2014 Calendar
January 22nd, 2014 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

Reach Volunteering has entered 2014 on a strong note! We have secured long-term funding from institutions like GlaxoSmithKline and City Bridge Trust and plan to introduce iReach, our new web-based platform. This will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the U.K.

iReach will come into service this summer, building an online community where charities and skilled volunteers meet, interact, and find their ideal match. It will create an increased number of matches and significantly reduce Reach’s transaction costs.

Reach had an excellent 2013 helping to place 20% more skilled volunteers than in the previous year, representing an estimated value of £8mn worth of skills transferred into the sector.

A Reach highlight was the decision to make our Trusteeworks Matching Service free from 1 November for charities with an annual turnover of less than £1mn. This led to a 150% increase in demand for the service.

There was a huge surge in volunteer registrations in the second half of the year, with an average of 167 new volunteers joining the Reach register every month, double the amount for the same period last year!

Charities continually need to fill vacancies in key roles, particularly as trustees. Reach, as the U.K’s leading skilled volunteering charity has been providing this invaluable service for more than 30 years. Our placement advisors are widely respected for their expertise and enthusiasm in finding the right match between skilled volunteer and charity.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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Spark of creativity
October 30th, 2013 by Janet Thorne

We were very pleased to be invited to participate in the Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving held yesterday, chaired by the Rt Hon Mr David Blunkett MP, which explored how to increase the giving of time and money across all generations, with a particular focus on how older people can ‘give the gift of giving’ to younger generations.

This is a subject close to our hearts: older people are a crucial asset for us.

Not only do they have a lifetime of skills and experience to give, but they have more time and are less likely to leave due to change in circumstances. In fact, of all the people who register with Reach, the over 60s are almost twice as likely to actually take on a role with a charity. And if they are pouring their time and talents into volunteering for a cause they care about, they are bound to be talking about this with family members. What better way to sell giving across the generational divide?

I was very encouraged that volunteering, and in particular, skills-based volunteering, was given some real air time. And, for once, the debate did not just centre on the supply side (“How do we get more people to volunteer?”).

There was recognition that charities must be more creative in their ‘ask’ and need support and encouragement to invest more time and thought in how to engage with volunteers more effectively.

There was general agreement that volunteering must shake off its ‘worthy’ image by adopting what Dr Suzanne Richards, in the presentation of her research, termed a ‘social marketing’ approach – all music to our ears! I have never been to a parliamentary inquiry before so was unsure what I was in for.

I enjoyed the unexpected frankness (the acknowledgement that some charities risk being run in the interests of their volunteers rather than their beneficiaries) and the animated discussion about living legacies. Who would have thought they would be so inflammatory?

Here’s Third Sector’s take on my comments. I look forward to seeing the final write-up and recommendations.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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Small Charity Week Team
May 14th, 2013 by Guest Contributor

Conchita from The FSI guest blogs in the run-up to 2013’s Small Charity Week.

Recent research by the FSI into the skills gaps within the small charity sector has shown that charitable organisations with an annual turnover under £1.5 million continue to struggle in key areas which impacts on their ability to deliver services.

The full report shows that as small charities prioritise the use of funding to deliver frontline programmes, they are increasingly unable to train or develop staff and volunteers. 66% of respondents stated there was no funding available for training and development, while 37% said there would be no room to improve their charitable services, which could impair the quality delivered to beneficiaries.

Small charities reported that impact reporting, long-term strategic planning and marketing were the areas in which they were struggling to plug this skills gap in their organisation. To see the full report, please click here.

Small Charity Week 2013 will be taking place between the 17th-22nd June and aims to address some of the issues raised by small charities as areas in which they struggle. Small charities can sign up to six days of free initiatives and competitions, including cash prizes, pro-bono advice and guidance from third sector and business experts including, the FSI, Reach, Oxfam and Credit Suisse to name a few. Also available will be opportunities for small charities to engage with policy makers and influencers when Nick Hurd, Minister of Civil Society hosts a cross-party event at Westminster on Policy Day.

Small charities have told us they continue to rely heavily on volunteers to support their activity and for the first time the FSI are including a Volunteering Day into the week’s programme to help small charities to promote their volunteer opportunities and find the skills they need for their organisation. We are excited to be working alongside Reach to support charities on this day.

