Skills-Based Volunteering Is ‘Best Way’ For Businesses To Make A Difference

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Skills-based volunteering is being newly hailed as the most effective way for businesses to make a difference to their communities, a company-volunteeringreport says.

Using the natural skills of employees, which often relate to the roles they play in the company, can be a better way to contribute to local charitable causes than simply offering general tasks or manual labour. The new claim follows Business in the Community’s (BITC) Give & Gain Day 2014, which saw 14,343 employee volunteers from 186 companies take part.

The annual volunteering initiative is a chance for companies to give back to their local communities through group activities and maintenance. Traditionally this has involved manual labour, but more recently there has been a trend towards skills-based volunteering, such as mentoring and employability workshops.

Offering services related to employees’ natural skills has been found to be a much more effective way to really make a difference, allowing workers to implement the skills and knowledge they use in their jobs every day. Simon Lucas, managing director of executive search firm Society, said:

[quote]We really wanted to something that other people can’t. It just feels more meaningful. Anyone can do some gardening, but the skills-based stuff is very specific to what we do day-today and it feels like a more worthwhile use of the day.”[/quote]

London is said to have seen a ten-fold increase in the proportion of skills-based volunteering at Give & Gain over the last two years, with more businesses choosing to employ services unique to them. Lucas says he still believes there is a place for all types of volunteering, but that skills-based activities have a particularly ‘potent’ effect.

He also says:

[quote]When people are doing something they are familiar with, they can collaborate even more closely. The team building element becomes even more successful.”[/quote]

Meanwhile, BITC’s head of community investment Stephanie Hagan agreed that there is “growing recognition” for businesses using their skills to make a real impact.  She added that many businesses are now able to make a solid case for employee volunteering on the bases that it boosts employee engagement, retention and collaboration.

Also taking part in Give & Gain day 2014 was Lloyd’s Banking Group, where 5000 of its staff offered services like CV training as well as more traditional volunteering activities. Head of colleague engagement David Littlechild reported that the activities indeed raised the company’s people metrics significantly.

[quote]Our research shows that colleagues who have participated in activities like this are significantly more engaged than those who have not been involved.

This is reflected in greater satisfaction, pride, advocacy and intent to stay, as well as positivity towards growth and development opportunities within the company.”[/quote]