While today’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become annual events in the last couple of years, its cousin Giving Tuesday is creeping across the Atlantic to UK shores a little more slowly.
Following the US holiday Thanksgiving, the Black Friday day of shopping, followed by Cyber Monday’s online shopping bonanza, gives way to Giving Tuesday, which this year lands on 1 December.
It’s an antidote to the previous two consumer-driven days and a welcome change in emphasis to something more meaningful. It started in America (from New York’s 92Y) in 2012 and is now in 68 countries with #GivingTuesday officially kicking off in the UK in 2014.
Giving Tuesday is intended as a way of giving to a cause you care about, whether that’s local, national or international. It’s a call to action to give something back to our communities.
Charities can harness the feel-good factor of the day and use the day to emphasise the people and causes they work with that need a little help, donations, funds or time.
So what can you give this Giving Tuesday?
Donating to your charity is a fantastic thing to do but what if you are feeling a bit short, give to charity already or just want to do something a bit different?
Giving Tuesday is a great time to consider volunteering. As the UK’s leading skilled volunteering charity, we at Reach (naturally!) recommend giving your skills to a UK charity where they could have more impact. You may have been thinking that you want to get more involved with a cause you love, or you want some development on top of your day job.
Now is the time! Sign up with Reach and donate your skills to a charity.
We have over a thousand skilled volunteer opportunities available – all charities that need a skilled individual to help them achieve a little more.
Your skills could be in governance, HR, IT, copy writing, social media, legal knowledge, engineering, medical. You could be from the private, public, or voluntary sectors. And you could be looking for a short-term role or an ongoing commitment. We’ll have the role for you. All we ask is that you have more than three years experience in your field. Search our volunteer positions now.
Use this Giving Tuesday to make that step and volunteer your skills. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done!
On Monday 16th Nov I pedalled my way to City Hall, Tower Bridge to attend the Inspiring Trusteeship Conference. The event was organised by Greater London Volunteering in partnership with us at Reach and Team London, who provided the glorious City Hall as the venue. Everything was offered pro-bono – a zero budget / no charge conference.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘inspiring’ doesn’t necessarily spring to mind as an obvious prefix to Trusteeship, but as the day unfolded, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed and learnt from the day.
The day started formally, in City Hall’s great Chamber. After the delegates made their way up the gently sloping, spiral ramp, Cameron the chair of GLV introduced himself and guest speakers Dr Alice Maynard CBE and Leon Ward. Alice gave an insightful analysis of trusteeship, focusing on the importance of challenging perspectives on the board and inciting debate amongst members to spark development. I listened avidly as she spoke about her own experience as a trustee and CEO.
Next came Leon, bringing the ‘young persons’ view, which made for a good comparison. At 23, he’d already held many trustee positions and he spoke candidly about his own personal development through trusteeship. He was able to demonstrate how important it was to have a fresh perspective on a trustee board; be it through a younger generation of trustees or implementing maximum terms.
This discussion was followed seamlessly, with a more focused conversation on the specific CEO and Chair relationship within the charity context and beyond. This panel included Ros Oakley (Association of Chairs), Gerald Oppenheim (Chair of The Camden Society), David Gold (Prospectus) and Charles Smith (Chair of the Governing Body at Burdett-Coutts & Townshend Foundation CE Primary School). Afterwards, the floor was opened to questions and I had the important task of handling the roving mic. The Q&A afterwards was lively, particularly when a passing comment on power vs leadership roused many in the audience.
After my 15 minutes of fame, I lingered at the back of the Chamber to watch Janet, Reach’s CEO, present a descriptive Pecha Kucha (in case you don’t know what Pecha Kucha is, check out this link). Her five minutes sharp, were just enough for her to explain a little about our new online service and the tools that it offers for charities looking to find great trustees. As the first of four presentations, she masterfully handled the pressure and left the room awash with questions which was continued during the networking time in the market place, where the Reach stand was inundated with people enquiring into our service.
The other four pecha kucha presentations also provided valuable information in a short space of time, with NCVO on their PQASSO quality mark, as well as the Association of Chairs, Russell Cooke LLP and the Cranfield Trust.
