing and consistent volunteering schemes are also much more engaged within their place of work leading to greater productivity, higher morale and increased employee satisfaction. Facilitating a meaningful way for employees to benefit charities and good causes in their communities often leads to reports of lower levels of stress, higher self-confidence and reduced risk of depression.


A cultural shift to Employee Volunteering 

Employee volunteering is an impactful way for individuals and businesses to support the communities in which they live and work. And with more and more programmes creating a better balance between the individual and the corporate agenda, employees, businesses and local communities are all set to benefit.


So whilst the change in terminology from ‘corporate’ to ‘employee’ seems small, it marks the beginning of a much bigger cultural shift, paving the way for a community-oriented future, focussed on the greater good.


Looking to create an impactful volunteering programme that balances business and employee purpose and connects your team with good causes that are local to them? Speak to a Neighbourly expert by clicking the ‘Book a demo’ button below.


A day in the life: Employee volunteering in action

31 August 2022
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Here at Neighbourly we live and breathe local communities and good causes. So, naturally, one of our most cherished staff benefits is unlimited volunteering.


Yep, you read that right. Provided we get our jobs done, Neighbourly employees can take unlimited paid volunteering days every year.


It’s something we take huge pride in and, whilst we’re helping other businesses implement employee volunteering for themselves - it makes sense that we get stuck in too.



Shedding some light into what an employee volunteering day might look like, Alice - Neighbourly’s Digital Marketing Manager, shares her day in the life, volunteering at the Community Farm near Bristol.

Volunteering at the Community Farm

The Community Farm is a not-for-profit social enterprise and community owned organic farm based in Chew Magna, near Bristol. As well as producing and delivering nature-friendly and nutritious organic veg boxes to hundreds of people in and around the Bristol area, they run a huge number of educational and wellbeing activities for all ages.

9am - Travelling to the farm

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The Community Farm is set amongst beautiful countryside, right by Chew Valley Lake - about 10 miles from Bristol. As I don’t drive, I hop on my bike and cycle over to the farm following a lovely quiet (and largely off road) cycle route (thanks Sustrans!). It’s about an hour's ride but the weather is sunny and I’m glad to be outside enjoying the fresh air.

10am - Meet at the community farm yurt 

About six people are volunteering at the farm today. Some have been coming for years and volunteer every week, others pop down when they can - but it’s rare to see someone volunteer for the first time and not want to keep coming back. 


We usually start our day by meeting at the yurt. The yurt is a space used for many different farm, volunteer and community activities. It’s a fantastic space and even has its own pizza oven outside. There’s lots to do today though, so we don’t hang about. 


Gardening gloves are donned, sun cream applied and water bottles filled, we get ready to start the day.

10:15 - Broadly speaking

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The first big job of the day is picking the broad beans. Despite having been picked by volunteers just a few days before, the smaller ones are already plumped up. After a quick lesson on picking technique and how to spot the biggest and plumpest broad beans, we get to it.


There’s always some good chat from volunteer coordinator Ian whilst we’re working on farm tasks. Today he is telling us all about this book he’s been reading called ‘Immense World’ by award-winning science writer Ed Yong which talks about the amazing power of animal senses. 


His favourite fact from the book was the discovery that just 1mg of Atta Texana (Texas leafcutter ant) pheromone could theoretically lead a column of ants round the world three(!) times.


Ants aside, I find picking broad beans quite peaceful and meditative and before I know it we’ve plucked over 80kg of broad beans between us. Time for some well-earned lunch.

1pm - Lunch (and cake)

Volunteers sitting on log stumps eating lunch

Sitting under the garden shelter we eat our lunch whilst chatting to some of the farm staff, one of whom brought cake as this was his last day working at the farm before moving on to pastures anew. 


Not long into our lunch break, another team member comes rushing out of the kitchen. She’s found a baby shrew in the sink! The farm is full of wildlife but this particular find is especially cute. Whilst little shrew doesn’t seem too impressed about being removed from the sink, we feel it’s in its best interests.

