Skilled volunteering

Anne Heal, Chair of Volunteering Matters

I am really delighted that it is the turn of Volunteering Matters to be the Skills Exchange Alliance champion of skilled volunteering. Before joining the charity as chair of trustees I headed up BT’s volunteering activity. As I said on joining Volunteering Matters “the contribution that volunteering makes to our society and the positive impact it has for the individuals who volunteer has never been more important”. I feel passionately that the only way we will realise (in both senses of the word) the full potential of volunteering is if the private, voluntary and public sectors work together.

At BT I worked hard to build the profile and impact of volunteering in the business, doubling employee participation in our volunteering activities.  Staff had (and still have) up to three days a year for community and charitable work, and as a result many thousands of days and hours have been spent strengthening the ties between business and the community. And it was a win win win all round, with employees, beneficiaries and charities all feeling that they had got tangible benefit from the experience.

Now, there are lots more great examples of companies supporting their employees to go out and do skills based volunteering. But I believe that even more people (business and other sectors alike) need to know about the opportunities out there.

It might not surprise you that I believe that Volunteering Matters is in a uniquely strong position to talk about the power and potential of skilled volunteering.   We are a national charity with over 50 years’ experience of delivering high impact volunteering programmes locally and regionally. We currently engage nearly 20,000 volunteers every year in over 100 programmes across the country. We understand the needs of the voluntary sector at a local, regional and national level – knowing what works and what is needed to make it work.

But it’s not only that. Specifically, for the past 25 years we have been running a highly successful employee volunteering brokerage service, last year we enabled  nearly 8000 employee volunteers to donate their time and skills to helping some of the most deprived communities across the UK. We pride ourselves in offering tailor-made volunteer programmes to employers that meet real community needs, benefit employees and develop skills all round.  We work with companies large and small including Deloitte, Deutsche Bank and National Grid and we match them to the most pertinent community organisations and projects.  Matches that will benefit both business and community and that will result in what you might call a #skillsexchange!

So it’s very much from a first hand perspective that this month we’ll be showcasing the power of skilled volunteering, and how to get the most out of it.   From top tips on making corporate volunteering actually meaningful to hearing how to make skills-based volunteering work for teams we think we’ve got some interesting things to say. So please follow #skillsexchange on twitter to find out more, and hopefully we’ll inspire you further on your volunteering  journey, whatever sector you are from.