Creating a Successful Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program

Creating a Successful Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program

What does it mean for a business to be involved in the community? For Trout CPA, community involvement is part of our DNA. Our firm is committed to making a positive impact on the communities in which we live and do business. Our commitment includes hosting various fundraisers such as the Blanket Drive benefitting domestic violence victims and the LGH Blood Drive. In addition, we donate over $90,000 annually to non-profit organizations through sponsorships and monetary donations.

Although donations are important, donating your time can be equally beneficial for the organization and volunteer. As individuals, we typically have causes that mean something to us. In 2017, Trout CPA started our Volunteer Time Off Program, which gives each employee up to 8 hours per year of paid time off (PTO) to volunteer at a charity of their choice.

“The purpose of this policy is to encourage employees to participate in activities that enhance and serve our local communities. We recognize that participating in these sorts of activities enriches the lives of our employees.” Said Joe Biesecker, Director of Human Resources.

A 2017 study by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch discovered “employee volunteerism positively affects the health and well-being of the people who participate and strengthens their connections to their employers.” However, a 2019 Employee Benefits Survey by SHRM, found only 26% of employers offer paid time off for volunteering.

So, how does a business create a successful Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program?

Step 1: Set-up the Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program

Your business needs to include details of the program including:

  • How much volunteer paid time off is available
  • Who is eligible to participate (e.g. only full-time employees, all full-time and part-time employees)
  • What types of activities are appropriate
  • What type of organizations are approved (e.g. non-profit 501c3)
  • Stipulations for when hours can’t be used (e.g. if you have a busy time of the year)
  • The process for approving the volunteer paid time off


Step 2: Get Buy-In. As with any new program, before announcing the program to employees you should get the appropriate buy-in.

Step 3: Education. Introduce the program to all current employees and discuss this program in all your onboarding training with new hires.

Step 4: Recognize Volunteerism. For this program to have the most success, your business should recognize its employee’s volunteerism. Recognition could be as simple as summarizing the number of PTO volunteer hours in a meeting or highlighting volunteer experiences on social media.

Step 5: Assess & Tweak. Many companies make the mistake of implementing a new program but never assessing how the program is working and making changes to improve it. Are employees taking advantage of the Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program? If not, why? How can your business better promote the program?


Q&A: Trout CPA’s Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program

In this section, we hear directly from employees about their experience with Trout CPA’s Volunteer Time Off Program (VTO).


Tell us about the organization where you volunteer

I volunteer at Junior Achievement, an organization that strives to prepare young people to succeed in life and to help to give them foundational tools to do so. Junior Achievement uses volunteers to come into schools and teach lessons on economics, promote financial capability, business ownership, and more. The program ranges from elementary kids learning the basics of money and saving to older kids learning economic principles and how basic financial tools like credit cards actually work.

How long have you volunteered with this organization?

I volunteered with this organization for two years before the COVID pandemic. I plan to continue volunteering with this program once schools open up to allow this program back.

Why did you choose to volunteer with Junior Achievement?

I enjoy all kinds of volunteer opportunities and especially love working with students to provide meaningful educational opportunities. I like how the Junior Achievement Program offers excellent resources to kids of all ages to begin to learn financial and economic skills that will benefit them later in life.

Why do you like the VTO program?

It is amazing that Trout CPA allows employees time off to volunteer. It is clear that they care about the community, and this program will enable me to help serve the community and educate the young students in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

When and where was the first time you volunteered?

My first significant volunteer experience was a missions trip to Haiti when I was 16 (very ironic your example was so similar!). I worked in a summer school teaching various subjects with primarily elementary students. The program also provided older students with trade skills (computer skills, electrician, carpentry, etc.) that would be valuable in building careers and growing their community. The experience was amazing, and ever since then, my volunteer passion has been related to education and helping children grow to reach their fullest potential.



Tell us about the organization where you volunteer

I have been a member of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Finance Committee since 2021. Their organization’s core purpose is to enrich, entertain and educate the South Central Pennsylvania community through various programs, including Play It Forward, Instrument Test Drive, Gift of Music, LSO Neighborhood Series, and more.

Why did you choose to volunteer with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra?

I believe in the arts education work that the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra provides to the schools in Lancaster City. I enjoy the artist culture of our central Pennsylvania community.  Life would be boring if we were all accountants. 😊

What does volunteering mean to you?

