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Impactful Volunteering Schemes: Build Your Programme Within Your Business Model

Businesses and governments need to create volunteering schemes that allow everyone to get involved in the philanthropic sector. Rita Chadha from Small Charities Coalition, Charlotte Tomlin from Barclays, Adriano Mancinelli from TrustLaw at Thompson Reuters Foundation and Philip Kenley of Salesforce address the challenges of creating sustainable volunteering programmes but also talk about the joys of volunteering. Find below some insights shared at our Annual KindLink Conference: How Social Responsibility Will Define The New Decade on the topic of volunteering. 

Creating a sustainable approach to volunteering 

“Trustees who manage small charities are volunteers themselves as well,” says Rita Chadha. Together with Tomlin and Kenley, she discusses the difficulties of setting up long-term impact volunteering schemes. 

“Sourcing the volunteers is extremely difficult,” Chadha explains. Charities, especially small ones, sadly lack the infrastructure to create an environment where everyone can volunteer for them. The government encourages partnerships between charities and businesses, but often underestimates how long it takes to set up long-term volunteering placements with an organisation. ”It involves a cost for the organisation because you’re looking at how does that person get integrated into the organisation, the work that they do, the insurance implications, a lot of features that we as a sector don’t even accommodate for,” says Chadha. Usually, charities are simply grateful to have an extra pair of helping hands but that is not a sustainable approach to volunteering. Kenly adds: “You have to build a [volunteering] programme within your [business] model.” 

A way around this is to change perceptions of a ‘classical’ way of volunteering. There are still stereotypes about what volunteering should look like but there needs to be a shift towards volunteering schemes that have more potential to reach more people such as micro- and remote volunteering. Volunteering also needs to become a chance for employees to work on their personal development plans. “I think that we are all individuals and we all have skills that we would like to develop. You generally can’t offer these opportunities in your day-to day-work,” Tomlin explains. What is not possible within a business setting is possible through volunteering and businesses should make use of that. 

Getting everyone on board

 “The most powerful tool in our organisation is sharing stories about the activities [we do] and what they gave [us] back,” says Tomlin on how to engage everyone in the company’s volunteering scheme. 

Barclays’ Life Skills is a flagship programme for employability skills that was launched 7 years ago and is now reaching 10 million people. “We work with charity partners that facilitate the programme for us.” Through this partnership, Barclays’ employees can find volunteering opportunities such as facilitating some of the LifeSkills sessions.

“The best positive feedback I get is when people use their professional skills to support nonprofits,” says Kenley. And developing soft or different hard skills is actually a great part of volunteering, one that corporates can use long-term when looking at the development of their human resources.

“People who use their skills for larger, big paying customers are also interested in doing that for smaller organisations, for young social enterprises that are changing the world. It’s so nice to see the feedback from both lawyers who say ‘Such nice people, I love working with them’ and from charities who say ‘Without the advice, we would not be able to operate’”, Mancinelli concluded.


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