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  • Give employees paid time off to volunteer

    At Idealist, we believe most people want to do good in the world, but we also know obstacles can get in their way. Learn how one company is removing obstacles to help people give back in their communities.

    Setting: Workplace

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    Organization/people involved

    West Grove, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

    What they did

    Shoe company Dansko—a founding B Corp—has always been active in their community in the Delaware Valley, both by supporting local nonprofits with grants and by volunteering company manhours. Believing that most people—and therefore most of their employees—want to give back, they offer 20 hours of paid time off to volunteer to everyone on staff, every year. This represents about 1% of each person’s total annual work time.

    In addition to offering paid time off, the Dansko Foundation also donates a proportional amount of the employee volunteer’s salary to the nonprofit where they’re volunteering. For example: if someone volunteers five hours of time during a work day, Dansko donates what an employee would earn in those five hours to the same nonprofit.

    How you can do it

    Dansko says its program is adaptable to any workplace. Marc Vettori, the company’s director of human resources, shared more detail on how to make it work wherever you are:


    In 2013, Dansko employees volunteered 1,100 hours in the community. Out of 175 employees, about 135 of them volunteered—a great success!

    Big takeaways

    Marc reminds us that the longest journey starts with a single step. He says other organizations who want to begin a similar program should take the leap and launch, then assess how it’s going and make improvements as they go. He also suggests that the company do some of the legwork of sourcing volunteer opportunities for employees—that makes it much easier for them (and therefore the program) to succeed.

    Photo credit: Dansko

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