Social Good Blog Post

What is Skilled Volunteering and How Can it Help my Charity?

Person using laptop with a coffee

When people think of volunteering, often the first thing that springs to mind are images of traditional volunteering roles: building a wall for a community garden, handing out food at a shelter, or delivering shopping to elderly neighbours.

These are all crucial roles in day-to-day operations, but it’s worth considering some less obvious areas where volunteers can support you.

Skilled volunteering is about tapping into people’s professional expertise to gain strategic support and advice in areas such as marketing, finance, project management, or HR.

There are so many ways that skilled volunteers can help third sector organisations maximise their outreach and impact. Here are just a few:

Popular with business and employees 

One benefit of skilled volunteering is that it is especially popular with large and SME businesses who’ve committed to, or have started to explore the benefits of, employer-supported volunteering programmes.

Employee volunteers use their professional skills in their volunteering roles at a higher percentage than non-employee volunteers and are more likely to lend their skills on a regular basis (at least once a month) than volunteers who do not use their professional skills.

Offering opportunities for skilled volunteering will not only help your charity or non-profit organisation to reach a wider audience of employer-supported volunteers; it could allow you to access more long-term, consistent support too.

Strategic support

Hiring a freelancer or a professional is one expense too many for some third sector organisations, and the employees that already work for charities are often intensely busy, wearing many hats at once.

This means that there are projects or tasks that fall by the wayside as organisations focus on their daily operations. Things like updating digital processes, revamping websites, or creating and implementing new marketing campaigns are all necessary for growth but difficult to accomplish with very limited resources.

Imagine if you could recruit a volunteer (or volunteers) to help you progress these important but neglected projects? The beauty of using skilled volunteers who are experts in the field you need help with is that your current team won’t need to spend months researching and learning unfamiliar topics.

For example, a charity looking to improve its social media presence and digital marketing strategy might consider recruiting a volunteer marketing expert for a weekly, half-hour conversation on strategy implementation, tools, and resources.

For the volunteer, it’s a quick and simple way to give back to the community. For the charity, it’s valuable guidance and support from a professional that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

Think of all the strategic aims you could achieve with the guidance of an industry expert!

Skilled volunteering is about tapping into people's professional expertise to gain strategic support and advice in areas such as marketing, finance, project management or HR.

Creativity and flexibility 

Don’t underestimate the hidden skills a person may have. Even if you have recruited a volunteer for a specific role, it is worth getting to know them and any ideas they may have for the organisation. In fact, around 1 in 6 volunteers report that they have skills that they feel are being under-used. 

With skilled volunteering, you can be as creative as you like with the roles you advertise. Ask your employees what they would appreciate some support with and assess where skills gaps might lie within your current team.

If you need a little inspiration on the types of roles a skilled volunteer could carry out, check out our list of ‘think outside the box’ volunteer opportunities here.

Still unsure? 

A volunteering role should never replace a paid position. If what you are asking for is starting to look more like a part-time job with defined hours, outcomes, and responsibilities, you may need to pare it back a bit. Recruiting a skilled volunteer for advice or support on a project is not the same as expecting someone to stand in for a part-time employee and all the duties that go with paid employment.

However, if you can get the balance right with your request, it’s a no-brainer. By widening the scope of your volunteering roles to include people already in skilled and specialist positions, you’re reaching a new audience of volunteers and tapping into a whole world of possibilities.

In short, the advice and understanding of skilled volunteers can allow you to embark on projects that would otherwise be difficult and very costly and can help you to focus your limited resources on areas of highest impact.

Ready to get started? 

Explore our skills gap audit resource to assess what volunteer roles you should recruit for, and get in touch if you want to know more about how Social Good Connect can help you find the right candidate!

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