Last month, Business Volunteers Maryland President and CEO Julie Kernan shared her reflections on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world. You can read her full post here, but her final thoughts expressed a silver lining of “the development of a greater commitment to caring for others through volunteering and community engagement.”
Usually, when an individual thinks of volunteering they immediately think of direct service- planting a tree, serving meals, tutoring children. But there are a variety of ways that an individual can engage with a nonprofit. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the value of skilled volunteering to the forefront, something that Business Volunteers has been a strong proponent of for years. In the spirit of a greater commitment to caring for others, individuals can engage with nonprofits virtually, even as society begins to transition back to “normal.”
Skilled volunteering (sometimes referred to as pro bono consulting) is when an individual, often with a specific professional expertise, helps a nonprofit solve a complex operational or business issue. This could include helping a nonprofit develop a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy, or assisting with financial modeling and budgeting, or helping to implement new technology solutions.
Businses Volunteers’ communityCONNECT – a forum for nonprofits to post their needs and for our corporate partners and individuals to find volunteer opportunities that fit their skills, comfort, and availability- houses a variety of skilled volunteer opportunities that can be completed virtually.
According to a 2016 report by Maryland Nonprofits, 80% of nonprofits in Maryland are very small, all volunteer organizations with annual revenues of $25,000 or less. Skilled volunteering provides vital resources and support for nonprofits who do not have the capacity or funding to complete such projects on their own.
The Value of Skilled Volunteering
- Skilled volunteering is about more than just doing good in the community. It’s also about developing talent through real world application of leadership skills. Skilled volunteering is a way to build up-and-coming leaders as the projects naturally require collaboration, communication, and self-awareness. Thus, giving employees the chance to practice agility and effective decision making.
- Skilled volunteering helps to cultivate your workforce. By connecting employees to the community and causes they care about they are more likely to be engaged and productive within the business.
- Skilled volunteering fosters strong organizational culture. Skilled volunteering (and the collaboration that is associated with it) is a way for business to live their corporate values. This byproduct of community engagement drives innovation and cross departmental collaboration.
According to Covestro, 80% of executives believe skills-based volunteerism could help employees satisfy their desire for purpose and hone their teamwork and leadership abilities.
At the end of the day, like you, we want to make an impact in our community. We want to see nonprofits thrive by fulfilling their mission. As COVID-19 has done with many ideas, we challenge you to think past the traditional definition of volunteering, engaging with nonprofits in new and innovative ways.