The full breakdown for the week is as follows:

  • I Love Small Charities Day – 17 June: Three competitions to win funds for your charity
  • Big Advice Day – 18 June: Pro-bono advice on any charity topic of your choosing will be available from experts across the sector and business leaders either face to face or via phone or Skype
  • Policy Day – 19 June: Local and national events will be held to support engagement between small charities and policy makers and influencers
  • Volunteering Day – 20 June: Showcase your small charity volunteering opportunities and register for free events including a Media Trust speed-matching event.
  • Fundraising Day – 21 June: Take part in a number of competitions and initiatives to raise vital funds for your small charity for FREE, including the chance to win a share of £1,000 from the Vodafone Foundation, to raise funds from eBay users during Small Charity Week or receive your quiz toolkit to run your own community event.
  • Celebration Day – 22 June: Book your free charity stand to engage with the public at a mini festival held in central London, or why not run your own event to celebrate your amazing work.

Small charities can sign up to all of the free activities of Small Charity Week through the website smallcharityweek.com and follow news through twitter @SCWeek2013 or the Facebook page

Conchita Garcia is Head of Projects and Development at The FSI. Here she blogs in a personal capacity.

Guest contributors are invited by Reach to give their own take on issues related to skilled volunteering and trusteeship. We hope you enjoy their articles.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Reach.

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Man working at a laptop
November 5th, 2012 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

Reach Volunteering is developing a new web-based platform which will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the UK by building an online community where charities and volunteers will meet, interact, and find their ideal match.

The platform – provisionally called iReach – will be developed over the next three years following Reach’s successful application for an Innovation in Giving Fund (IIGF) grant of up to £50,000.

Over the coming years the grant will help the platform to be developed, tested and brought to operational readiness using the skills of volunteers and staff supplemented with additional expertise where it is needed.

Reach Chief Executive Janet Thorne said:

“We are very pleased to have received IIGF support and are excited about implementing the new platform. Our research with charities and skilled volunteers has shown that only a fraction of the skills-based volunteering that could happen actually does so – currently, 60% of charities need professionally skilled volunteers and 48% have a board vacancy.

“There is a strong need for an online platform which allows charities and volunteers the independence to flexibly recruit and volunteer, encourages dialogue and enables them to find each other in different ways. At the end of its third year, iReach will have enabled 10,000 volunteering opportunities, helping thousands of charities across the UK fill their skills gaps.

“Charities will discover a pool of motivated, skilled volunteers, more effective and flexible ways of recruiting the right person and support and inspiration to increase the impact of skills-based volunteering on their charity. Volunteers will find loads of help to find the right opportunity as well as a radical increase in the range of ways they can offer their talents.”

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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World Suicide Prevention Day
September 10th, 2012 by Caroline Beaumont

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a World Health Organisation sponsored event promoting worldwide action to prevent suicides.

An average of almost 3000 people commit suicide daily, and it’s estimated that twenty times that number make unsuccessful attempts to take their lives.

While promoting awareness of the issues is one of the aims, getting more people involved with making sure everyone has access to help if they need it is the other.

While you might think that means volunteering on a helpline or as a befriender, these aren’t the only ways you can make a difference.

At Reach we recently put a Surrey branch of the Samaritans in touch with a volunteer Treasurer, and we’re now looking for a volunteer to fundraise for a Hampshire counselling group. Whilst not on the front line both of these are classic cases of a back-room function without which front line service delivery couldn’t function.

Whatever your background, and wherever your strengths lie, there is a way you can make a difference.

Click on some of the links below to take the first step to acting today.

If you are experiencing suicidal feelings now, you can find support immediately by calling the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, or following this link.

Caroline is Reach’s former Director of Services

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Registration form
February 20th, 2012 by Janet Thorne

Well, that is what quite a few charities have said to me in a moment of frankness, but it’s not a point of view you often hear in the public discourse about volunteering.

The Big Society, the Giving White Paper, RockCorps etc all focus on getting  more people to volunteer through initiatives  such as rewards for volunteering, micro volunteering, employee volunteering, as though drumming up an army of volunteers is a solution in itself.

However, as anyone who has either worked with volunteers, or been one themselves, knows, it’s not quite as simple as that. Many people have had a negative experience of volunteering – a project jeopardised by an unreliable volunteer perhaps, or conversely, the frustration of waiting around feeling  under-utilised.

It’s not that charities don’t need more volunteers – for example almost half all charities have at least one vacancy on their board (and that vacancy means not only a role unfilled but pressure on remaining board members) and over 50% of charities we surveyed struggle to access the skills they need. And it’s not that volunteers can’t do wonderful things – many charities could not survive a day without them.

