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Employee Volunteer Programs That Support Budding Entrepreneurs


A group of employees engaging in a volunteer program that supports entrepreneurs

Supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners is a fantastic way for employees to share their expertise, time, and resources (plus, it’s fun and very rewarding!) 


Key takeaways:


  • Employee volunteerism lets people meet new connections, gain new experiences, highlight skills, and it establishes a positive company culture which improves engagement, retention, and looks good for your business.

  • Consider programs like Women of Color Connecting, Small Businesses Need Us, and other programs from IFEL to open doors for historically excluded entrepreneurs.


Are employee engagement and retention top of mind for you? Then you should check out employee volunteer programs! There are many reasons volunteering is awesome. For one, it creates a work environment that challenges and uplifts employees which is key to establishing lasting relationships, innovation, and business growth.


One way to engage employees is to set up a volunteer program which can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Employee volunteerism helps organizations build positive workplace cultures and brand reputations.


Supporting entrepreneurs and young businesses ensures innovation and creativity, and it improves the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the entire business landscape. 


Want to engage employees and take advantage of your leadership experience to support communities through volunteering? Let’s get started! 


Why encourage employees to volunteer?


Prioritizing employee and community development is essential for organizations. Implementing a volunteer program helps achieve these goals while also benefiting the company in several ways:



  • Community impact: Your employees may be well supported with benefits, salaries, and support. But not all members of your community have those luxuries. Encourage employees to give back and use their skills for good, helping those in need.

  • Sense of purpose: Volunteering gives people a way to contribute something positive to the world. This helps people feel purposeful.

  • Improved company culture: Positive behaviors and a sense of purpose lead to better engagement and retention rates.

  • Increased employee engagement and retention: Satisfied employees are more likely to feel engaged with their tasks and end up staying with a company longer. Many people want to work for a company that prioritizes social responsibility and giving back.

  • Enhanced brand image: A commitment to volunteering enhances your company's reputation and attracts top talent.


Giving employees opportunities to engage in meaningful volunteer work not only benefits the community but also enriches their professional and personal lives.


Just read what Jason Thigpen, Chief Technology Officer of Just Right Technology, has to say about volunteering through IFEL: 


“I volunteered because I think back to my journey as an entrepreneur. When I was 13, I first went to see Score, which is an organization I now work with, and I've always received tremendous help and assistance from retired entrepreneurs, folks with tons of experience. So now that I have some experience, I want to give that back as well.”


Next, let’s look at volunteer programs that support entrepreneurs, particularly those that have been historically excluded. 


Volunteer programs that support entrepreneurs


Entrepreneurship needs great support. Not only do small businesses and startups have trouble getting off the ground, but it’s an area that needs more focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a more equitable business playing field. When encouraging employees to volunteer, consider these entrepreneurship-related volunteer programs:


Women of Color Connecting (WOCCON)


This organization from the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) supports women of color through relationship capital connections. Through leveraging the power of the IFEL network, WOCCON is attacking the access to capital barrier from a different angle. WOCCON asks their network of allies, champions, investors, and policymakers to use their relationships and expertise to open more doors for women of color that help them get on the grow-scale-exit trajectory to building wealth through entrepreneurship.


Volunteers can learn more about WOCCON and how to get involved here.


Small Businesses Need Us


Small Businesses Need Us is another program from IFEL that supports small businesses through economic recovery and other pressing needs.


You can work with this organization to help small businesses recover. Small Businesses Need Us also has a corporate volunteer program, so you can engage your team to support and assist small business owners.


Work with IFEL to engage with entrepreneurial communities


The entrepreneurial ecosystem is experiencing a shift, however, there is still a long way to go to create a landscape that is truly fair and equal.


Engaging your employees in volunteer opportunities is always a win! Consider encouraging them to give their time, skills, and resources to entrepreneurial support and promoting inclusion.


IFEL is an independent, nonprofit organization that leverages the power of relationship capital to create pathways to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and small business owners. Founded in 2002, IFEL’s mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent people from historically excluded populations from being able to access the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation.


We are committed to furthering and supporting the efforts of entrepreneurs with a focus on historically overlooked business owners. Aside from our Women of Color Connecting and Small Businesses Need Us programs, we also offer the Making of Black Angels initiative and planning tools to write a business plan, grow a business, and build capital.


Explore all opportunities you and your employees have for volunteering with IFEL, and start making an impact in the entrepreneurship landscape!


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