Let's Talk Levers: Volunteerism

Let's Talk Levers: Volunteerism

By: Emily Kane Miller

The Ethos Lever Model: Volunteerism, Explained

The Ethos Lever Model utilizes fourteen different “Levers” by which an organization can make an impact. Each Lever serves a real opportunity to create value - but when strategically pulled together, result in a powerful and cohesive Social Impact strategy. 

In this blog series, the Ethos team breaks down each Lever - complete with expanded definitions and real-life examples - so you can best understand how to pull the right Levers through your organization's social impact work. See all 14 Levers here.

Lever: Volunteerism

Volunteerism is defined as providing voluntary skilled or unskilled labor. This can be approached in a variety of ways. Some organizations provide employees and members of the company’s community (families with personal interest, investors, etc.) who are interested in volunteering with toolkits that they can distribute to relevant organizations/NGOs within a certain issue space. Others provide paid time off for employees to promote and engage with the populations they personally care about. This is done by allowing employees to focus their efforts on communities of individual importance (alma mater, church, schools where children attend, etc.). While there are many ways to approach volunteerism, all methods help create a stronger and more cohesive society by fostering civic engagement, providing public service and promoting essential acs of citizenship – ultimately leading to increased social connections, and safer and stronger communities.

Maximize Volunteerism Opportunities: 

  • Consider sponsoring team members or consumers
  • Find opportunities to volunteer in community
  • Internal: Paid time off for employees to engage with the populations they care about, promoting awareness of an issue
  • Allow employees to focus their efforts on communities of personal importance (alma mater, church, schools where children attend, etc.) or other local community NGOs your organization wishes to link them with
  • External: Provide employees and members of  your organization’s community (families with personal interest, investors, etc.) who are interested in volunteering with toolkits that they can distribute to relevant organizations within the relevant social impact issue space
  • Run a communications plan that highlights this work as a source of inspiration and brand building for internal and external audiences
  • Over time, assemble a list of the strongest, most effective nonprofits your organization has worked with. Provide these NPOs a volunteer pipeline by promoting these as good organizations among employees and friends

VolunteerismThree Real-Life Examples

1.Snapchat: Snapchat is a multimedia instant messaging app and service that allows people to easily talk to their friends, view Live stories, and explore news.

Snapchat was developed by Snap Inc. which puts importance on giving back and making a lasting impact both in the community and at work. Their giving program focuses on three key pillars that are empowering youth, education, and the arts. Through these pillars, Snapchat volunteers thousands of hours at Snap CAMP (Community, Arts, and Mentorship Projects). Some of the projects include renovating houses for new mothers, offering free coding classes to women in need or finding new ways to give back. Snapchat plans to spend more than $500,00 on community service which does not include donated employee time. 

In addition, employees can take paid time each month to volunteer at a charity that aligns with the three giving pillars. Snapchat is demonstrating the importance of volunteerism by making it an institutional obligation and giving employees opportunities to take time off to give back to charities they are passionate about. Through these efforts, Snapchat is making a real impact in the community and supporting people who are in need. 

2.USAA: USAA serves millions of military members and families with insurance, banking and investment services. 

USAA is grounded on the simple belief of improving the lives of the local community and military. They do this by selecting a number of nonprofit organizations and are making meaningful contributions to society through the passion and skills of their employee and retiree volunteers. 

USAA was founded to be centered around service, which remains a core value today. Their employees, retirees and families are dedicated to supporting both military and local communities by volunteering at hundreds of nonprofit organizations. In 2019, it was reported that more than 570,000 hours were spent helping others. Some of the ways they have volunteered is by repainting picnic tables,cabins and bridges in Chesapeake. Also by filling meal distribution boxes, unloading food to haul inside for seniors to pick up, review materials for classroom curriculum, help to identify and survey San Antonio’s homeless population, and more. USAA demonstrates the importance of volunteerism by providing full-time employees up to two days of paid time per year to volunteer for charitable causes. 


LA LOOP – which is a client of Ethos Giving – creates chic, wearable necklace-solutions designed to keep eyewear safe. Founded by a purpose-driven CEO, LA LOOP has long been committed to celebrating individuals doing incredible volunteerism work in their communities.

For the company’s 20th anniversary, LOOPin was launched to elevate this founding vision and unite its “LOOPers” through a formal social impact program. Doing good is contagious, which is why they share incredible volunteerism stories and opportunities to inspire others to get involved. (LA LOOP also supports this effort by pulling the Community and Cash levers!)

As the company shares, “We activate our tribe of Loopers to serve their communities and build community in the process. We have seen first-hand the power of volunteerism for the individual giving their time and the organization receiving it.”

LA LOOP is a unique example of an organization that brings volunteerism impact beyond its own employees and into the broader community.


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