2pm - Heave hoe

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After lunch it’s off to the brassicas. In organic farming, some weeds can be useful as they keep the pests out - but these lanes of purple kale and cavolo nero have become a little overrun. Time to give them some space with a round of hoeing.


Hoes are a tool that efficiently scrape away the weeds in between the plants and, with weak roots, proved quite a satisfying task. In just a few hours, we’ve cleared the weeds and it’s time to wrap up for the day.

4pm - Get yer veg on the edge

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The Community Farm aims for absolutely nothing to go to waste. Their walk-in fridge contains a shelf called ‘veg on the edge’ which is a free-for-all for staff and volunteers to collect anything that’s wonky or needs using up quickly.


I grab some courgettes, a green pepper, some broccoli and an amazing looking conjoined cucumber as my ‘earnings’ for the day.


Outside the fridge often sits a crate of veg that’s gone a touch too far or is a little woody. This gets sent off to be fed to the pigs.


There is also a community of pickers called ‘gleaners’ in the UK that come to the farm to pick whatever's been left in the field. Home growers know that sometimes you just get such a huge glut of something (courgettes and runner beans seem to be common ones) that you just can’t pick and use it all up - and it’s the same at the Community Farm. 


The gleaners that come to the Community Farm come to pick all that’s left and transport it to be distributed by local food banks and community kitchens.

4:30 - Rolling home

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It’s been a tiring but fulfilling day at the farm and I leave for the cycle back to Bristol with a smile on my face. 


With the heat of high summer, I can’t resist a little stop for rest and water at the top of this hill - plus it gives me time to enjoy the view.

Reflections

Being able to volunteer is incredibly important to me as an employee at Neighbourly - enabling connection to my local community to be something I can experience not only in my spare time but as part of my working life. At the same time, it's extremely concerning to see and hear about the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on the most vulnerable people and the organisations that support them.


The Community Farm has been hitting the local headlines of late. Having lost 50% of its organic veg box subscribers in the last year, as many households cut down on spending, they are now on the brink of closure. Along with the thousands of small charities and good causes across the UK and Ireland, this crisis is already taking its toll - and it’s the contribution of volunteer time, funding and the support of customers that will help prevent the collapse of this incredible web of community support.


It’s also why it’s ever more important for businesses to embrace or further embed their employee volunteering programmes. Not only so that staff can see that their employer is invested in the causes they care most about - but to enable real action by real people in communities during a time of immense suffering and hardship, allowing us all to weather the storm.


This year Neighbourly has released a brand new guide ‘Volunteering: The Key to Employee Engagement’ - if you’d like to find out more about employee volunteering or how to create scale and maximise a corporate volunteering programme, it’s a great place to start.

How to build an engaging volunteering programme

20 July 2022
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An evident rise in social consciousness is intensifying the war for talent; transforming workforce expectations and driving an increasingly urgent need to improve employee engagement. 


Employee volunteering programmes are being used to drive this engagement - and unsurprisingly so. Saying that your business has helped 100,000 people is a powerful way to show employees the impact they’re making, in turn helping them to feel more connected to the programme.. 


The most effective volunteering programmes enable staff to better connect with their local communities, igniting a sense of satisfaction from supporting those in need. In fact, YouGov research commissioned by Neighbourly in 2021 found that employees in organisations that offer volunteering programmes are happier and more likely to trust and recommend their employer to others. 


However, recognising the link between volunteering and employee engagement is only the start.

Employee volunteering strategy

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To move from planning to activating a successful volunteering programme requires a multifaceted strategy. The more that volunteering and community action are ingrained in the culture of a company, the easier they will be to execute and, in turn, foster greater employee engagement. Aligning a volunteering programme with company values will ensure it’s an integral part of your ESG plan as well as serving as evidence that the business is living its values. 


At a time where businesses are often faced with staff shortages due to the ongoing impact of covid and Brexit, it’s important to consider how you can build an inclusive volunteering programme. For example, micro-volunteering takes into consideration that time-poor employees are more likely to volunteer their skills in small, convenient chunks, allowing them the opportunity to contribute to a larger community project in a flexible way. Remote volunteering gives employees who can’t or don’t want to leave their house the chance to make a difference in a way that is comfortable and, equally as valuable.    


