Kim Perlow, September 2021
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE BRINGING A SKILLED VOLUNTEER INTO YOUR ORGANISATION
Small Social Good Organisations (SGOs - community groups, registered charities and social enterprises) are usually full of passion and drive but are constantly overstretched and in need of additional skills to help them achieve their ambitious goals. Bringing on Skilled Volunteers in short-term roles can offer a wealth of expertise and can prove transformational in helping to develop an organisation’s internal capacity.
However, for this contribution to be truly effective, organisations need to invest in a certain amount of planning upfront and be ready to make the most of the knowledge on offer. Without this, Skilled Volunteer Projects can face challenges, significant amounts of management time and not very useful results.
Over the past five years, we’ve learned a lot about how to maximise the value of working on a project with a new Skilled Volunteer so we thought we’d share a few tips that can make it an easier and more beneficial experience for both sides.
Bring in expertise that you do not already have on your team: Many small organisations find that their teams are stretched thin and, alongside their main jobs, staff are working on aspects that they are not particularly knowledgeable about. Start by looking at where you lack internal knowledge and what you need support with to improve the efficiency of your operations.
Know what you need: Understanding what you need and what is a priority for your organisation in that moment will ensure that the right volunteer is found, invests in the project and that everyone’s time is well utilised.
We completely understand that it is sometimes difficult to identify where to start as there are many areas of support that might be useful. Take a look at our Project Stories and the Organisations page on our website for ideas of how a Skilled Volunteer might be of most value to you. Our team is also available to talk through your needs with you and help you prioritise where to start.
Be clear on scope: Think about how much time will realistically be needed for your project. What are the steps involved in order to achieve it? What are the skills that are most important for it? What does your organisation have to do to prepare for it to be successful?
Consider your capacity: When putting together a Skilled Volunteer project, make sure this is something you have the capacity to move forward with once it is completed. Understanding what you are able to do and managing expectations ensures that everyone’s time is well spent and both the organisation and volunteer finish the project excited and motivated for the next steps.
Think about the steps you’ve already taken: Has any work already been done toward what you are looking for? For example, if you would like a social media strategy, what social media are you using? Have you clearly identified your audiences? What is working / not working already? If you are looking for a new database, what are you currently using? Why are you looking to change? Being very clear on what you already have will help you to better understand what is needed next.
Assess your own time: A skilled volunteer will not be able to solve certain problems on their own. Depending on what you are looking for, you will need to work on the project along-side them to make sure the end result is fit for your purposes. Remember, this investment will make sure that you end up with something that adds value to your organisation, and that you are able to take it forward internally once the project is completed.
If you realise that you do not have the time available to engage in the process, think about if you can break down your project into smaller chunks that might be more manageable from your side.
Our volunteers truly enjoy supporting community organisations and we love being able to create connections between people with professional skills to share and Social Good Organisations working to bring about positive change. We are here and happy to help so get in touch with any questions you might have and we can support you in defining the details of your project and steps you should take to bring on a Skilled Volunteer and make the most out of it!
Submit a project request form today and let us match you with a Skilled Volunteer that will help your organisation grow.