October 23rd, 2013 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

Reach’s Trusteeworks Matching Service will be free from 1 November 2013 for charities with an annual turnover of under £1 million. Reach believes that removing the entry level charge of £75 for smaller charities, who have limited funds for recruiting, will make a big difference by helping them to strengthen their boards.

Strong boards, with a sufficient breadth of experience and skills, are crucial for charities facing difficult decisions in an uncertain economic climate. The ability to recruit outside a charity’s immediate networks by using a service like Reach is an important factor in this process.

The Trusteeworks Matching Service provides a free, high-quality introduction to skilled volunteers. The trustee role appears on Reach’s register of available trustee opportunities, and Reach’s recruitment teams search their extensive register of available volunteers, sound out candidates and forward suitable names to the charity.

In addition to the Matching Service, Reach offers the Trusteeworks Matching Plus Service and the Trusteeworks Premium Service which provide additional features such as preparing advertising copy for the role and in-depth screening and briefing of candidates.

Reach is the biggest recruiter of trustees in the UK having placed nearly 750 with charities all over the country since the launch of Trusteeworks in October 2009, including 185 in 2012 and 142 so far this year. Overall, Reach placed 500 volunteers in 2012 representing an estimated value of £9 million worth of skills transferred into the charity sector, and registered over 1,000 new volunteers and more than 1,100 placement opportunities with charities.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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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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Adi Gaskell
July 18th, 2011 by Guest Contributor

Guest blogger Adi Gaskell examines the wider value of corporate volunteering

For several years now Google have been reaping the benefits of their Innovation Time Off, or 20% time as it is perhaps more commonly known.  The basic premise is simple.  Google encourage employees to spend 20% of their time on projects that interest them.  Some of the company’s newer services, such as Gmail, Google News, Orkut, and AdSense originated from these independent endeavours.

At the World Innovation Forum earlier this year, Dan Pink spoke about the need to re-design our reward systems if we really want to encourage innovative activity.  He highlighted a Harvard study from the 90’s whereby researchers tested our value systems.  The researchers presented a few hundred works of art to a group of evaluators.  Each artist commissioned 10 commissioned and 10 non-commissioned works.  In theory the two sets of work were comparable, yet when it came to being judged, the commissioned works were rated as significantly less creative.

Shifting this example to our professional lives, our 9-5 existence is our commissioned work, what we do outside of our paid for work is non-commissioned time.  Google recognise this and give employees 8 hours a week of ‘non-commissioned time’.

Broadening the reach of non-commissioned time

An increasing number of companies are broadening the reach of such unstructured time however to allow employees to engage in activities in the local community.  Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Cisco are some of the leading lights in corporate volunteering, and they are open with their expectations of benefits to their bottom line.  With the Big Society in full swing no doubt this issue will take on added importance in the lives of the UK workforce.

German research supports the idea that allowing staff to do good deeds away from the office helps their performance in the office.  Eva Mojza and colleagues from the University of Konstanz identified a number of features of voluntary work they propose could give psychological benefits.

For instance they believed that volunteering helps us to switch off from the usual office grind, aiding mental recovery.  It is something we freely engage in, thus makes us feel useful.  It involves additional social contact and provides opportunity to learn new things.

To test this they surveyed a number of German people that were in work and volunteered at least one day per week.  They provided ratings on the psychological variables of detachment, needs satisfaction and mastery experiences.

Selfless people = happier people

The researchers found that the volunteers felt more connected to others, competent, and in control of their lives after volunteering. Equivalent effects were found for psychological detachment and mastery experiences: volunteering helped to shrug off workplace concerns and gave opportunities to meet challenges.

These benefits also carried through into their work the following day.  The volunteers were found to be happier at work and were better active listeners.  It proved particularly effective at cushioning the stresses of office life.

So in addition to all the add-on benefits of improved branding, attractiveness to new recruits and so on, corporate volunteering makes employees happier and more productive.  How do you develop a corporate volunteering program?

Steps to creating a corporate volunteering program
•    What interests your staff?  The first step is to find out what is of interest to your staff.  Use this to direct your volunteering efforts.
•    Liase with the community.  Once you know the area you will work in, contact some local non-profits to see who could use some extra hands.  Don’t just impose yourselves on a charity though; make sure you work with them to find ways that benefit both parties.
•    Set goals.  Treat this like any other project.  Create goals you wish to gain from the program and monitor performance.
•    Enjoy it.  This is meant to be fun, so enjoy yourselves.

If you’d like some extra info then this whitepaper might be what you need.

This is a guest article by Adi Gaskell, editor of The Management Blog for the Chartered Management Institute. Adi 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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"Don't just stand there"
February 27th, 2011 by Charlotte Zamboni

A new scheme has been launched which is putting some of the brightest management talent at telecoms giant BT to work for voluntary organisations.

Under the scheme, members of BT’s management ‘future talent pool’ are being encouraged and supported by their employer to take on voluntary roles in the third sector. Reach is helping the executives – who are all on a fast track for promotion – to identify the organisations for which they would like to volunteer. And although the scheme is only just getting off the ground, it is already having a huge impact on the charities it is benefiting.