Companies that are particularly good at this will often include their volunteering policy in the job descriptions of all employees as well as job adverts, therefore new joiners know from day one that volunteering is important to their employer. 

Overcoming barriers to employee volunteering

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One blocker to the uptake of such programmes is the sense among employees that they require permission to take time away from their main work responsibilities to volunteer. However, the more they feel their manager is behind their volunteering efforts, the more engaged they will be. 


Including these programmes within the KPIs that line managers actively and regularly check on further encourages employees to put themselves forward for volunteering opportunities. 


The KPIs used to evaluate the success of employee volunteering programmes can also influence overall success in relation to employee engagement. The most successful programmes tend to report on the number of lives they have been able to positively impact, rather than focussing on the number of employees that have taken part or the hours they have clocked. 


By focusing on human impact, rather than raw numbers, employees will feel more connected to the cause, fulfilled by their experience and thus motivated to partake in the programme repeatedly. 

The benefits of an engaging employee volunteering programme

Creating a volunteering programme that your employees care about is an effective long-term strategy that improves talent recruitment and retention over time by demonstrating that the business values are integral to the culture. This ultimately feeds into the bottom line by ensuring that employees are better connected, happier, healthier and more trusting of their employer.

The corporate giving campaigns supporting local communities this Giving Tuesday

30 November 2021
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Today is Giving Tuesday - an international day where people are encouraged to take something positive from the year and make a difference by giving back to charity.


This Christmas is expected to be one of the busiest yet for the food banks, good causes and community groups looking after those most in need in our local communities - with rising fuel costs and the removal of the Universal Credit uplift tipping more families and vulnerable people into crisis.


Here at Neighbourly, we’ve been working with businesses like Aldi, Samsung, Sainsbury’s and Heineken to help them make a difference this festive season.


To celebrate Giving Tuesday, we’re highlighting some of these giving campaigns to help share what is being done - along with some tips on how individuals can offer a helping hand in their communities too.

Aldi - 1.8M meals 

With a little help from Kevin the Carrot and Marcus Radishford, Aldi has pledged to donate a huge 1.8M meals through the festive season, made up of surplus food donations to the causes that are linked to individual stores, as well as financial donations to causes supporting families.


You can hear more about Aldi’s pledge (and see the Neighbourly delivery cart!) in their pun-tastic Christmas ad.



As well as Aldi’s individual pledge, supermarkets Sainsbury’s, Lidl and M&S will continue to run their food surplus redistribution programme through the Neighbourly platform - donating thousands of meals worth of food over the festive period, with extra donations on Christmas eve and New Year’s eve.



Festive Employee Volunteering

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Christmas is often a time when people consider giving back by volunteering. But through Neighbourly’s employee volunteering programmes, staff from the likes of Danone, Samsung, Cocacola EP, Cadent and M&G have been offering their spare time to local good causes throughout the year. As we enter winter, many are encouraging even more employees to get involved and make a difference.


Staff at M&G will be partnering with causes supporting those experiencing loneliness and isolation this Christmas - taking part in Covid-safe card and letter writing to boost people’s wellbeing and make them feel cared for.


Meanwhile Cadent’s new social value volunteering scheme, launched this November, will see employees volunteering on everything from packing festive food parcels and restoring peatlands to transforming spaces into hubs for education.


Find out more about Neighbourly’s employee volunteering programmes here.



Heineken - Brewing Good Cheer

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As the UK’s leading pub, cider and beer business, Heineken is a passionate supporter of the great British pub and the important role pubs play in communities all around the UK. 


Following a pause during the pandemic, Brewing Good Cheer is now in its fifth year, and is one the longest running community giving campaigns Heineken has run through the Neighbourly platform.


This year’s Brewing Good Cheer programme will see Heineken working with their pubs and with 140 good causes and their beneficiaries to support people that have experienced social isolation in the last year.

