Practicing what we preach

Oct 2021

At Link UP London we are huge advocates of Skilled Volunteering, which isn’t surprising as it’s the core of what we do. Even after 5+ years, we are still constantly impressed by the difference volunteers can make to the work of small Social Good Organisations, when utilising their skills in a structured way.

We ourselves are a small, growing organisation and, as we strive to do our work better and support more organisations and volunteers, we too are always in need of skills we do not have in-house on our team. From our very early days we have brought in skilled volunteers to help us develop our organisation.

We are currently in the process of starting two of our own new Skilled Volunteering projects (designed in the exact same way we do projects for other organisations!) and thought it might be interesting to share how we have used skilled volunteers over the past few years in different areas to support our own development. We indeed practice what we preach!

Evaluation: One of our first volunteers worked for a pharmaceutical company and supported us to create an evaluation framework that would allow us to track our impact. She worked closely with us to ensure we were clear and aligned as a team on our objectives before developing a framework. Our current monitoring and evaluation system has been built upon this.

Data: When looking to get a database up and running to better track information, we brought in a skilled database developer who helped us think about how we would use this database and what we really needed.  We found it incredibly helpful to understand how a database could support our work most effectively and determined that we could use an off-the-shelf system and craft it to meet our needs. From a cost and support standpoint, this has been much better than having a bespoke database created for us.

Finance: As we grew, we needed to develop out our financial systems and were lucky to have a trained accountant with over 20 years of experience help us improve our overall financial management including templates for annual budgeting and projections.

Branding: In 2019 we brought in an amazing branding volunteer who led our team through a series of sessions that helped us clarify the type of organisation we were and the tone of our messaging. This led us to update our logo and overall approach toward communications which we continue to build upon today.

Human resources: When ensuring our HR policies were up-to-date and relevant for us and our target groups, we brought in an experienced human resource professional who reviewed and revised the policies we had and worked closely with me to draft and shape policies we needed to have in place. She also provided a list of policies it would be good to put in place as we grew.

Strategy: In autumn 2020 we were extremely lucky to have a tech entrepreneur join our Advisory Board who began holding weekly strategy sessions with our team to ensure we were aligned on our vision, mission and values. He has also pushed us to make sure we know all the specifics of our business including details of our customer journey and the resources we allocate toward different activities. He is now helping us explore how we might use technology more effectively to support our work.

Social Media: As we look to improve our reach on social media, we knew we needed an Instagram page but didn’t have the know-how or the time internally to do this well. We were therefore delighted to find a wonderful volunteer who worked closely with us to design an overall strategy for the page along with templates and a structure for us to easily take this forward. We launched this in June 2021 for Volunteers’ Week and are excited to develop it as an important avenue of communication for us.

Which brings us to our newest volunteers who are just starting up with us now, one working on partnership development and the other trialling more in-depth story-telling of how our projects affect organisations and volunteers 6-months to a year following completion.

We have benefited significantly from each volunteer who has engaged with us and I regularly find myself saying to our team ‘This is why we do what we do!’. Having expert support from someone who is knowledgeable and able to guide us has always moved us forward in a way we could never do on our own.

Our list of needs continues as we grow but we know there are people out there who are willing to share their time, expertise and skills with us to help us do our work better. We couldn’t be more grateful or lucky to have their support!

Find out more about how a Skilled Volunteer can help you on our Social Good Organisations page.

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