Employee Volunteering has traditionally been split into two camps, the first being practical team building volunteer projects such as conservation work, painting and DIY. The second is pro bono work, where employees spend weeks and months of time taking on major work for a community organisation free of charge.

Both are great – for very different reasons. Practical volunteering, if done right, can solve a genuine need in the community. It also allows employees to have a great day out, bond as a team and make a tangible difference. Parks, nature reserves and community centres have all seen their funding cut in recent years, so practical volunteering is still in great demand. It can also begin the journey to longer term integrative corporate partnerships and other forms of volunteering.

Pro bono work is also fantastic, saving charities huge amounts of money on skills that would otherwise be far out of reach. If businesses can afford to have their staff devote substantial amounts of time to non-fee earning projects then this is a valuable resource. Sadly, it’s mostly only the biggest of corporations that are able to do this.

But that raises the question, what is in between? How does a volunteer give back their skills in a meaningful way, without leaving their job for longer periods of time? Or how does an SME, who cannot resource pro bono work, do skilled volunteering?  Our solution to this is Talent Matters, a programme where employees can contribute 20-30 hours of professional advice and coaching, over a 2-3 month period, to a worthwhile cause or organisation.

This approach delivers much-needed strategic support to community organisations. It also challenges the employee to think differently, work within a new environment, develop skills and return to the day job with these benefits.

We developed the Talent Matters programme based on insights from our Measuring the Good and Good Leaders programmes: our aim is to match corporate expertise with social impact projects, and build relationships that benefit both parties and society as a whole.