Skills Based Volunteering- Using Your Personalized Skill Set to Make a Difference

Volunteer RNs at St. Andrew's AME Church Provide Blood Pressure Checks at Community Center

Volunteer RNs at St. Andrew’s AME Church Provide Blood Pressure Checks at Community Center

What are you looking for in a volunteer opportunity?  Are you maximizing your personal value in volunteerism?  Is your organization maximizing its impact on the community and return on investment in an employee volunteer program? YOU have the opportunity to personalize your volunteer efforts, provide a specialized needed service to those in need, and realize a return on your employee volunteer program through skills based volunteering.

Skills based volunteerism is a great opportunity to provide a specialized service to individuals or organizations.  Leveraging your expertise to provide value to others can be incredibly rewarding in a variety of ways.  Many non-profit organizations simply lack the budget to hire professionals to maximize their operations that provide much needed services in the community.  Skills based volunteers fill that gap by sharing their expertise and increasing the value organizations provide to those in need.

However, there is a fine-line in determining what services will be provided without charge, and those that will not.  International freelance writer and volunteer, Sue White, in The Art of Giving Away Your Expertise (Or Not)   recommends that volunteers identify what and understand why your services will be provided for free or charge.  Skills based volunteering does not require you to give away in part or entirety, your economic value.  In fact, there are a variety of ways that you can make a difference by sharing a small piece of your expertise with those who cannot afford to pay for your offering, or providing a service that is not available.

Once you start looking, skills based volunteer opportunities are widely available and in demand.  An earlier post, Find YOUR Passion and volunteer suggests how to search for a local cause that you or your organization is interested in.  Oftentimes, the organization lists in-kind services or volunteer opportunities on its website that it is in need of.

Skills based volunteers are making a difference in a variety of ways.  Employees of a local bank provide personal financial management presentations to a team of at-risk high school students.  Based on high risk for hypertension, a group of RNs from a local African American church provide regular blood pressure checks for fellow parishioners and at neighborhood events.  A colleague and I provided marketing and community outreach plans to a grassroots campaign.  A local CPA provides monthly tax preparation services to low income elderly at the Senior Center.  A retired attorney provides legal advice to the public library.  A talented retired Army veteran, who enjoys crafts, leads activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.  Band musicians provide free entertainment at a children’s fundraising event.  And the list goes on.

Do you have a skillset that could make a difference?  Are you leveraging your personal or organizational resources to maximize your efforts and employee volunteer program?  Engaging in skills based volunteerism is a great opportunity to make a difference and demonstrate how your organization is impacting your community.

How are you making a difference through skills based volunteerism?  Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!

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Are You Maximizing Your Employee Volunteer Program?

Corporate Volunteers Provide Safety Assessments to Elderly Neighbors

Corporate Volunteers Provide Safety Assessments to Elderly Neighbors

Today’s consumer wants to feel good about where he/she does business.  This is a growing sentiment that will determine where consumers spend their dollars.  Through Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, many businesses contribute a lot of capital, financial and human, to “give back” to the communities where they operate.  However, some companies are not maximizing the return on their community service.  What is your employee volunteer program about?  Are you maximizing your service experience for volunteers, the company, and the community?

When I was in college, I worked for a big bank that engaged in community service through an employee volunteer network.  Each location or city included an employee committee, open to all, which selected local community volunteer projects and recruited employees to participate, while the bank contributed a handsome cash donation to each event.  Some of these events included Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, American River Adopt-A-Parkway, Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure, and more.  These events were awesome.  I made a lot of friends and connections, including the CEO, through the volunteer network activities where employees and retirees with their friends and families volunteered on their own time.

Special Olympics Athletes CSUS

Special Olympics Athletes CSUS

Special Olympics – the crown jewel of events.   Employees from all over the region came out to volunteer in the 3-day event, providing coaching and cheering to developmentally disabled athletes, preparing lunch for all event participants and spectators, hosting medal ceremonies, and the like.  For the athletes, this was the event of a lifetime and volunteers were inspired by the opportunity to make a difference by serving others with severe limitations.  What is more, employees established a rapport with each other through volunteering for a perceived worthy cause, which raised morale in the workplace and throughout the organization.  I met Brian and Shelly from the branch in Elk Grove, who now know employees in the loan center, and we will volunteer together next year too.  It was not uncommon to hear, “I know him from Special Olympics,” “We worked together at Junior Achievement.”

What is the mission of YOUR employee volunteer program?  Are you maximizing the service experience for employees, benefits to the company, and improving the community?   Is your program objective to simply add a recipient to your donation board, or to leverage human capital of your organization to truly make a difference in the community where you do business?  If it is not the latter, you are certainly missing out.

Leave a comment.  Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer.