We’re constantly encouraging people to rethink volunteering, and challenge preconceived ideas of who volunteers, and what a volunteer does. That’s why at Social Good Connect, we believe in the value of student volunteers.
We want to move away from the thinking that the only people who benefit from volunteering are charities and their beneficiaries. Of course, helping others is why most people get involved with volunteering, but there’s so much other good that can come from it too.
Volunteering can benefit many types of organisations, including academic institutions like schools, colleges and universities (and their student volunteers too!).
Whether it’s gaining valuable experience, a sense of fulfilment from doing something kind, or just trying something new – the opportunities are endless! Here’s what being a Social Good Connect member can look like if you’re a school, college or university.
Whether or not your students can take part in volunteering through Social Good Connect depends on your organisation and what you want your membership to look like. It’s totally up to you whether you want to open up opportunities to your students as well as staff.
It’s important that everyone who participates in volunteering is insured, and typically the liability falls on the organisation or business to ensure that their student volunteers and staff are covered.. It’s worthwhile checking your policy to see if insurance covers your students and starting from there.
When it comes to school pupils, the kinds of roles available may vary and is at both the charity and the school’s discretion. For obvious reasons, some volunteering roles may not be appropriate for those under the age of 18, but there are still plenty of face to face and virtual opportunities to choose from.
With team volunteering opportunities on offer, there’s also the chance to try something a little different whilst strengthening relationships between students and staff.
Forth Valley College is one of our business members that joined Social Good Connect to enhance the way that they give back.
Ralph Burns, Head of HR told us about their decision: ‘At the very least you’re helping good causes and at the very best you’re helping someone that you employ to feel better about themselves – they’re giving back, enhancing their skills and developing teamwork in a new way by doing something different.
‘The two main reasons we signed up to Social Good Connect were to improve staff wellbeing and to enhance team building.
‘It may not be straightforward to quantify a business return from volunteering, but the emotional experience by staff who give it a go shows a clear benefit to wellbeing, and that’s why we got involved.’
Since they joined, our platform SAM matched one of their team members, HR Business Manager Gill, to a non-exec HR director at children’s services charity Catesbi. Nearly six months on, Gill still provides advice Suzie and her support has been invaluable.
Aside from employee benefits, volunteering also opens doors of opportunity for students. It’s a great way to boost their confidence and get them thinking about life after school. Volunteering opportunities can them develop skills for the workplace and help their chances when it comes to university and college applications.
Volunteering and extracurricular activities have long been known to bolster a student’s chances of landing a place on their chosen course, especially if it’s experience in an area related to that field of study. Moreover, it gives them the chance to strengthen their soft skills whilst creating a positive reputation for the school in their local community.
One of our members, the High School of Dundee, offers volunteering to their students as well as their staff. Rector Lise Hudson says that the benefits it brings the students are numerous:
‘The emotional intelligence involved in volunteering is a beneficial skill to develop, for staff volunteers and potential student volunteers. Whilst academic credentials are still viewed as the most important thing to many parents, it’s rapidly becoming the case that emotional intelligence – qualities such as empathy, listening, communication and teamwork – are what our young people will need more of to thrive in the world of work.
‘As for us, if young people coming into our school see that volunteering and nurturing emotional intelligence is a part of who we are, and if they follow our staff’s example by getting involved themselves, then they open themselves up to a whole range of new and previously unimagined career opportunities.’
For university and college go-ers, being a student volunteer means getting a foot up on the competition in the job-market. 82% of hiring managers are more likely to choose an applicant with volunteering experience over someone with none. It’s a hard statistic to ignore – volunteering can help give you an edge when it comes to job-hunting.
It can also improve the reputation of your institution, take the High School of Dundee for example. Volunteering is an important part of how they establish themselves in the local community as a school that doesn’t just place importance on a child’s grades, but also looks to improve their soft skills and foster well-rounded individuals.
When it comes to staff benefits, you can read more about what we have to say here.
We’d love to help you discover the potential that volunteering can have for your organisation, sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop. If you want to discover what being a member would look like in your organisation, book a call with Sarah.
Written by Caitlin Fyffe
Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!
So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.