At Reach we are inspired on a daily basis by what volunteers do for charities, including our own where they do everything from service delivery, IT maintenance and software development through to market research, communications strategies, and much, much more.

The problem is that recruiting, training and managing volunteers requires a big investment of time, an investment which can outweigh the benefits a volunteer might  bring. The stakes are even higher in skills based volunteering where there is a greater initial investment (identifying requirements, shaping them into a viable volunteering role, and then attracting and selecting the person with the right skills, availability, motivation and location) and also greater benefits (increased capacity, an injection of valuable skills and expertise, a fresh perspective drawn from experience in other sectors, to name but a few).

It can be tricky to get it right (it can be so difficult to turn down that kind offer of help, even when you know deep down that you should…) and if you get just one part wrong, and sometimes even when you do it all right, you can find yourself having to re-recruit whilst covering for the absence of a key volunteer. So many charities conclude that it’s just not worth the bother.

What the sector needs is a more balanced approach to volunteering,  one which broadens the focus from increasing the supply of volunteers to stimulating demand and raising the quality of volunteering – helping and inspiring charities to identify which roles volunteers could effectively play in their organisations and more flexible and effective ways of recruiting those volunteers. Most volunteers are still recruited by word of mouth, for example, a system that might work well for some charities blessed with good networks, but does nothing for the less well connected -or for diversity.

We have fantastic volunteers on our own register, languishing for want of being asked, and it seems a crying shame to see such great potential going to waste, but until there is more focus on supporting charities to engage volunteers better, and more investment in matching supply and demand better through more flexible and effective recruitment tools, volunteering will not fulfil its potential.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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Jehangir Mehentee
September 21st, 2011 by Guest Contributor

Our guest blogger Jehangir shares his experience of being a mentor

I was a performance management director in my last role.  As a Careers Development Group (CDG) career development coach, I coached jobseekers, passing on my experience and mentoring them towards employment.

CDG’s personal advisors refer jobseekers to me and I see them for about an hour at a time, although the length of time varies depending on their needs. I could be seeing the same person every week for 12 weeks, but the average number of appointments I will have with them is six.

It’s satisfying to see jobseekers moving forward, and for me to be coaching them after starting the relationship on a more directive note. Some people arrive in a negative frame of mind but often they just need an empathetic ear and someone to listen to them. Generally, they gain in confidence the more they talk and I enjoy understanding other people’s perspectives; they help to inform my own.

The journey jobseekers travel is one of returning to self-acceptance because up until they lost their job, that job defined who they were. Once they achieve that, they widen their perspective of the kind of work they could pursue. I think you can apply the saying ‘when one teaches, two learn’ to volunteering. You can’t help being affected by the process and through gaining new insights about others and yourself.

I’ve coached quite a few jobseekers to date. Most of them are over forty years old, and some over fifty. I try to keep in contact with as many as possible after they have left CDG, to touch base and, if required, offer support.

Jehangir Mehentee has an interest in understanding how individuals and teams perform during challenging and stressful times. He works as a coach,  change management agent and volunteer Youth Worker. You can follow him on twitter @JehangirPinC.

Find out more about coaching long-term jobseekers to success here.

Guest contributors are invited by Reach to give their own take on issues related to skilled volunteering and trusteeship. We hope you enjoy their articles.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Reach.

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Yes, no or maybe
July 22nd, 2011 by Sarah King

Kirsty Palmer, Chief Executive at Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Centre, responding to The Big Squeeze Survey, highlights that many local charities just don’t have the resources to handle the surge of volunteers that the Government and others seem to think will be the saviour of the sector.  Kirsty talks about the well-meaning but wrongly-skilled volunteer manpower which may pose as many challenges as it does solutions.

If we are going to make use of the incredible goodwill that clearly still exists to volunteer for a cause then it is essential that charities are given access to the additional resources they need to take advantage of that commitment.  That is more than a bit of time to recruit volunteers, it starts with helping charities work out what help they do actually need.

At this time when the sector most needs help Reach has found that they are often least able to take it.  Many know what skills or volunteer resources they need but haven’t got time to articulate it to attract the people they need, many have no idea that they can source people with skills willing to help and often quite self directing once they understand the charity.

Our own research highlights two deeper issues:

  1. that charities are so overwhelmed by the depth of the challenge and the scale of change that they cannot stand back enough to define their needs and
  2. the skills needs of charities are not yet being matched well enough with the people available to help.

