According to a Nottingham Trent University study, 1 in 10 voluntary sector organisations (10%) think it likely they’ll be forced to close because of the pandemic.
As we all know, a bit too well, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our lives, our communities, our world even! I think we have all come to terms with the fact that life will never be the same, but we all remain hopeful for whatever our “new normal” turns out to be.
The pandemic is testing the resilience of charitable organisations at an unprecedented scale. It has exposed vulnerabilities and forced a move online far quicker than anyone anticipated. How organisations respond to these exposed vulnerabilities and essential changes will ultimately decide the fate of these local charities and social enterprises that are needed more than ever. With increased demand for their services and reduced resources due to lack of funding, we need to work together to survive this crisis and make our “new normal” an improvement on the last.
Recent]research by NTU found “numerous examples of voluntary organisations using creativity and ingenuity to innovate in response to the new challenges that the pandemic brings, with many organisations demonstrating their ability to adapt, scale and pivot services. From moving existing face-to-face services online, to funders supplying local charities with Zoom licenses, it’s clear that Covid-19 is accelerating a digital transformation in the voluntary sector, with 92% of organisations reporting an increase in delivering their services online but with limited capacity, and reduced funding, these essential organisations lack the resources to achieve this on their own.”
So, charities, social enterprises and community groups need to respond quickly to some big business changes with limited resource and an increase in demand – how is that even possible?
This is where you can help!
During lockdown 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 (hopefully this will be the last!) we saw a 30% – 50% increase in the number of Skilled Volunteers signing up to offer their expertise to help organisations deal with the business challenges they are facing, whether that’s Digital Marketing, Human Resources, Fundraising and more! Together, our Link UP community has made a difference to more than 200,00 lives since the start of 2020.
Skilled Volunteering is invaluable to these organisations as they provide free support to help them drive forward and ultimately reach more beneficiaries and continue to build stronger communities.
BUT Skilled Volunteering isn’t just great for Social Good Organisations – it’s great for you too!
Here’s 8 reasons why you should sign up and share your skills with your community today:
1. The voluntary sector needs you more than ever!
During the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in poverty, domestic violence, mental health issues and much more, so the support from local charitable organisations is needed more than ever. Throw in the sudden loss of fundraising events and any face-to-face interaction, it’s more difficult than ever to operate in the same way and that’s why they need Skilled Volunteers to help them find new ways of working and explore new opportunities.
2. Volunteering improves your mental health
I think this infographic from NCVO says it all!
The Mental Health Foundation also lists some benefits of volunteering:
- It provides structure and routine
- It can help people feel good about themselves
- It can improve feelings of self-esteem
- It provides opportunities to make friends and take part in social activities
- It can provide learning opportunities which can protect mental health
3. Gain Confidence and Self-esteem
Skilled Volunteering is a great way to use your skills for good while also getting to know a different organisation and learning new things which can boost self-esteem. Having the opportunity to deliver on a short-term, clearly defined project is also proven to give you confidence if you’ve been on a break from paid employment anywhere from 1 month to 10 plus years. Many of the women who have participated in our skilled volunteering projects have clearly felt the impact.
“It gave me more confidence in my skills (I didn’t know I had any but apparently I do!) and made me step outside my comfort zone, learning new skills such as public speaking in front of a whole school assembly, not something I had done before! Scary but fun at the same time.”
Link UP volunteer who had been out of the workforce for over 15 years
Recently, Link UP CEO Kim Perlow wrote a blog about confidence for flexible working specialists, 2to3days, about how Skilled Volunteering can boost your confidence, reconnect you with your skills and help fill the CV Gap. https://www.2to3days.com/blog/2021/01/build-your-confidence-through-skilled-volunteering
4. Improve your CV / Fill a CV Gap
Any experience working with different businesses and organisations improves your CV, but if you’ve been on a career break, having Skilled Volunteering projects on your CV can actually improve your chances of getting a job. According to a Return Hub study, 68% of the women who took part cited reluctance from employers to hire someone with a CV gap as the main barrier preventing women returning to work. So Skilled Volunteering can help you fill the gap and give you something to talk about in an interview.
A recent article from Charity Job explains “According to research conducted by the professional service network Deloitte, 82% of hiring managers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience, and 85% of those are willing to overlook other CV flaws when a candidate includes volunteer work. Volunteering illustrates a lot about your character, both as an individual and a professional – and this can be the thing that pushes you out of the CV pile and into a new position.”
5. Connect with your Community
Being connected with your community provides a sense of belonging, increases your wellbeing and helps you find new friends. One pilot study – a social group set up by and for single mothers in County Durham – found that strengthening people’s social networks reduced people’s use of certain health services by up to 34%!
6. You’ll make Meaningful Connections
It goes without saying that you will hopefully build a bond with the organisation you invest your time in and it feels rewarding to work with a charity that is close to your heart, but it’s also a great way to build your network and in this case, find a job!
“I found the volunteering experience invaluable as not only was I able to provide my marketing and sponsorship skills to a worthwhile charity focusing on helping provide educational funding for young women, it also helped me find a new and exciting marketing manager position working within education.”
7. You can Work Remotely
Whether we are in a lockdown or not, it’s preferred that we stay home to keep everyone safe and reduce interactions as much as possible. All Skilled Volunteering roles can be done remotely and you can speak with the organisations on zoom or over the phone so if you can’t leave home for any reason or perhaps you want to fit the work in when you have spare time in the evening or early morning, the projects are manageable and flexible.
8. Short term, Structured Projects
The great thing about our Skilled Volunteering programme is that all the projects are short term and structured so you can agree a level of commitment at the beginning. The needs of the volunteer and the organisation are taken into consideration and we are proud of our personalised approach in matching people that we know will do great work together. It also means that you can work on projects for one organisation but you can also make a difference by working on several projects for multiple organisations. The sky is the limit.