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4 steps to get started with skills-based volunteering

Angad Bachhar
July 5, 2023 -- 3min
4 steps to get started with skills-based volunteering

When you think of volunteering, you usually think of hands-on volunteering, which involves tasks like cleaning a local park or volunteering at a food bank. While hands-on volunteering goes a long way in supporting nonprofits, other forms of support can be even more helpful. 

Nonprofits can get hands-on help from anyone in the community. But they often lack the resources, qualified talent, or skills to function more effectively. By volunteering your professional expertise, you can make a greater impact on the nonprofit’s ability to support its mission. 

What is skills-based volunteering?

Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is when someone volunteers their knowledge and abilities to support a cause, instead of just their time. For example, you can leverage your own expertise in accountancy, finance, copywriting, or any other discipline, and provide training to a nonprofit’s staff. 

What are the benefits of skills-based volunteering?

A strong business case can be made for SBV programs. They have been shown to increase employee engagement and retention. They also measurably enhance the skills that employees bring back to their work. These programs have the added benefit of being popular with younger employees, whom companies seek to recruit and retain.

For nonprofits, skills based volunteering represents major cost savings, because hiring a professional services firm to train their employees in areas like marketing, strategic planning, HR, technology, and finance is very expensive. 

The need for skills such as marketing, operations, strategic planning, finance, and technology is great, and companies are in a unique position to help nonprofits. For example, a major firm like Deloitte volunteers more than 158,000 hours every year, leveraging their skills and experience to help local nonprofits tackle challenges such as talent development, data analysis, and donor engagement. A nonprofit would most likely not be able to afford Deloitte’s services, but they can still benefit from Deloitte’s expertise thanks to skills based volunteerism.

4 steps to get started with your skills based volunteering program

Companies looking to develop a skills-based volunteering program can start by following these steps:

  • Support causes that align with your values
    It’s very important to support nonprofit organizations with missions that align with your company’s stated values and goals. Consider causes that are most important to your employees and community. You can even allow your employees to suggest organizations they want to volunteer for.
  • Identify your areas of expertise
    Understand your employees’ areas of expertise and skill sets. Think about how they can apply to the nonprofits you will support. This will help you identify the right fit for your SBV program among potential nonprofit partners.
  • Define your program’s scope
    Consider the resources available, your employees’ preferences, and organizational needs. Then, settle on the scope of your SBV program, such as whether you will participate in long-term or short-term projects. Identify the timeline for each engagement and set clear expectations with partners.
  • Incentivize participation
    Many companies struggle to get enough employees to participate in volunteering programs on a consistent basis. You can take many steps to encourage employees. Always try to educate your employees about the benefits of skills-based volunteering. Not only does SBVF strengthen existing job skills, it is a positive and productive way to give back to the community while growing both personally and professionally. You can also publicly recognize regular volunteers.

Focus on what matters with the right volunteering solution

You should make sure that your method of managing your corporate volunteering program enables its success, instead of hindering it. Today, the best volunteering programs are managed with corporate volunteering software. The right solution to manage your SBV program will reduce your administrative workload and free up time that you can spend on growing your program instead.

At Optimy, we firmly believe in helping our clients be a force for good in the world, and to help make the world a better place through better social impact programs. Contact our expert team to learn if Optimy is the right volunteer management solution for you!  

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