Ticking a survey
March 20th, 2014 by Madeleine Boomgaarden

How does skills-based volunteering affect leadership skills?

This is one of the questions that Niraj Saraf is seeking to answer through research with the Ashridge Centre for Business and Sustainability. The research aims to uncover the motivations for volunteering and capture how volunteering enhances skills and abilities.  It will provide valuable insights into a growing area of volunteering.

We at Reach, the only UK organisation which focuses exclusively on skills-based volunteering, are supporting Niraj’s project and it would be great if volunteers with professional skills were able to help him by completing the survey and sharing their experiences.

It closes on 31 March and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Madeleine was Reach’s Marketing Manager until August 2014

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Felicity McLeister
November 6th, 2013 by Guest Contributor

Felicity introduces the discipline of Operational Research

Operational research (OR) is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help make better decisions.

I have recently taken up the role as OR Pro Bono Project Manager at The OR Society.  Having worked in the third sector for six years and having never heard the term OR, I can really see the need to raise OR’s profile in the sector.

The idea of providing pro bono OR support to the third sector has been discussed among ORS members for a number of years; a pilot scheme run by volunteers has been successfully running since 2011. Please click here for case studies.

How can OR help you?

Third sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources.  These are some of the issues the organisations we’ve worked with have faced:

  • ‘We have lots of different options for the future but it’s impossible to decide which to choose in such uncertain times.’
  • ‘We’re under huge pressure to do more with less, and we don’t know how we’re going to do it.’
  • ‘It’s hard to stay objective when we’re faced with such emotionally charged decisions.’
  • ‘We know we’re doing a good job – but how can we prove it?’

Without the tools to model different scenarios and understand the consequences of them, it isn’t surprising that many organisations tend to rely on gut feelings.

An OR practitioner comes armed with an array of analytical tools plus the skills and experience to identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.

It won’t make the decisions for you, but it provides some of the head to your organisation’s heart and, when you combine the two, you are more likely to act in the interests of your organisation and its beneficiaries.

We have already helped several third sector organisations and are keen to work with many more.

If you work for a third sector organisation, would like to discuss pro bono support or need more information, please email me on felicity.mcleister@theorsociety.com quoting ‘OR in the third Sector’.

Felicity  McLeister blogs in behalf of the Operational Research (OR) Society

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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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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January 3rd, 2013 by Robin Gordon-Walker

Reach had an excellent year in 2102 helping to place 480 skilled volunteers with a wide range of charities across the Third Sector.

Charities continually need to fill vacancies in key roles, particularly as Trustees, and Reach as the skilled volunteering charity has been providing this invaluable service for more than 30 years with our placements advisors widely respected for their expertise and enthusiasm in finding the right match between skilled volunteer and charity.

Reach starts 2013 on a positive note with secured finding, including a £120,000 grant from the City of London’s City Bridge Trust and with plans well advanced to introduce iReach – 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.

A retired journalist, Robin now looks after Reach’s press and PR functions on a voluntary basis.

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Ticking a survey
June 8th, 2012 by Reach

Today we’re launching our new survey for charities with whom we have made placements during 2011 and up to February 2012.

We’re looking to review how effective our work has been for these charities, with the aim of showing the positive contributions Reach’s volunteers have on the voluntary sector.

By collecting examples of the long lasting impact volunteers can have, and adding them to our regular reporting, we hope to develop compelling stories and evidence that can promote and carry forward the work we do in the future.

The answers from this survey will be reviewed at the end of June, and we aim to send similar surveys on a quarterly basis in the future.

If your organisation has used Reach’s services in the last year, please visit the survey here:

Reach Volunteering: connecting people, skills and good causes.

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June 1st, 2011 by Guest Contributor

To coincide with Volunteers’ Week 2011 Esté van der Walt has shared her experiences of finding a skilled volunteering position through Reach.

I first started volunteering as a university student through local community projects. After moving to London, I missed being involved in the community this way and started to enquire through friends if they knew of any projects that needed help. One friend told me about Reach and their ability to match individual skills with charities in need of volunteers.

To register with Reach was easy and quick and a member got in touch to find the best match. Reach is practical in their approach as they match organisations not only with your skill set, but also with the time you have to give, the location you wish to work in and the type of organisation you would like to join. This practical approach made it possible for me to include a volunteer role in my working week as well as keeping this in balance with my personal life.

The opportunity I received through Reach to work at Knights Youth Centre (also referred to as KYC or Knights) in Streatham, has opened other doors for me too.  I have learnt more about myself, grown as a person and received the opportunity to enrol in a therapy course at Birkbeck University – all thanks to the experience I received due to volunteering at KYC. I have also had the privilege to be part of many activities at Knights, one of the highlights being a 100 mile rowing challenge on the river Wye to raise funds for projects at Knights.

Thursday evenings at Knights are called Seniors where we work with young people age 16-19. The seniors evening have been a wonderful experience and learning opportunity. My strength was in supporting fellow youth workers and the team in general. Volunteering at Knights has not only aided my own personal development, but I have also contributed towards a team with one mutual goal, namely to provide a service to young people in need of support. These include a range of activities, focused workshops on a variety of topics, employment support, sport, sexual health advice and fun cooking meals together.

