Skilled volunteers – Why, How, What

May 3, 2022

Tim Wilson, Communiteer

skilled volunteers

You may find this hard to believe but a hammer can’t fix all your household problems. Issues around your home come in all forms and all require a different solution. This is the same for any Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisation. Almost anybody can stack shelves, move boxes and serve meals but only trained individuals can code, lead, advise or design. All NFPs have these problems and a run-of-the-mill weekend volunteer is often not equipped to solve them. Skilled volunteers are the solutions to these problems.

Unskilled & skilled volunteering, what is it?

So, what exactly do we mean when we say the words skilled volunteering? What image does your head conjure up? Unskilled volunteering may be the most familiar kind of volunteering. The teenager, working at a community shelter helping to feed the homeless during the holidays, or a small-town community gathering to plant trees.

These volunteering roles don’t require any sort of specialised training or experience. The beautiful thing about unskilled volunteering is that it is universal, people from all walks of life can join and offer a simple helping hand. Skilled volunteering allows individuals the chance to bring out their unique talents and contribute on a different level. 

Skilled volunteers are different and in higher demand. When we talk about skilled volunteers, we are referring to specialists, experts and industry professionals. Individuals with specific experiences and skillsets that other volunteers do not possess. Examples would be data analysts, marketing & public relations agents, programmers, project managers and copywriters to name a few.

Skilled volunteers are brought in to solve niche problems from behind the scenes. Instead of committing time to an NFP’s public cause, they are the ones who build, repair or improve the organisation’s cause from within. Unskilled volunteering helps the cause run, skilled volunteering increases the volume of its success.

The Impact

Skilled volunteers certainly have the capability to explode with the influence they can weave into an NFP or any project they contribute towards. When you have the ear of management or a department head, that is how you know that the actions you take reverberate throughout the organisation.  They offer NFPs the invaluable council that many charities and start-ups wouldn’t naturally acquire through their workforce until at least 10 years in. Skilled volunteers not only help causes but they enact change that reverberates throughout the entire organisation.

The kind of change that skilled volunteers provide enables NFPs’ day-to-day to run more smoothly or they identify problems that NFPs don’t even realise are present. Skilled volunteers are incredibly useful in helping NFPs understand what it is they need. An NFP may believe that they require a new website but when a skilled volunteer comes in, they look at the problem and say “No, you don’t need a new website. You need a new search engine”. Its beauty is that skilled volunteers come from outside an organisation and bring fresh eyes to each problem.

What to do

There is an abundance of ways in which skilled volunteers can have a great widespread impact, two ways are hackathons and scoping sessions. Both of these events require people with the experience and knowledge from a skilled volunteer pool. And the best thing about these methods is that they can be done virtually or face-to-face!

Hackathons.

Hackathons are a great way to get the creative juices flowing in your team. Ideas are, in a short and pressurized process. Designed, developed, deployed and demonstrated.

1.   Form teams and set the context of the day.

2.   Then volunteers can begin understanding the NFP mission and cause, and their business challenge that will scale impact.

3.   Groups will begin brainstorming and ideating in teams that have a range of applicable skills, such as marketing, finance, information technology and others, to build a holistic approach.

5.   We recognised volunteers for their contribution and encourage them to continue.

Zoom calls are great for setting up Work-from-home (WFH) events. Allowing teams to develop solutions for NFPs that embrace technology, current industry knowledge and enhance their core operations.

Scoping sessions.

Scoping sessions are fantastic for helping NFPs understand the limits and realities of what can be accomplished with the resources available. The fresh eyes of a skilled volunteer from outside the organisation can be invaluable. NFPs can either overestimate their abilities or stretch out their resources to the point with little to nothing gets done. Or not even release what they can even be capable of doing with the right guidance.

These can be full-day sessions, so best to get comfy when planning a scoping session. All involved sit down and discuss the finer details of projects and causes. We defined the needs during a sit-down. We consider what hasn’t been considered, explore all possible risks and then lay out a project plan. But these are just two of the many options that a skilled volunteer can bring to the table.

skilled volunteers

Communiteer and You!

Communiteer is the place where you go to find or sign up as a skilled volunteer. With connections to many NFPs, corporations and individuals, Communiteer is your one-stop-shop.

You can join Right here.

For more information on how your corporations can contribute, click here.

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