Following lunch, the entire group made its way back up the spiralling ramp, an interesting commute but definitely not the most efficient, to the Chamber where we heard Reena Pastakia talk about her experience of becoming a trustee. I enjoyed listening to her speak. Perhaps it was hearing about the exciting organisation that she’d become a trustee for, Sound Seekers. Or maybe it was just a nice story to listen to, but I thought it split the conference up nicely, allowing for a good balance between discussion and presentation. She spoke inspiringly about how the position had made a huge difference in her life as well as what she had contributed. (You can see Reena speaking the picture above).
For the last hour or so, delegates chose one of four workshops to attend. These were: Legal updates for Trustees, Tips for recruiting great Trustees, Introduction to Trusteeship and Funding landscape in London. I sat in on Introduction to Trusteeship, presented by Janet, who spoke in depth about the significance of any trustee role and the challenges that it may present. After taking a stab at defining the ‘ideal’ trustee board, she settled on the term ‘Critical Friend‘. This is used to refer to the board that is able to challenge and scrutinise its CEO effectively.
The workshop slid nicely onto an interactive chat on Risk vs. Innovation. One of the key points brought up here, was the importance of a board that proactively manages risk rather than avoiding it. The audience seemed more than eager to contribute and some thought provoking points were raised.
To round the workshop off, the group were asked to form smaller teams and then to complete a small task which involved coming up with a strategy needed to solve a specific problem. Despite it coming up to 4 o’clock in a day full of information and chatting with various people, the group remained engaged; a positive evaluation of the event, I thought.
Whilst the last delegates mingled, the Reach team re-grouped and discussed the conference. It seemed we’d all had a good time, achieved a lot and learnt something. For me, it was important to see the great work that people contribute to organisations everywhere, harnessing a lifetime of experience to benefit others. I suppose this is how I find trusteeship inspiring – that people are willing to offer their own skills in a position of huge responsibility, that reverberates globally in some cases but which largely goes unnoticed and mostly un-applauded, except for at events such as these.
Thanks again to GLV and Team London for hosting the event. You can find some of the presentations from the event on the GLV website.
September 5 is the UN’s designated “International Day of Charity.” It is also interestingly enough “Be Late For Something Day,” an unofficial day observed by a US organisation which encourages people to take a break from their busy schedules and “wake up and smell the roses.”
An interesting paradox at first glance – however both ‘days’ encourage people to step off their personal-agenda treadmills and live life in a more outward-looking way.
Considering the state of the world around us, volunteering could have ramifications on all of us, ranging from happier individuals through to large-scale industry and more corporate volunteering programmes and even politics. The importance of volunteering is spread throughout our society. For example, in April this year, Prime Minister David Cameron talked about 3 days of paid volunteering leave for employees working for companies with a workforce of 250 people or more.
So why the 5th of September? If like me, you sometimes suffer from awareness day mystification I’ll explain. International Day of Charity is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recipient of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. On December 17, 2012, the UN designated 5th September as the International Day of Charity, which was first celebrated in 2013:
“Charity plays a significant role in the work of the United Nations and its agencies. On this International Day, I call on people everywhere to act on the charitable impulse that resides in every human being — to start giving and to keep on giving.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day of Charity, 5 September 2014
Quite simply, the International Day of Charity celebrates and raises public awareness of the good work that individuals and charitable organisations do and contribute.
Here at Reach, we believe that one way of encouraging people to make every day an international day of charity is through volunteer work and sharing your professional skills. There are plenty of ways to help, not only those less advantaged than ourselves, but small-scale charities and even larger non-profits that may need a little input in terms of IT, leadership, management, accountancy expertise, trusteeship etc.
Donating your skills and expertise to non-profit organisations increases their capacity and enables them to do a little bit more. Imagine, for example, what it could mean to an organisation if you were an accountant or professional marketeer and give two days a month (or more!) of your time…
At Reach, we have worked with over 10,000 charities supplying them skilled volunteers in order to flourish. For example, we have worked with these particular organisations since our inception in 1979: Abbeyfield, a national charity providing housing for the elderly; SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s’ Families Association) which helps military families and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). We also found volunteers for them this summer – that’s 36 years of working together! We are always looking to work with more charities and help even more fantastic and worthwhile causes.
If you are thinking about sharing your skills, take a look at our website and search the latest opportunities. Charities and non-profits are today looking for a range of expertise from skilled people so what could you contribute?
International Day of Charity encourages a more altruistic way of life, which reminds me of an old school motto “non sibi sed omnibus” (meaning not for oneself but for all). The idea that one should work not just out of personal interest but for the common good is, indeed, a potential game changer.
Happy International Charity Day!