We’re excited by the results of 2016, our first full year of operating our new online service.
Reach Volunteering supported over 930 placements last year, an increase of over 30 per cent on 2014, the last full year of our ‘offline’ service. And we estimate the total value of the skills transferred to the sector by our volunteers last year to be £13m.
Want to know more? Our latest annual review has all the detail.
Susana Morgado Gomez shares her experience of how being a trustee benefits both volunteer and charity.
‘Every year Mind In Camden provides a range of services to some 1,000 people with serious mental health needs and the staff who work with them, in partnership with national and local organisations, and the NHS.
‘I work in the banking sector and wanted to use my skills to make a contribution to a cause I believe in, as well as increase my Board exposure in a different sector. Mind In Camden were looking for a new trustee who, along with financial acumen, would bring strategic skills. They really wanted someone that shared the charity’s values, especially around the core principle of seeing mental health as a continuum on which we are all at different points, at different times in our lives. This means there is no ‘us’ (= well) and ‘them’ ( = ill).
‘In joining Mind In Camden as a trustee, I feel I am making a contribution to an organisation where people are very passionate about their work, but are working under very different circumstances and resources to my day job.
This is a highly complementary experience to the commercial and financial background that I have.
‘Being a trustee is a strategic role, it is not a day to day role, and it’s important to understand the difference. Trustees are ultimately accountable to the public and regulators – so it is important that the fit is right between the charity, the trustee and the chief executive.
‘From a practical perspective a trustee is expected to attend and actively contribute to effective Board meetings and decision making, in his or her area of core competence. A considerable part of the trustee role is about self-education in the sector and the charity to which he or she belongs. This is paramount to help you support and challenge the management team, as necessary. The support angle is very important to maintaining the motivation of the team, but it is equally important to challenge, helping them recognise any blind spots and mitigate risk, or not miss opportunities.
Additionally, a Trustee is a representative of the Charity and should not only be available to represent the charity as required, but also act as an Ambassador for the organisation.
‘In this particular experience I enjoy the different kind of environment and diverse background of the Board – the diversity contributes to you growing as an individual and a professional. In joining a team like the Board of a charity, you have to adapt to contribute – and use your transferable skills.
‘Being a trustee is an extremely personal experience that requires passion and energy. It is very rewarding and very energising.’
For more information on Mind services visit Mind In Camden.
To find a trustee or a trustee role, visit Reach Volunteering.
On International Volunteer Day, we share our gratitude with all our volunteers, and Reach volunteer Jeanne Davis tells why she volunteers and what a difference it makes on both sides.
Volunteering in my later life is far more fulfilling than I had ever thought. Recently retired from a long career in journalism and widowed, I needed to find something to do. I tried freelance journalism. It was not good. Assignments were few and far between and, working alone in my flat, I missed the camaraderie of a busy office.
Then a friend told me that the charity Reach Volunteering was looking for a communications volunteer at their office in London.
How have I used my skills volunteering at Reach? And benefited too? I write up the stories of how a Reach volunteer helped a charity succeed. These experiences help us particularly when we are looking for funding to show the impact that Reach has made. I help edit the annual review.
I have learned to spread the word about Reach through the new communication channels of social media, contributing to blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
And the camaraderie. Reach has a small staff of six and a group of volunteers who like me are donating their professional experience. We take time for lunch and interesting conversation, often from diverse points of view. I have made new friends, meeting to go to the cinema and exhibitions.
Best of all, by helping to make Reach sustainable, I have in my small way, contributed to the success of many other charities. This year, we will place nearly 900 volunteers making a difference in over 600 causes as diverse as the environment, mental health and poverty relief.
I have been with Reach for 13 years and look forward to many more helping in whatever way I can.
“Skills-based volunteering is an essential ingredient of a well-functioning third sector and a well-functioning economy. As the leading skills-based volunteering charity in the UK, Reach Volunteering does tremendous work in helping both charities, volunteers and societies fulfil their potential. I am proud to be an Ambassador for their important work.”
We are delighted to share with you some highlights from our annual review 2015/16. It was a busy and exciting time here at Reach as our operations went from a manually brokered service to a self-service and peer to peer one.
Last year we:
• recorded 506 volunteer placements
• supported 306 charities
• made 2,300 introductions between charities and volunteers.
We estimate that the total value of the skills transferred to the sector by our volunteers is £7.3m.
So, what next? Our focus is firmly on the not-for-profits and volunteers who use our service.
We will keep seeking feedback to improve our service and help our users to achieve their end goals, both increasing capacity and strengthening the governance of organisations, and helping volunteers find professionally rewarding ways to make a difference.
Read more about our achievements and our plans for the year ahead in our full annual review 2015/16.
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.
At the end of a busy year, it’s always good to take stock of what you have done; think about any particular achievements, what’s gone well, what were your highlights and generally take a moment to think about the year.
2014 in particular seems to have flown by (I say this every year but this one really has!) particularly as I had the pleasure of joining Reach in September so for me it’s been a whirlwind few months.
Reach has had another busy year, continuing to help hundreds of charities find both trustee roles and skilled volunteer roles, vital positions where skilled people can make such a difference to a charity.
There have been a few achievements which have really struck me:
As we move into 2015, we look forward to a year where we will develop the technology we use in matching charities with skilled volunteers, support third sector governance, and enable the capacity of the voluntary sector. We hope 2015 will build upon this year and be even more successful.
