If you’ve considered volunteering, you are not alone. According to the Giving Report 2016, nearly 44% of adult Australians volunteered a total of 932 million hours in 2016. Clearly we are a nation committed to helping each other out.
Donating your time to help serve meals, pack boxes or help out at a working bee are all worthy activities, but volunteering your professional expertise is high impact. Your professional skills can make a huge difference to charities, which are often under-staffed and under-resourced.
But the benefits go two ways – there’s a lot you will get from the experience, both personally and professionally. So what’s in it for you?
Improve your problem-solving and communication skills
When you are working on a short-term project for a non-profit, it goes without saying that your problem solving skills and communication skills will get a workout. Volunteering can allow you to gain experience in communicating to groups you otherwise would have had little or no exposure to, and in solving problems of a sort you haven’t tackled before.
Volunteering will give you the opportunity to network and expand both your professional and personal contacts. This can be particularly beneficial if you are thinking of changing jobs, or re-entering the workforce after a break. Spending some time at a non-profit will broaden your horizons, as well as give you a fresh perspective on your own organisation.
Mix it up
Ever feel like you’re in a bit of a rut at work, doing the same thing day in, day out? Or maybe you’ve got some skills that just aren’t getting used in your current role. Volunteering can be a great way to keep those skills current, leaving you feeling more content with your current work.
There’s no denying that volunteering looks good on your CV. Think about it –if you were interviewing two almost identical candidates for a position, but one hadspent some of their own time helping a non-profit solve a professional issue…who would you hire?
Of course one of the biggest “soft” benefits of volunteering is the feel-good factor, and the knowledge that your know-how and skills are making a significant difference. Don’t underestimate the value that your experience can bring to a non-profit, even for a short term issue. Charities will be grateful for your contribution, and you will feel the warm fuzzies of a job well done.
Many organisations have volunteering programs in place, so a great place to start is with the HR department of your company. If you work in the ICT industry, you can take advantage of regular Skills Exchange events run by the Telco Together Foundation in Melbourne and Sydney. These events feature charities pitching a small technical problem to a roomful of enthusiastic staff from the telco/ICT sector, who then volunteer 1-2 days to help solve the issue. An advantage of using a program such as the Skills Exchange is that the charities have benefited from a process that ensures their problem is of a suitable size and complexity to be resolved in the pro-bono time provided. The process is facilitated by Telco Together Foundation, who support both the charities and non-profits through the process.
Find out more about the Skills Exchange