If you are here to help…grab a shovel?
With hectic schedules that you manage everyday, it can be difficult to find time to volunteer. Some of you may want to spend that time memorizing SAT vocabulary words and attending mock trial to receive that acceptance letter from your dream school; others may spend it learning Chinese or taking accounting classes for resume building. Indeed, flying off to Uganda to tackle poverty will definitely not be your top priority in daily life. However, if you realize how efficiently volunteering can benefit you, you might change your mind. All you need is the right match, which can be arranged by skill-based volunteering. You no longer need to grab a shovel to remove sod from the ground for habitat, unless you choose to. When properly planned out, volunteering can help you find great connections, learn new skills and also have best moments of your life.
What is skill-based volunteering?
The resources for volunteers across the nations are being stretched like never before, with the countries seeing both a significant increase in needs and a measurable decrease in the financial resources available to meet those needs. In order for non-profits to maintain certain levels of service, they need to increase their capacity to meet the growing challenge, which requires a variety of skills and expertise that may not be available within the organizations themselves. At the same time, the corporate sector is beginning to recognize the fact that it can create greater impact on social issues by offering its own best resource—its professional expertise. Thus, at the intersection of the challenges to be met comes skill-based volunteering. This innovative approach takes benefits of individuals’ skills and experience to help service organizations sustain their ability to bring real solutions to world problems.
What can SBV do for you?
1) Make connections
Skills-based volunteering opens the door to those seeking to use their personal and professional skills and talents to serve others. Because most people participate in areas of their interest or specialty, you can make special connections with professionals. Connections made while volunteering build on trust and faith in participants’ personality and morality. As a participant, you can prove your ability and expertise while volunteering, which will increase chances of getting a job or an internship that you want. Well-designed programs can strengthen relationships as well as the productivity because people will get the change to collaborate with people of same interest from all over the world.
Below are links to organizations that connect individuals and companies with volunteer opportunities with additional information about SBV
- Hands on network: http://www.handsonnetwork.org/nationalprograms/skillsbasedvolunteering
- Taproot Foundation: http://www.taprootfoundation.org/leadprobono/state/
- Smartvolunteer: http://www.smartvolunteer.org/
2) Build skills
Skills-based volunteering can be an opportunity for you to practice your skill sets and even acquire new ones without having to worry about getting fired. You can either go after something that you really know or engage in something outside of their comfort zone for experience’s sake. Usually, skill-based volunteering thrives when it comes to non-profit management. This commonly requires deep analytic rigor and modeling financial analysis for the non-profits. People who already have these skills can get the crux of their skill set while putting the core competencies to work and people who do not can practice and eventually acquire them.
In fact, many corporations are implementing this system to procure the benefits. They are allowing their employees to volunteer in a most efficient way. They match teams of employees with non-profits and provide strategic advice on issues critical to the nonprofits’ business models with their professional skill sets. Any skill-based program that aligns with company’s culture and values while recognizing the needs that exist in community can effectively capitalize employee’s specific skills and strengthen internal relationships. Currently, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Cisco System, intel, Wells Fargo and more have successfully implemented the system.
3) Grow healthy mind and body
Let’s face the fact. Volunteer may not be the most entertaining way to spend your time. But by using skill-based volunteering, you have the motivation to do good work while exploring your interest and passions. At the same time, it can be an escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school or family commitment. Experience of helping others out side of your box can also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and visions that can carry over into your personal and professional life. Pretty soon, using personal talents or professional competence will be the most common way for volunteers to help non-profit organizations.
Now, with numerous volunteer opportunities available, how do you choose the right position? Before you make your choice, you should ask following questions.
- Do you prefer working alone or as a part of a team?
- How much time are you willing to commit?
- What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
- Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer a more visible role?
- What causes are important to you?
Again, when you answer these questions beforehand and properly plan out for the volunteer work, you would be pleasantly surprised by your experience.