Penguin Book Donations

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Since 2020, Penguin has been donating books to good causes, community groups and food banks to help provide equal access to reading.


So far Penguin has donated over 120,000 books and they are not stopping there. The publisher has already connected with a number of causes through the Neighbourly platform and will be donating hundreds more books to supplement festive food parcels this year.

Grants and funding

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On top of donating surplus food to good causes, Sainsbury’s ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’ grants programme has been supporting hundreds of local food charities and good causes as nominated by Sainsbury’s staff. These grants will continue to be paid out through December and beyond, helping good causes meet the demand of the festive season.


But as any hard working volunteer or charity staff member will know, funding and grants offer critical sources of financial support to keep services running throughout the year. In 2021 alone, Neighbourly has facilitated a number of grant and giving programmes, partnering with the B&Q Foundation, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Heineken, Virgin Media O2, Southern Co-op, RSA, Cadent, Coca-Cola EP, Danone and M&G to distribute vital funds to local communities covering a wide range of impact themes.


If you’re a good cause or charity that wants to stay up to date on new grant opportunities, register on the Neighbourly platform for free.



How can individuals support their local communities?

As an individual, there are plenty of ways you can support local good causes and people in your community. Here are two easy things you can do this Giving Tuesday:

Make a donation

Last year, following the success of the Neighbourly Community Fund which supported over 3,000 local good causes through the Covid-19 pandemic, we set up registered charity - the Neighbourly Foundation - which continues to channel funding and grants to Neighbourly’s network of over 18,000 local good causes. 


If you usually make a charitable donation on Giving Tuesday or over Christmas, but aren’t sure where best to donate this year, donating to the Neighbourly Foundation is a great way to ensure you are helping local communities and people in need across the UK and Ireland - supporting everything from mental health services to food poverty and homelessness.


In addition, if you're an M&S Sparks member or card holder, you can set the Neighbourly Foundation as your charity of choice. Then, for every purchase you make at M&S, a donation will be made.


If you prefer, you can also donate directly to individual good causes registered on the Neighbourly platform. Have a look through the good causes that have set up fundraising pots.

Give to your local Food Bank

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On your next trip to the supermarket, don’t forget to buy an item or two to pop in one of the many customer donation points available at Aldi, Lidl and Southern Co-op. 


Aldi’s donation points also accept items from any brand of supermarket, so are perfect for those unopened and in-date dry goods and tins you might have in your cupboards that would otherwise go unused.


You can also donate directly to your local food bank or community group. Use the Neighbourly search function to find your nearest good cause. Those running campaigns for donations of food or gifts often share exactly what they need most via social channels like Facebook - so don’t forget to check them out to see what’s on their wishlist.


Thanks for getting involved in Giving Tuesday. To find out the latest Neighbourly news this Christmas and beyond, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Employee volunteering creates a happier workforce, research finds

4 June 2021
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Organisations that offer employee volunteering programmes have happier workers which are more likely to trust and recommend them to others, new research by YouGov has revealed.

 

Volunteering for local causes has long been recognised as a way of increasing wellbeing while creating positive impact in the community. The positive effects of volunteering on personal wellbeing last up to three months and equate to a monetary value of £1,800 per volunteer, according to a recent LSE analysis of the NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

 

YouGov’s research, commissioned by Neighbourly to understand the positive impact of employer led volunteer programmes, supports these findings. Six in ten volunteers, through an employee programme, rated their general happiness at seven out of ten or more, compared with only 55% of employees who have never volunteered. A happier workforce is a more effective one, with previous TUC research showing higher wellbeing results in better productivity and fewer sick days.

 

Employees who have done employer-supported volunteering are also more likely to recommend the company they work for, YouGov’s study found. While only half of survey respondents who had never volunteered recommended their employer, this rose significantly to 70% among those who had volunteered through an employer-led programme.