When BT executive Mark Collins first began talking to Reach about the sort of organisation he would like to volunteer for, he had some sort of children’s charity in mind. But after being presented with several potential opportunities to consider, he headed off in a very different direction: working with the board of Vision Housing, which provides housing and ongoing support to ex-offenders prior to and on their release from prison.

‘It was not the sort of organisation I had considered before, but there was something about Vision which I found interesting’, recalls Mark. ‘I had no idea that such an organisation even existed. It was well out of my comfort zone, but that was part of the attraction. I felt it could help expand my knowledge of life outside the corporate world and provide me with interesting new insights’.

Mark, who is Director of IT Support at BT’s Open Reach division, felt that working with Vision Housing would help broaden his horizons and contribute to his personal and professional development. And from the start, he was able to make a major contribution to the organisation. The board was grappling with some big IT issues, and Mark was able immediately to put his technical knowledge to work to help resolve them. Since then he says he’s begun to add value outside his specific area of expertise.

‘I’m being given the opportunity to bring my business skills to bear in a number of areas’, he explains. ‘My training and experience at BT of interviewing job candidates, for example, has enabled me to help the Vision board select a new member of staff. But more generally, I feel I am helping them to think of the organisation in more business-like terms.

‘I am encouraging them to consider what competition they face, to define what in business is known as their value proposition and to think about the balance between risk and opportunity’, says Mark. ‘Although Vision does not make money, it wants to provide services. And things like cash flow and growth plans are just as relevant to charities as they are to businesses.’

Mark’s contribution to Vision Housing is certainly highly valued and appreciated. Vision’s Chairman, Adrian Gains, describes him as ‘the perfect trustee’ and is full of praise for his technical skills and personal qualities.

‘We have a number of ex-offenders sitting on our board and meetings can sometimes get a bit chaotic,’ Adrian explains. ‘I think sometimes he regrets not working with children.  Mark is a very good listener, a calming influence and a great board member. Although he has a busy professional career, Mark ensures that he attends all our meetings and events and makes a valuable contribution to the organisation.

‘We are undertaking a review of our governance and I have asked Mark if he would get more involved with our business and strategy development.  We are expanding and we need more heavyweight, independent oversight.  This is something Mark can give us that we previously lacked.’

Mark’s contributions to the work of Vision Housing have been made over several months. But the impact that BT volunteers have on voluntary organisations seems to make itself felt very quickly. The Parent Support Group (PSG) based in South-East London works with parents and carers of young people who are involved in criminal or other anti-social behaviour. It’s a small charity run single-handedly by Anne Williams, with the support of a team of volunteers. Recently, she’s begun working with Andy Cross, Director of Learning and Development for BT’s retail operations.

‘I have only met Andy once, for about three hours, and all I can say is that by the time he left I felt that a huge cloud had been lifted,’ explains Anne Williams. ‘My mind had felt jumbled and I was in chaos about the future direction of the organisation. It was so very, very useful to be able to talk things through with Andy.

‘He was able to help me structure things in a very workable way, and what’s more he did it all with ease. We talked through what direction PSG might take in the changing economic climate and how we could prepare for the future. It was a brilliant discussion. Andy had a really collaborative approach and was easy to work with.’

It is perhaps not surprising that Andy was able to work so effectively with Anne. A human resources expert, he is also a trained executive coach. And since his first meeting with Anne, Andy has been working with her to develop a business plan for her organisation.

‘It’s not a fancy document. Just something that articulates the basics about what PSG is and what it does,’ explains Andy. ‘We are trying to apply the same principles that businesses would use in mapping out their strategic direction. My next step will be to begin working with PSG’s executive board to ensure that they provide Anne with the support that she needs.

‘Up until now, Anne has been trying to do too much by herself. She’s been performing the roles of CEO, operations director, chief technical officer and everything else. It is time for the executive board to relieve her of some of this work.’

Andy has a special passion for volunteering. He is the lead on staff volunteering for his division at BT and has been a volunteer himself in the past.

‘Working for an organisation like PSG means a lot to me, both in terms of my own development and the opportunity to use my skills and experience to help others,’ says Andy. ‘The charity wanted to change direction, and that is the sort of work I have done for businesses in the past. I really felt I could help them.’

‘PSG works in a very poor area where local kids face big challenges,’ he adds. As the father of three children myself, I felt I could have an affinity with the organisation. Learning more about what they do has opened my eyes and has put other things, like the pressures of my job, into perspective for me. It’s turning into a highly rewarding experience.’

Charlotte was Reach’s Marketing Manager until 2011

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Stack of used notebooks
April 9th, 2010 by Reach

People Management, the official magazine of the The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), has featured Reach in an article about employee volunteering.

The article, which is featured online as well as in the print edition , is entitled Volunteering: Not just giving.

Drawing on examples from across Reach’s placements, Reach CEO Sarah King gives an insight into the world of value employee volunteering can offer, and best practice tips for companies and HR managers looking to introduce such schemes.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the professional body for those involved in the management and development of people. It has 130,000 individual members.

You can read the article in full here.

Reach Volunteering: connecting people, skills and good causes.

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