Growing a Culture of Workplace Volunteerism

Since the inception of Cultivation Center, our team has worked to develop a workplace culture that supports volunteerism. At first, this took the form of a loose consensus that we would each roll-up our sleeves and “donate” some time to the organizations that we love. But this was really nothing new as Cultivation Center attracts team members who have volunteerism in their blood. If anything, we needed to formulate guidelines for how we would volunteer our time as individuals and as a team simply to ensure that we didn’t just “give it all away.”

In the past year, we developed some rigor for how and to whom we provide proBono client services. It is gratifying to work with organizations that benefit so much from a small boost from us through help with a fundraising plan or wrangling a strategic direction into an implementable operational plan. Taking on a quarterly proBono client is just one of the ways that Cultivation Center gives back to its community.

Most recently, we took our company volunteer program to the next level by pulling on our wellies and getting muddy while pitching in during Growing Gardens spring planting season. It was invigorating for our team to step away from the office for a morning to rub elbows with the urban farmers who tend Growing Gardens, as well as other volunteer teams, as we tucked hundreds of broccoli seedlings into tidy rows. Farming is a science different from business development because when we’re digging in the dirt, we can immediately see the difference we’ve made. But still, it is a great metaphor for the day-to-day work of our team: Fruitful results come, in time, from approaching well cultivated ground with an informed plan that can respond and flex in a sometimes unpredictable environment and, of course, from measuring growth throughout the process.

One of the most useful tools we have to help us grow a culture of volunteerism at Cultivation Center is the bi-yearly assessment we apply to our company so that we can maintain our status as a Certified B Corp. Among the many things the assessment measures is how we make a positive impact in our community. As avid volunteers, we welcome the opportunity to quantify our good deeds. Really, it’s fine if they go unnoticed, except for when we’re asked to take a deeper look at the ROI of our volunteer work. We benefit as much from our service as the organizations we are serving. So, it makes sense to have a plan and a program that supports volunteering at our company. With clearer insights about our impact, and the impact that volunteer work has on us, we can more effectively use our time and our resources.

We could toss some seeds here and there, haphazardly giving our time to issues we care about or, more like a farmer, attuning her senses to the environment she is working in, we can nurture volunteerism based on the cues around us, from our team, from our clients, our partners, and our community.

We’re curious, what does volunteerism look like at your company or organization? What do you love most about volunteering in your community?