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The Impact Of Skill Based Volunteering On Society Today

Skill-based volunteerism is making a positive impact on society so we spoke to Emma Turner, Head of Client Philanthropy at Barclays to find out more about it.

Have you ever thought about putting a personal skill to use for charity?  I don’t necessarily mean becoming a Trustee (which requires a range of skills) but something more specific.

This is a topic that comes up more and more in conversations with clients who may be cutting back on work – or have more time on their hands – but also want to use their business skills to help others.

We asked Marina Sevier who is a consultant and adviser on philanthropic and charitable work to write an article – Skillanthropy – for our Little Book of Wonders. This was published in April and we thought it would be helpful to share it with as many people as possible.

Here are some highlights:

Gone are the days of City professionals volunteering in suits – planting trees or rolling up their sleeves to help paint the community club shed. Giving to charity is now increasingly about donating your business skills.

The value of goods and services created by volunteering in the UK is estimated at £50 billion per year – making it as big as the energy sector. Beyond this, the private and personal value of volunteering is “probably worth more than £40 billion a year,” according Andy Haldane, the chief economist at the Bank of England.

While there is no shortage of charities looking for pro bono expertise from other sectors and plenty of professionals keen to apply their skills, in reality the picture is more complex.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of intermediaries that exist solely to match, facilitate and support skills based volunteering. They will ensure that a project is worthwhile and there is a good fit between the charity and the donors’ skills and expectations.

For skilled volunteering to be worthwhile and rewarding it is crucial for a volunteer to have clear goals, objectives and a time-frame at the outset. You will also need to be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve.

Skillanthropy is truly a two-way exchange of skills, experience and reward. It can provide a welcome foil to the high-powered, pressurised world of business. You may also find that transforms and informs your traditional giving and takes you on a personal philanthropic journey which could be life-changing. Embark on it with a non-judgemental outlook.

We don’t know what we don’t know, but by engaging in skillanthropy we can expect the unexpected.

About the Author - Emma Turner, Head of Client Philanthropy at Barclays. This article 
first appeared on the Barclays website and has been reproduced with their permission. 
To find out more, visit their website here

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