The role volunteering plays in engagement

What does your organisation do to focus on other people outside of your company? Do you have corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in place for example?

ashleyHere Ashley Freeman (pictured), Head of Sales and Marketing at employee engagement company INVOLVE writes for my blog to guide us through what’s possible when it comes to volunteering and fundraising and how it impacts employee engagement. Over to you Ashley… 

Workplace giving and volunteering can have a profound impact on employee engagement


The more we think about involvement, the more we find ourselves going back to the basic neurological instincts of our species.

What makes us tick hasn’t changed much!

It’s basic human instinct to want to be part of a community. It has been that way since the human race began, and extends to all parts of life.

Involvement occurs when employees can define themselves in the context of a working community.

Fundraising and volunteering schemes are a fantastic opportunity to cultivate community within your organisation. The motivation to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause can translate into involvement in real terms.

The warm and fuzzies

When we freely donate time and money to a charitable cause, our brain releases dopamine, according to Jean Decety, of the University of Chicago. Dopamine acts on the pleasure centres of the brain.

Put simply, giving makes us feel good.

Voluntary action helps employees to find their place in the context of a community, and emphasises that they are part of a larger whole – something bigger than company profits or career progression – based on values, giving and community.


Believe it or not, inflatable sharks, palm trees, coconuts and a Caribbean beach bar were all part of INVOLVE’s latest fundraising campaign, and mission to “Pump up our Values.”

Our client director James Prior, a 48-year-old Scot with a penchant for salt and vinegar crisps, recently rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic with the Crewing For Crohn’s team to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

“Crohn’s affects 90,000 people in the UK alone and with Colitis (colon specific) 250,000. This a massive disease, it is sadly far too prevalent, is rarely talked about.” – James Prior

With little shelter, a 2kg luggage allowance and no on-board toilet facilities, the row was a feat of endurance! Each man was rationed only eight wet-wipes a day to avoid smelly lycra and chaffing!

Back at INVOLVE HQ, James’ valiant quest motivated us to raise money for this worthy cause, and inspired involvement around our five core values:

  • Working as a team and respecting individuality
  • Passionate about effectiveness
  • Radiating positive energy
  • Pioneering
  • Making work fun

Rowing__We decided to match James and his team stroke for stroke, by rowing, cycling and running the same distance.

The enthusiasm and commitment was astonishing: “There are queues at 8am to use the rowing machine, cycle helmets racked and stacked in the server room, running pants, sweaty pants and holey pants in the airing cupboard and no one bats an eyelid any more when a half-naked man pads through the office.”- Jane Sladen, INVOLVE

The team took up the challenge, and took it very seriously. With pedometers to measure the kilometres, everyone ‘stuck their oar in!’ There was a lot of love, appreciation and good-natured banter flying around INVOLVE HQ during those weeks.

That’s what we call involvement.

James Prior is a fine example of an employee living and breathing company values. He lives our values when he is in the office, but out on the Atlantic, he was living them to the max!

Our values competition reminded us every day of his trials and tribulations and we are impassioned to spread the word about his amazing adventure.

We united around a common goal, which involved and inspired the team to ‘raise the bar’ when it came to our company values. Our Twitter campaign @crewingforCrohns helped raise awareness for Crohn’s & Colitis UK and expanded the reaches of the INVOLVE community.

James and the ‘Toby Wallace’ crew made it across the Atlantic from Grand Canaria to Port St Charles, Barbados on 15 March 2014 after an astounding 32 days, 22 hours, 31 minutes and 25 seconds at sea.

Crewing For Crohn’s raised over £110,000 for Crohn’s & Colitis UK. What an achievement!

We are so proud of James and the crew, and were blown away by the camaraderie, involvement and sense of achievement their cause cultivated in our organisation.

If you would like to know more about the Crewing For Crohn’s expedition, or the valuable work of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, click here.

Post author: Ashley Freeman
Picture credits: INVOLVE.

Thank you Ashley, I like this example and sounds like you all had fun for a very worthy cause – well done James!

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Thanks as ever for stopping by,


Further reading by Ashley on my blog
Is gamification a winner for employee engagement? 

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