Fuelling trust in businesses

These figures were similarly reflected when workers were asked how much they trust their company. Previous research by Neighbourly has highlighted the importance of trust in attracting and retaining customers, with 96% of consumers more likely to purchase from a brand they trust. But the latest YouGov study shows trust is also vital to retaining talented staff in the long-term, and wellbeing is closely linked. Seven in ten respondents who volunteered with their company were more likely to trust their employer, compared to 57% of non-volunteers.

 

In PwC's Annual Global CEO Survey, 55% of CEOs said they are concerned about trust in business today. Overall, the cost to replace an employee earning the average UK salary of £27,721 could cost up to £12,000, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This is based on a combination of using a recruiter to source the talent and the hours an owner would spend hiring the right candidate – creating a substantial hidden cost for any business to front, especially if they are in an industry with a high staff turnover.

 

To sustain staff wellbeing, trust and recommendations, employee volunteering programmes need to be enduring and consistent, with HR and CSR teams considering them as a regular part of the package. This was evidenced strongly in the YouGov research, which found staff who had volunteered in the last three months were 26% more likely to recommend their employer than those who volunteered over a year ago. Similarly, those who volunteered in the last three months were 25% more trusting of their employer than those who volunteered over a year ago, with 81% of recent volunteers rating their trust seven out of ten or higher.

A new generation of volunteers

The pandemic shifted the nature of many kinds of volunteering from in-person to remote or virtual. This has opened up opportunities to thousands of people who were potentially anxious about meeting new people in a strange environment and has transformed the demographics of volunteering.


Neighbourly’s community insights have historically demonstrated that over three-quarters of volunteers who administer local causes are aged over 40. Yet while the YouGov poll found under-35s are the least likely to volunteer in their own time, they are in fact the most likely to volunteer as part of a workplace scheme, showing just how important such programmes are.


With younger workers among the most difficult to engage, it’s clear that volunteering should form a crucial and integral part of keeping employees connected, productive and, of course, happy. Needless to say, while positively impacting businesses and staff, a strong, consistent employee volunteering programme can have a tremendous impact on charities and local causes. The more widespread such efforts become in companies, the greater benefits for all.


If you’re interested in developing an employee volunteering programme for your staff, learn more by clicking the ‘More about employee volunteering’ button below.

Q&A: A Year in the Life of a Virtual Volunteer - a Volunteer’s Week Special

1 June 2021
lasmin and beth volunteers week

This time last year, Neighbourly was in the midst of launching its first ever virtual volunteering programme, connecting employees from partner businesses across the country with local good causes to support with everything from marketing and finance to virtual workshops for young people. 


Beth Underwood, B Corp Manager at Danone Dairies, was one of first to jump at the opportunity to volunteer and was connected with two good causes - supporting those struggling with their mental health via Dorset Mind, and as a befriender for Greenwich Hospice - where she was matched with Lasmin.



To celebrate all that volunteers do during Volunteer’s Week, we caught up with Beth one year on from starting her journey as a virtual volunteer befriender - just as an ease in lockdown restrictions meant she was able to meet Lasmin in person for the very first time.


“[Virtual volunteering] has given me a real sense of purpose”


Here’s what Beth has to say about becoming a remote volunteer during the pandemic and why she thinks it's something others should consider.


Neighbourly: What is your main takeaway from the experience of being a volunteer befriender through Danone's employee volunteering programme?

 

Beth Underwood: Volunteering virtually throughout the pandemic has been a really rewarding experience. It’s definitely given me a real sense of purpose.

 

My family and friends thought I was a bit mad when I signed up to two long-term volunteering programmes (Dorset Mind and Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice) this time last year, as my job was really busy at that time, but for me it was a great way to switch off from work and focus on something else. 


My biggest takeaway is that volunteering has actually helped me feel less stressed and less overwhelmed by my to-do list.

 

NB: What are the benefits and challenges of volunteering from home?

 

BU: The benefits of virtual volunteering are that you do not even have to move from your sofa and you can be making a massive difference to someone else's day. 


Prior to the pandemic, I liked the idea of doing regular volunteering in person, but I think I would've found this difficult to maintain, and a little exhausting alongside commuting to work and back every day.