In terms of our service over the Christmas period, the Reach office will be closed from Friday 19th December (today is our last day) and we will reopen again on Monday 5th January.
You can continue to use the Reach website to search for roles and make requests. We will respond to any queries as soon as possible when we return in January.
In the meantime enjoy the festive season, have a wonderful break with friends and family and see you in the New Year!
When Nick Crace set Reach up in 1979, he was driven by one simple, but brilliant idea: get retired people with useful professional skills to volunteer for charities. Simple, because it seems obvious in the way that good ideas do, and brilliant because it tackles two challenges at once: providing people suffering from a loss of structure and purpose with something useful to do, and providing expertise to charities that they could otherwise not afford.
35 years later Reach is remarkably unchanged: we provide a free service, connecting people willing to volunteer their skills with the charities which need them. And it is an idea that seems to have come of age – all manner of organisations and ‘experts’ are now promoting the importance ‘high impact’ volunteering, of harnessing volunteers’ skills and creating interesting opportunities.
Of course, there are differences. Then, the focus was largely on finding things for ‘retired executives’ to do. Now our driver is the skills that charities need, a demand-led approach if you like. And whist retired people remain a valuable source of volunteers, half of our register is now younger people, motivated by a mixture of things such as professional development, interesting projects, or causes close to their hearts.
Our 35th birthday has prompted us to delve into our archives, where we found numerous press clippings and radio interviews. It turns out, our founder was phenomenally good at PR! From the perspective of today, some of it sounds wonderfully dated. Articles quote wives begging Reach to take their newly retired husbands off their hands…
‘I can’t stand him being home all the time’ said a Mrs U of Halifax, wisely electing to be identified no further.
It all brings to mind the bowler-hatted father in Mary Poppins. And yet, strip away the dated language and the themes are remarkably similar:
So what has changed?
The biggest change since 1979 emerges at the end of an early radio interview, where listeners are encouraged to get in touch – by writing to a postal address. That seems almost implausible now. And as we embark on our new journey, transforming our service to a digital one I wonder how the Reach of today will look in 35 years time.
We are thrilled to be celebrating Reach’s 35th birthday next week. For 35 years we have been placing skilled volunteers into the organisations who need them and to mark this anniversary, we have been searching the archives and examining our 35-year journey. An example of that journey is our logo evolution above.
To give you a bit of history, Reach was founded by Nicholas Crace in 1979 to utilise “the growing pool of unused executive talent at a time when voluntary organisations were crying out for managerial skills”. This quote was taken from the first Annual Report in 1979/1980 and our remit and core values have not changed much since then – we help third sector organisations by unlocking the skills of passionate and committed people. Often the volunteers registered with us are placed into smaller charities where their expertise make the most difference and their impact can be enormous:
‘Thank you for the diversity and calibre of the candidates that Reach offered. These people really do make a significant difference to our charity.’
The Hunger Project UK
Over the coming weeks, we will be remembering some of our achievements and talking about some of the people we have worked with over our 35 year history. You will hear from Janet Thorne, Reach’s CEO, and Nicholas Crace who created Reach all the way back in 1979.
Stay in touch with the latest news by reading this blog and keep up to date on social media:
Visit our website at www.reachskills.org.uk where you can find out about our work, register as a skilled volunteer or if you run an organisation, discover how you could benefit from the skills of one of the 2000 volunteers on our database.
We look forward to working with you over the next (hopefully!) 35 years and beyond.
We recently said farewell to Madeleine Boomgaarden, our communications and marketing manager, and welcomed Sarah Tucker, to this vital post. After three years of impressive contributions to the success of Reach, Madeleine is taking a break from the world of work and setting off on a South American journey with her family.
I asked Janet Thorne, CEO of Reach, about Madeleine’s talents and skills that contributed so significantly to the numbers of volunteers and charities that we can help.
“Madeline jump-started our social media,” she said, “which is such a vital, new and growing tool enabling you to reach your audience. She also wrote the most engaging copy about volunteering. She took a story telling approach which was very good at conveying why skilled volunteering is of such invaluable benefit to both charities and volunteers.
“She brought a lot of new volunteers to us by posting volunteer opportunities through a number of new channels, like jobs boards. She linked us to national campaigns like Volunteers Week and Trustees Week.
“We shall miss her warm presence around the office and look forward to having Sarah lead our marketing and communications campaigns.”
I asked Sarah, formerly Fellowship Communications Manager at the RSA, what attracted her to the role at Reach. “I think initially it was the opportunity to mobilise the expertise of people who want to give their time to help the organisations that help local communities,” she said.
“I was staggered to learn that Reach has been going since 1979 and that it helps so many organisations (around 600) each year. I wanted to contribute to trying to increase the number of charities we work with so they can benefit from the services of Reach and increase their impact.
“I am also passionate about volunteering as not only does it open doors to new opportunities but it is a powerful way to further your own personal development. I particularly like that Reach practices what they preach and I look forward to working with our in-house team of marketing volunteers.
“Though Madeleine’s will be large shoes to fill, I am really excited about this opportunity to help Reach be the leading U.K. wide skilled volunteering charity.”
As someone who has been volunteering at Reach for the past nine years (and as this is my first blog) I want to take the opportunity to say why I got involved. With a background in journalism and marketing, and retired, I find it very satisfying to continue to use my skills for a cause I believe in.
It is lots of fun, too, working with the Reach team. I look forward to telling you more about the vital work that Reach does through my forthcoming blogs.
Volunteer Publicity Officer