We examine what skills-based volunteering has to offer both charities and charity supporters
In the past, we’ve written about the principles that drive a successful partnership between charities and corporations. Chief among these principles is the idea that both organisations must be driven by a common goal. Even if they may have disparate aims in other areas, successful partnerships focus on how both sides can contribute towards a shared endeavour. Both participants must gain something from the partnership. These kinds of collaborations have seen great results in the face of COVID-19.
This is also a good model for an increasingly common form of volunteering.
Skills-based volunteering allows qualified professionals to work for charities on a pro bono basis. A simple example might be a doctor lending their expertise to a medical charity in an advisory capacity.
This is particularly useful when it comes to charity digital operations. Many small charities may struggle to pay full-time staff or freelance contractors to perform specialised digital tasks or advise on longer-term digital strategy. It can be difficult to find the money to pay someone with the necessary skills.
But you may not have to. It is possible (perhaps even likely) that one of your supporters will have these skills and would be pleased to volunteer their time and expertise.
There are two reasons why now is a better time than ever before to try out skills-based volunteering.
The first is financial. While no-one can say for certain what the long-term economic repercussions of COVID-19 will be, they don’t look good.
Much has been made of a massive shortfall in charity fundraising. Yet research suggests that the public retains a high level of trust in charities at this time.
Just because a supporter may not have the money to give right now does not mean they can’t contribute value to your organisation at this difficult time. Many charities are moving their fundraising activities online.
Supporters with digital skills could be vital in helping the small charities that will be most affected by COVID-19 make this transition.
The second reason is that a high number of people in the UK are either unemployed or on furlough. Skills-based volunteering can offer them a lot in this difficult time. Many people will want to help in a time of crisis, but traditional volunteering excludes those with limited mobility or other underlying health conditions, who may need to continue to shield or self-isolate. Skills-based volunteering will allow them to make a valuable contribution.
It can also help to plug gaps in a CV whilst a volunteer is job-hunting. Anyone who works in a digital role will know the importance of staying professionally active. Digital moves at a quick pace and anyone who is out of work for some time runs the risk of their skills becoming out of date. Skills-based volunteering allows digital professionals to continue to use their skills and to avoid becoming rusty or suffering the drop in confidence that can come from a prolonged period of unemployment.