 

I often complete my volunteering on the phone whilst on a walk, so that I'm getting fresh air and exercise at the same time. The personal benefits of long-term volunteering are that you can make a bigger impact on a cause you believe in (for me mental health and loneliness).

 

The challenge with any sort of volunteering is time management. There definitely have been days where I’ve been tempted to reschedule a call, but I’ve tried to avoid this as much as possible as I think stability is important for people suffering from mental illness or loneliness.

 

NB: What has kept you motivated to continue and what do you feel are the benefits of long-term over short-term volunteering?

 

BU: One-off team volunteering days are great and you can make a huge difference to charities using your combined skills. However, since school when I used to do a lot of volunteering in the local care home, I've always preferred the idea of longer-term individual volunteering. The biggest personal benefit to long-term volunteering is that you gain soft skills including communication.


“When we talk [Lasmin] makes me laugh a lot… which always brightens my mood.”

 

With longer-term volunteering, you also have the opportunity to build strong relationships with people outside of your normal social bubble. I’ve loved learning Lasmin’s perspective on things like racism, Jamaican food, working for the army, working as an intensive care nurse, and US politics.

 

It hasn’t taken anything to be motivated to continue speaking to Lasmin, she is so flexible around when we talk and she makes me laugh a lot every week which always brightens my mood. When I talk to Lasmin now it feels more like chatting to a very interesting friend, not a volunteering client.

 

It's taken a little more motivation to continue being a befriender for Dorset Mind as it requires more brain power to complete the more structured goal-setting program. Dorset Mind requires you to track your progress every week and update the team on your client. 


However, Dorset Mind provides amazing services to support their befriender volunteers – often facilitating learning sessions, creating a buddy system so that you always have someone to speak to, and making you feel part of a team with weekly newsletters.


lasmin volunteers week

NB: What does it mean to you to have finally met Lasmin face to face?

 

BU: It was quite a surreal experience. We had both seen just one photo of each other, but we immediately said that each other were exactly as we had imagined.


Seeing Lasmin face to face was just as easy and comfortable as it was speaking to her over the phone every week for the last year so any nerves disappeared straight away. Lasmin said she couldn’t sleep as she was so excited to have a visitor and kept saying how happy she was to see me which made it all worth it.


“[Virtual volunteering] makes me feel valued, important and helpful”

 

When we went to the shops together, I loved seeing how Lasmin knew everyone in her community and was making everyone laugh as she went about buying her food. I didn’t realise this at the time but she was also buying one of everything for me, so as I left she also handed me her favourite Caribbean foods to try.

 

When I left Lasmin was upset which also made me sad as I realised how much the visit and calls meant to her. I've promised her we'll arrange another date for me to go and visit again and of course continue the weekly calls.

 

NB: Would you encourage others to get involved in employee volunteering?

 

BU: I couldn't recommend it more, volunteering as an employee alongside your day job. It makes you feel valued, important and helpful. When you've had a bad day it's so nice to talk to someone completely outside of your family, friends and work life and just hear about their life and not think about what's going on in your world for half an hour. 


It's a perfect opportunity to practice the art of listening. I usually only ask questions whilst volunteering and it is quite a 'one way' conversation but for me that's the bit I like the most. It's really energising to have a conversation like this.

Community Friendships

As well as being a rewarding and affirming experience for Beth, having someone to talk to and build a friendship with during the pandemic has had a huge impact on Lasmin, the patient at Greenwich Hospice who was matched with Beth last year. 


After meeting Beth for the first time, Lasmin said: “After speaking to Beth on the phone for a year, I wondered if I would ever meet her. I was so happy when we planned that she would come and see me at home and I am not embarrassed to say I shed a few tears.


“Everything has been so out of the ordinary because of the pandemic and Beth has been just the sort of person that a patient needs. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met and I am looking forward to seeing her again soon.”


Huge thanks to Beth for taking the time to share her experience of remote volunteering and befriending over the last year. To stay up-to-date with the latest stories, case studies and research from Neighbourly, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn


If you’re a business that’s looking to find out more about remote and in-person volunteering programmes, click the blue button below.