Many people looking for jobs are offering their time as administrators to charities who, as LVSC’s report also points out, are not needed by most charities. Instead charities need skills. Our own research highlight this too.

Perhaps most interesting for me in Kirsty’s comments in today’s Guardian Blog was that those people offering themselves as administrators actually have the very skills charities need.  So it would be great if some of the proposals coming out would do more than encourage mass use of apprenticeships and interns. The support needs to offer charities access to these people with great skills that see no opportunities for them and show this currently turned off pool of fantastic talent that they can be valued for their skills and experience.

Sarah is Reach’s former Chief Executive, leading the organisation from 2008 until 2012

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Caroline Beaumont
July 20th, 2011 by Caroline Beaumont

Caroline Beaumont, Reach’s Director of Services, has written a blog piece for the influencial Chartered Management Institute.

In a post titled Becoming a charity trustee can help your community and your career, Caroline talks about how managers can turn their skills to becoming trustees and skilled volunteers.

Describing trusteeship as the, “kind of volunteering that can complement and add value to your career”, managers are encouraged to think about the impact taking up a trustee position can have on their personal and professional development.

You can read the article in full here.

If you’re looking to use your management experience to find a trustee or other skilled volunteering opportunity, you will can Register with Reach today.

Caroline is Reach’s former Director of Services

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Files and folders
May 24th, 2011 by Reach

Reach, the skilled volunteering charity,  welcomes the clear signal in yesterday’s Giving White Paper  that volunteering in general, and skilled volunteering in particular, is a valid means of giving and has real value for voluntary organisations.

Sarah King, Reach’s Chief Executive, said, “Reach’s recent skills survey identified that local voluntary groups urgently need skilled people to support income generation, change delivery, and to serve as trustees.  New ways of encouraging people to give their time that will be supported by the Giving White Paper proposals can only help the 97% of charities that find it difficult to access the skills they need.

“The commitment to fund local and national infrastructure to better serve their communities is a positive message for a sector under pressure. We are pleased to see this recommendation of the NCVO Funding Commission taken on board.”

The Government’s White Paper sets out plans to make it easier to give time and money to good causes. New commitments include a £10 million Social Action Fund, Challenge Prizes for the best volunteer ideas and a £30 million fund to improve volunteering infrastructure.

Investment in volunteer management is essential and Reach is reassured to see there is money available to help organisations train and support this critical workforce.  However, Sarah King expressed some concern at the emphasis on giving time and skills with very low recognition of the support civil society organisations need to create great opportunities.

“Even with the investment in volunteer management training, the ability of voluntary groups to capitalise on new ways of giving time and skills can very limited.  They need help with shaping roles that take advantage of the skills being offered and the way in which people want to volunteer.  At Reach, we are committed to seeing that everyone can find the skilled people or fulfilling opportunities they need.”

Clear skilled volunteering message in White Paper

Tuesday 24th May 2011

Reach, the skilled volunteering charity, welcomes the clear signal in yesterday’s Giving White Paper that volunteering in general, and skilled volunteering in particular, is a valid means of giving and has real value for voluntary organisations.

Sarah King, Reach’s Chief Executive, said, “Reach’s recent skills survey identified that local voluntary groups urgently need skilled people to support income generation, change delivery, and to serve as trustees. New ways of encouraging people to give their time that will be supported by the Giving White Paper proposals can only help the 97% of charities that find it difficult to access the skills they need.

“The commitment to fund local and national infrastructure to better serve their communities is a positive message for a sector under pressure. We are pleased to see this recommendation of the NCVO Funding Commission taken on board.”

The Government’s White Paper sets out plans to make it easier to give time and money to good causes. New commitments include a £10 million Social Action Fund, Challenge Prizes for the best volunteer ideas and a £30 million fund to improve volunteering infrastructure.

Investment in volunteer management is essential and Reach is reassured to see there is money available to help organisations train and support this critical workforce. However, Sarah King expressed some concern at the emphasis on giving time and skills with very low recognition of the support civil society organisations need to create great opportunities.

“Even with the investment in volunteer management training, the ability of voluntary groups to capitalise on new ways of giving time and skills can very limited. They need help with shaping roles that take advantage of the skills being offered and the way in which people want to volunteer. At Reach, we are committed to seeing that everyone can find the skilled people or fulfilling opportunities they need.”

Reach is the UK’s leading skills-based volunteering charity

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