I would highly recommend volunteering experience provided by Reach.

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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September 15th, 2010 by Guest Contributor

Diana Parkinson, charity consultant at M&E Consulting outlines a ten-step plan for monitoring and evaluation.

‘The Big Society’ is the new coalition government’s programme for the third sector, which it is now referring to as ‘civil society’. It involves supporting the creation and expansion of charities, social enterprises and community groups and facilitating a much bigger role for them in the running of public services. This is likely to be accompanied by a greater emphasis on payment by results and means the voluntary sector will increasingly need to demonstrate that its programmes and initiatives are effective and value for money.

Effective monitoring and evaluation plays a vitally important role in fundraising for charities and community groups. It helps you to identify how your work matches funders’ priorities and therefore equips you to write stronger funding applications. It also enables you to report back to funders about what you have achieved and the difference your work has made.

In addition, monitoring and evaluation helps the growth and development of your organisation. It provides a way of reviewing and developing existing services as well as identifying gaps in your work and helping to plan new services. It helps you to know whether you have achieved what you set out to achieve, and to find out in some detail how your service users have benefited from your work.

So, how should you go about monitoring and evaluating your work? The process involves three main stages, each of which has a number of steps.


STEP 1:  Plan your monitoring and evaluation

Think about when you will need to carry out your monitoring and evaluation, who needs to be involved and what resources will be needed.  You will need to decide whether to involve external evaluators (see below) or to do this work yourself and whether you need to seek any specific funding to support the work.

STEP 2:  Understand your work

Focus on the needs of your service-users and describe in broad terms the difference that you hope to make for them (your aims) and how you plan to bring this about (your objectives).  Make sure that you can link your aims and objectives as otherwise you will find that you are planning work that will not help to achieve any of your aims, or that you have not planned how you will achieve certain aims.

STEP 3: Identify your outputs and outcomes

Specify the services that you will provide (outputs) and the changes or benefits that you hope to bring about as a result (outcomes). Make sure that the outcomes you identify are ones that you expect to occur as a direct result of your activities and that are relevant to your stakeholders.

STEP 4:  Set indicators

Identify what information you will need to collect to show your progress in delivering your outputs and achieving your outcomes (your indicators). You can do this by:

  • identifying your own indicators
  • drawing on standard indicators, or indicators that other people are using
  • using indicators that are set by your funders


STEP 5:  Plan your data collection

Think about how and when you can collect information and what resources this will need. For example, you could:

  • ask your service-users for information e.g. using questionnaires, interviews or tests
  • record information about your service-users e.g. using case records
  • collect information through observation

You need to select the methods that would be the most appropriate for collecting the information you need.

STEP 6:  Develop tools to collect the information you need

Having worked out how you plan to collect your information, you then need to develop tools to do this (i.e. your forms or interview questions) by using/adapting existing tools or by finding off-the-shelf tools that meet your needs. Make sure you think through when and how your tools will be used and pilot the tools.

STEP 7:   Collect your information

Once you have piloted your tools, you can then use them to collect information. Keep an eye on the information you collect to make sure it is useful and appropriate.


STEP 8:  Analyse the information

Examine and assess the information you have collected to find out what it is showing you.

STEP 9:  Write up your findings

Organise your findings so that you can report on your progress in delivering your objectives and achieving your aims. Try to step back from the detail and look for the overall meaning in the information you have collected and use quotes and comments to bring your findings to life.

STEP 10:  Make good use of your findings

Write up your findings, share them with others and use them to inform future work and to report to stakeholders. Above all else, use your evaluation findings to help review and develop your work.

Most organisations choose to carry out their own monitoring and evaluation (self-evaluation). However, some organisations decide to commission an external evaluation to give them a more in-depth and independent perspective. You may find that sometimes funders will require an external evaluation of your work as a condition of their funding.

Diana Parkinson works for M&E Consulting – a small consultancy which supports charities and community groups to develop their own monitoring and evaluation. For more information, visit:  www.monitoringandevaluation.org.uk

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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British coins
May 4th, 2010 by Reach

If you know of a chartered accountant who has assisted an organisation or organistions on a voluntary basis, then nominate them to win an Everybody Counts Award.

The individual will be recognised and the charity which the accountant has volunteered for will receive £2000. Winners and their guests are invited to receive their award at our ICAEW Charity Awards Evening (this year on 15th July) and to network with other sector leaders, practitioners and participants.

To find out more visit the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

Reach Volunteering: connecting people, skills and good causes.

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May 3rd, 2010 by Charlotte Zamboni

Reach is looking for case studies of volunteers who have started or are looking to start volunteering after being on a career break.

This may have been due to ill health, maternity leave or caring for children or redundancy. We would love to talk to you and find out how volunteering has helped you to re-enter the work place or to refresh your skills.

Email us at mail@reachskills.org.uk .

Charlotte was Reach’s Marketing Manager until 2011

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