My drive for volunteering comes from my belief that we all should take care of our community. This is my way of supporting the organizations making a difference for people. 

Why do you like the VTO program?

I like that Trout CPA supports and encourages their employees to take time to give back. 

When and where was the first time you volunteered?

I cannot remember the first time I volunteered. Volunteering has been something that has always been part of my family culture. It’s how my family has always shown love and compassion and cared for our community. 

Do you volunteer anywhere else besides the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra?

I have been an in-classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement since 2010. Education and financial literacy have been very critical to my personal successes. I enjoy the organization’s programming and spending time with the students to help them learn something. I also volunteer in the Central PA Food Bank Warehouse because I believe in their mission and that no one should go hungry in this country. 



Tell us about the organization where you volunteer

I have volunteered with the CAP of Lancaster - Domestic Violence Shelter for six years, during which I helped organize an annual Blanket Drive.

DVS provides free, confidential services and is committed to serving all victims of domestic violence and their dependent children. In addition to counseling victims and offering a multi-faceted program for children, their Safe House provides a temporary safe place for victims.

Why do you choose to volunteer?

Volunteering makes me feel better connected to the community, and I enjoy helping other people.



Tell us about the organization where you volunteer

I used my Volunteer Time Off to volunteer at the Central Pennsylvania Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Seminar. HOBY is a nationwide organization that provides leadership development skills to high school sophomores across the country.

How long have you volunteered with Central Pennsylvania Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership?

I have been volunteering with HOBY for ten years now. I started as a member of Team Alumni during my junior and senior years of high school, became a group facilitator, and I now serve on the board of directors year-round. In addition, I am a Facilitator at their seminars.

Why did you choose to volunteer with this organization?

I am really passionate about this organization because it empowers young students to tap into their unique abilities while also actively recognizing the talents and skills of those around them to form effective and accepting teams. I am also extremely passionate about their “leadership through service” initiative instilled in their ambassadors and volunteers alike. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was an ambassador, and I know it was a life-changing experience for me.

What does volunteering mean to you?

I view volunteerism as a privilege to serve others and better the community around you. Ultimately, I think it is an opportunity to think beyond yourself and improve the world around you for the benefit of others.

Tell us about the first time you volunteered

I began volunteering in elementary school with my mother. She helped revitalize a “Kids at Risk” program in my hometown, which provides school supplies and basic necessities to kids who are at risk of falling behind due to not having access to those things.

What do you think about Trout CPA’s VTO program?

I appreciate the VTO program because I am not only able to continue to volunteer with the non-profit organizations I’m passionate about, but I am also encouraged to participate.



Tell us about the organization where you volunteer

While working for Trout CPA, I’ve had the opportunity to utilize the VTO program as part of the United Way of Lancaster County’s Annual Day of Caring. This past year, a group of professionals from Trout CPA volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster in Columbia, PA.

The United Way Annual Day of Caring is a community-wide volunteer event that brings together individuals, families, and teams of volunteers from local companies. Volunteers are spread throughout our community to complete various projects for non-profit organizations such as yard work, painting, spending time with seniors, delivering meals, and much more.

What do you think about Trout CPA’s VTO program?

This program is an excellent way for us to be able to take time out of our workday in order to give back to our community. It is also a great way to connect with co-workers.

There are so many organizations, especially local ones, that do so much for our communities, and being able to assist those organizations in their mission by volunteering my time is just one way that I am able to give back to my community.

Tell us about your first volunteer experience

My first experience with volunteering was during my first year of college. I participated in a service trip to North Carolina and assisted Habitat for Humanity with building a home for a family. It was remarkable not only to see what people with minimal building experience could accomplish together but also to meet and speak with the family who would be living there once the house was complete. That entire experience had an impact on me. It showed me that taking some time to assist others could lead to a life-long change for those involved.


Employee volunteerism is not a new trend. However, more businesses are recognizing that employees want to work for a company that gives back to their community. An Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program is a great way for businesses to improve their work culture, enhance their brand, and help recruit and retain employees.

At Trout CPA, we are committed to positively impacting the communities in which we live and do business. Learn more about our community involvement and career opportunities.


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