February 24th, 2015 by Janet Thorne

As you may have read before, we are building a new online platform for our service, which will make it easier for charities and volunteers to connect. It will provide a better, swifter and more engaging service, and, hopefully, entice many more charities and volunteers to join up.

We believe that it will completely revolutionise skills-based volunteering: volunteers will find it easier to access interesting opportunities, charities will be able to connect directly with highly skilled individuals looking to make a difference; and everyone will be able to direct their own activity to suit their own purposes.

“We believe that it will completely revolutionise skills-based volunteering”

Most importantly, it will enable us to scale up what we’re doing so that we can provide charities with a bigger pool of talented professionals, and offer these professionals a greater range of opportunities to suit their particular interests and skills.

Those who have been following more closely might have noticed that we have been building this platform throughout 2014, and our original timing has slipped a little… What can I say? It is an ambitious project!

We are crystal clear about what we need the new platform to do, but there have been lots of complexities to resolve: for example how to cater for people who want to recruit volunteers and be a volunteer themselves? Or how can we best migrate opportunities which are mid-recruitment? These are just a few of the issues that have been exercising our collective brains.

Happily, the end is now in sight and we are aiming to launch in the summer. We will be in touch with more details nearer the time. In the meantime, I’m pleased to say that things are progressing well: feedback from initial testing has been very positive and our partnership with LinkedIn has flourished.

I am honoured to have spoken at the UK launch of LinkedIn’s Volunteer Market, part of their LinkedIn for good initiative, on Thursday 5 February.  When we go live with our new platform, we will automatically cross-post all of our volunteering roles to LinkedIn, providing great exposure for the roles, and enabling us to reach a wider audience of people who may not have considered volunteering before.

It’s a very exciting time for us at Reach and we look forward to sharing the fruits of our labour soon.

Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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Janet at LinkedIn Volunteering
February 6th, 2015 by Janet Thorne

We are delighted to be key partners for LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. This UK roll out of their service, which enables charities to recruit volunteers from their vast professional network, was launched yesterday evening, and I was very honoured to be asked to speak.

‘Professional’ volunteering is coming of age…

For the past 35 years, we’ve have been connecting charities with people willing to volunteer their skills. In the last couple of years we’ve noticed an upsurge in interest from people wanting volunteering with ‘higher impact’- seeking to use their professional expertise to make a difference.

More charities too, are beginning to consider how they might better use this kind of pro-bono resource, and how to recruit trustees in a more open, purposeful way. Our TrusteeWorks service experienced a 60% jump in both demand and successful placements last year alone.

That said, we know that we are only scratching the surface. Thousands of charities have board vacancies, and how many more are struggling to deliver or innovate for want of sufficient resource?

The potential is huge

The untapped opportunities are huge, and this is what is so exciting about LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace. With over 17 million members in the UK, LinkedIn can provide massive exposure for volunteering.  People are always more likely to respond to an opportunity that fits them, than to a generic call for volunteers. For example, a graphic designer for an arts festival in aid of homeless people…. LinkedIn serves up volunteer positions like this to match member’s skills, enticing a whole range of people who might never have considered volunteering before. It’s what Alison Dorsey calls, ‘the puppy in the window’ effect.

Our experience of the Volunteer Marketplace

We have been piloting LinkedIn’s job posting and search tools to recruit volunteers since 2013, and have sourced over 500 applicants this way. Numbers aren’t the whole story though: by using the search tools our TrusteeWorks team have been able to find ideal candidates with very specific skills and expertise for board positions.

Of course, the Volunteer Marketplace is not panacea. It is really a tool – and how well it works for you depends on how effectively you use it. To recruit well, charities still need to think through what they really need, how to craft this into a good volunteer role, what skills and experience they are looking for, and how to create postings that will attract the people with these attributes. And most people did not join LinkedIn to volunteer, so they may need coaching through how charities differ, or the rights and responsibilities of volunteering. People who are job hunting with some urgency sometimes ignore the ‘volunteer’ tag, too.

Why our collaboration with LinkedIn is great!

LinkedIn themselves appreciate this broader picture, which is why they are so great to collaborate with. I confess that when I first learnt about their volunteer marketplace I was nervous; given LinkedIn’s size they could have blown us out of the water without even noticing. Happily, they absolutely get the value that brokers like Reach bring to the equation, and have made us, along with Do-it, key partners.

This means that charities can access the volunteer marketplace free of charge when they register through us. At the moment we can only post manually so we post just a selection (if you register a role with us and want us to include your opportunity in that selection, just ask.) When we launch our new platform this spring we will be able to cross-post all opportunities, giving great exposure to every volunteer role.

There is an abundance of great people out there, willing to donate their expertise. They just need connecting up with the right opportunity, in the right way; a combination of lots of promotion and well-honed volunteer recruitment processes. Through our partnership with LinkedIn we can offer both!


Janet Thorne leads Reach as Chief Executive

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