Beacon Counselling, a charity that helps people affected by mental or emotional distress in the North West, was keen to improve the way they wrote and targeted funding bid approaches.
They saw an advertisement about Reach’s services and very quickly we helped them to recruit volunteer Alan Smith who has dramatically raised their fundraising game.
James Harper, the charity’s general manager says:
“Alan’s input has transformed our service. As a result of his input, we have a much more strategic approach with most of our funding bids now successful when before it was very much hit or miss. We are now helping more than a thousand people a year – up four fold from 2008 – and have obtained more contracts with the NHS and local authorities in Lancashire and Cheshire. He played a very big part in helping us to win the coveted GlaxoSmithKline IMPACT Award in 2012, beating 351 other applicants.”
Reach volunteer Alan retired a few years ago from a successful and busy career in engineering and as a company director.
“I was looking to use my business skills in a positive way when I saw an advertisement about Reach. Their staff were very helpful and efficient in researching where I could help and quickly put me in touch with Beacon Counselling – since when we have never looked back!”
Posted in Success Stories Tagged with: Charity awards, Creative volunteer engagement, Fundraising, Good practice in volunteering, Improving performance, News, Organisations, Reach volunteering, Skilled volunteering, Volunteer expertise, Volunteers
Reach Volunteering is sending a mail shot to 12,000 charities and voluntary organisations as part of its autumn campaign ‘Bringing New Organisations to Reach’.
The campaign aims to:
Reach Chief Executive Sarah King said:
“The autumn campaign marks a step up in raising awareness of the services and resources Reach brings to the voluntary sector. The skilled volunteers help organisations to carry out the vital work they do in the community – more important than ever in a climate of reduced public expenditure and uncertainties around how the Big Society may play out.”
Creativity with volunteers
Many organisations engage their volunteers in the familiar roles of administrative support and fundraising. The campaign explains that Reach has thousands of skilled and professional volunteers who can play a vital role such as auditing, evaluating programmes, running a PR campaign, research or designing a Website.
There is an urgent need to boost the number and skills of Trustees. The mail shot describes how TrusteeWorks, the service jointly provided by Reach and Prospectus, helps to ensure that Trustees have the right skills and experience and that organisations can access the Trustees they need.
The campaign explains how Reach’s collaboration with the ICAEW will bring in potentially thousands of financially-skilled volunteers urgently needed by organisations for such roles as treasurer, auditor, grants officer or account manager. Organisations’ finance volunteer roles are being promoted by the ICAEW – including on its Jobs Website – to its 134,000 members.
A new national scheme is being developed by Reach Volunteering to match senior managers of charities and community groups with experienced volunteer mentors who are capable of guiding their professional development. This follows a six-month project in which leaders of a handful of third sector organisations in London were mentored by specially selected Reach volunteers. Feedback from the project was so overwhelmingly positive that Reach has decided to develop it into a national initiative.
Kim Safianoff, who managed the pilot project, says the scheme was Reach’s response to a growing demand for mentoring amongst voluntary organisations.‘Increasingly, people in leadership positions in the voluntary sector were asking us to find volunteers who could work with them in a mentoring and coaching role,’ recalls Kim. ‘At the same time, we were becoming more generally aware that people in key positions in the voluntary sector were facing enormous challenges which they weren’t necessarily fully equipped to deal with.
“We felt that our register of highly skilled volunteers could provide a rich source of mentors”
‘Some people combine a lot of roles and aren’t experienced in all of them. For example, they may lack specific business skills or have limited experience in managing staff. We felt that our register of highly skilled volunteers could provide a rich source of mentors who were willing to work with such individuals to improve their effectiveness, manage organisational development and also help them achieve their professional and personal goals.’
One of the leaders who took part in the pilot study is Stuart Cameron, Project Manager of Tryangle, an organisation in South London that works with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. He says the provision of a volunteer mentor by Reach could not have come at a better time.
‘Tryangle had been set up by the Methodist Church and I was employed by them to run it,’ explains Stuart. At the end of 2008, they decided that Tryangle had to become an independent organisation. That meant I had to set up a charity and a limited company. And suddenly I was thrown in at the deep end, having to deal with things that I had never had to worry about before.
‘I found that I was floundering with things like accounts, payroll and employment policies and felt very lonely, wondering all the time whether I was doing alright or not. At the same time, our work was expanding. I really felt the need to share management and decision making.’
That need was met when, as part of the Reach mentoring pilot, Stuart was paired with Terry Belcher, Financial Director and Co-proprietor of a metal fabrication business in North London.
“It was very re-assuring to have him around and helped me to develop in my role”
‘Terry was just a great resource. He was very knowledgeable and able to help and guide me across a whole range of issues which I’d been struggling with,’ says Stuart. ‘But he didn’t just give me practical advice over things like finance and marketing. Talking stuff through with him helped me to gain perspective, new views and fresh insights. It was very re-assuring to have him around and helped me to develop in my role.’
Stuart met once a month with his mentor, Terry Belcher, who admits that prior to working with Stuart he was a little daunted about taking on a mentoring role in the voluntary sector and concerned about whether he would be able to ‘do the right thing’. But Terry says it was apparent from the start that their relationship would be a mutually productive one.
‘Stuart and I hit it off from the word go and I was able to give him help and advice with some basic issues which he was unfamiliar with,’ recalls Terry. ‘But beyond making practical suggestions about things like accounts, I was able to act as a sounding board for Stuart and to give him the encouragement and support he needed to build up his confidence and get on with things himself.
‘It was a really supportive relationship which developed, and one that was rewarding for me as well,’ adds Terry. ‘It gave me a positive feeling when suggestions I made worked for Stuart and I enjoyed watching his confidence grow in the process. He’s now able to develop a bigger support network and isn’t afraid to ask for help any more.’
Terry’s relationship with Stuart has been so successful and productive that they’re continuing to work together beyond the end of their initial six-month mentoring agreement. Now, a national scheme is being developed to provide more volunteer mentors to the voluntary sector. Reach volunteer, Tim Heald, who was one of the mentors in the pilot project, is co-ordinating the new initiative.
‘We will be using our unique volunteer register to identify potential mentors and encourage more people to consider the role. We’ll be looking to recruit a broad range of people in terms of experience, age, ethnicity, gender and geographical spread,’ says Tim. ‘We’ll employ Reach’s skills at matching volunteers and organisations to respond to direct requests for mentoring support. And we will also be proactive in identifying voluntary organisations for whom mentoring could prove productive.’
Once a pairing has been agreed, both mentors and clients will be briefed and trained on various aspects of the mentoring process. Tim, who is a learning and development specialist with many years experience in the commercial world, believes the new scheme will prove highly rewarding for mentors and clients alike.He explains: ‘Mentors will have the challenge and satisfaction of using their skills in a constructive way to improve the effectiveness of key individuals working in the voluntary sector. At the same time, they’ll be expanding their own learning and experience.
“Mentors can become powerful allies”
‘For their clients, it’s an opportunity to share expertise, skills and ideas with someone who is often coming from a commercial background. With many voluntary organisations under pressure to be more financially focussed, better managed and more accountable, mentors can become powerful allies in their response to these challenges.’
If you want to know more about volunteering as a mentor, or if you are interested in finding a mentor to work with you, contact Kim Safianoff on 020 7582 6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org