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
We will soon be launching a ‘match.com’ for skilled volunteering – a new web-based service which will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the UK. It is due to launch in summer 2015. Here’s an update on the project.
The new service will be an online hub connecting charities with talented professionals who want to donate their skills. The service will offer charities access to a pool of motivated skilled volunteers, and give them more effective ways of finding and recruiting the right person. Volunteers will find lots of help to discover the right opportunity, as well as exciting new ways to offer their talents.
We are basing the design of the new service on our experience of brokering skilled volunteering, specially commissioned research and our user testing.
We won a Cabinet Office-funded Nesta Innovation in Giving Fund award, and, together with a grant from the Dulverton Trust, we have secured sufficient funds to contract a digital agency to build the site.
Drawing on the skills of our (internal) volunteers and staff, and with additional pro bono expertise where needed (including IBM), we have just passed the prototype stage and are now moving into the final build phase.
Between now and go-live (and, no doubt, several weeks past that date!), we will be enlisting the help of you, the volunteers and charities who use our services, to help iron out any glitches and ensure the platform meets the needs of all our users throughout the UK.
We’d like to thank everyone who has shared their time and talents to help us reach this point in this really exciting project.
Your knowledge centre
When you log on to our new platform in the autumn, one of the most useful changes, for charities and volunteers alike, will be our new knowledge centre. In this wide-ranging section of the website, you’ll find detailed information on all aspects of recruiting and becoming a volunteer or trustee and how Reach will support you in that process. Just some of the topics include legal issues, volunteer interview questions, board roles and responsibilities, choosing the right role or volunteer and success stories. With your help, it will build into the comprehensive tool kit for the skilled volunteering community.
Your own personal dashboard
Volunteers and charities will be able to manage all their applications and correspondence from one ‘dashboard’. You’ll be able to receive advice and help throughout the entire process, for example, on identifying your transferable skills, how to gracefully reject a role or becoming a trustee (if you’re a volunteer). If you’re a charity, you’ll be able to manage all your roles and applications from one dashboard, referencing previous role descriptions, sharing recruitment tasks with colleagues and being reminded to respond to any outstanding applications.
Searching for what you need
We’ve got a great new search tool which is much more efficient and flexible than our old one. If you’re a charity, you’ll be able to actively search for volunteers so you can see the kind of skills on offer before scoping out your role. As a volunteer, you’ll be able to be as precise or broad as you like when searching for the perfect role.
Talking to each other
Volunteers can ask direct questions of charities, to clarify what a charity is looking for or explore if there is some flexibility in how it is done. In turn, charities can contact volunteers to ask if they are interested in a role.
More roles and volunteers = more choice
For volunteers, with the increased scale that the new platform brings, there will be more opportunities to choose from as well as a broader range of projects and roles. We hope it will draw in people who could not volunteer easily before as well as charities who hadn’t previously considered recruiting for a skilled volunteering role.
Rest assured that we will carry on vetting and advising charity registrations as usual to make sure that only well-defined, skilled opportunities are listed on the new platform. The platform will increase the number and quality of volunteers available through Reach so there will literally be more to choose from.
If you’re a charity, you’ll have a higher chance of finding a volunteer who is local (or prepared to work virtually), with the right skills and sufficient time, who cares about your cause.
Your charity will be able to secure a wider range of donated expertise. As well as regular ongoing roles and trustees, you’ll be able to find volunteers for short-term projects or receive advice on recruitment issues through the new volunteer advisory panel.
Great one-to-one advice
Our new Reach advisors’ panel will give one-off advice to charities about their recruitment and skills gaps and to volunteers about finding the right role. They’re experts on all things skilled volunteering.
New community agreement
Both charities and volunteers will agree how all users will behave on the website. They will sign up to our new community agreement. This will focus on areas which often pose problems such as obligations and rights, ‘volunteers’ looking for remuneration and poor communication.
Over the coming weeks, we will be contacting every volunteer and charity on our database to ask your help in helping us create something that will benefit every charity and skilled volunteer in the country. At this point, there are some simple things to update as we move towards the new website. The platform is still in development but we hope that with your help, it will deliver really crucial expertise to charities like yours, when you need it rather than when you can afford it.
Because the site is based on self-service and proactive behaviour, we believe it will be possible to achieve a much greater transfer of talent to the sector than has ever been possible before.
To capture the spirit of Volunteers’ Week Reach has published an Annual Report celebrating the achievements of skilled volunteers over the last year.
Reach specialises in making high impact volunteering happen by connecting charities of all sizes with skilled people.
This new Annual Review celebrates the successes of charities, volunteers and Reach alike, all in a compact and succinct format.
Janet Thorne, Chief Executive of Reach, said: ‘We felt it was really important to publish this report during Volunteers’ Week, as everything Reach does is about the value and impact that volunteers have.
‘The country is currently celebrating the tens of thousands of people up and down the country who are making a difference to their communities with their talent and time. We hope we can inspire even more to join them over the next year.’
Highlights for Reach over the last year include
Looking ahead, the report also talks about how Reach is transforming its services over the coming years to help even more charities and skilled people come together to make amazing things happen.
You can download the report, which is optimised for online viewing, from our publications library now.
Having had great success in our work with students’ unions over the last few years, the TrusteeWorks team is excited to be moving forward with NUS in a more formal capacity as preferred supplier.
We are confident that this relationship will give us the opportunity to help many more students’ unions source fantastic external trustees.
Reach Volunteering has entered 2014 on a strong note! We have secured long-term funding from institutions like GlaxoSmithKline and City Bridge Trust and plan to introduce iReach, our new web-based platform. This will dramatically increase the volume, range and quality of skilled volunteering across the U.K.
iReach will come into service this summer, building an online community where charities and skilled volunteers meet, interact, and find their ideal match. It will create an increased number of matches and significantly reduce Reach’s transaction costs.
Reach had an excellent 2013 helping to place 20% more skilled volunteers than in the previous year, representing an estimated value of £8mn worth of skills transferred into the sector.
A Reach highlight was the decision to make our Trusteeworks Matching Service free from 1 November for charities with an annual turnover of less than £1mn. This led to a 150% increase in demand for the service.
There was a huge surge in volunteer registrations in the second half of the year, with an average of 167 new volunteers joining the Reach register every month, double the amount for the same period last year!
Charities continually need to fill vacancies in key roles, particularly as trustees. Reach, as the U.K’s leading skilled volunteering charity has been providing this invaluable service for more than 30 years. Our placement advisors are widely respected for their expertise and enthusiasm in finding the right match between skilled volunteer and charity.
Posted in News Tagged with: Big Society, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Fundraising, Good practice in volunteering, Governance, Improving performance, News, Reach volunteering, Skilled volunteering, Third Sector, TrusteeWorks
We were very pleased to be invited to participate in the Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving held yesterday, chaired by the Rt Hon Mr David Blunkett MP, which explored how to increase the giving of time and money across all generations, with a particular focus on how older people can ‘give the gift of giving’ to younger generations.
This is a subject close to our hearts: older people are a crucial asset for us.
Not only do they have a lifetime of skills and experience to give, but they have more time and are less likely to leave due to change in circumstances. In fact, of all the people who register with Reach, the over 60s are almost twice as likely to actually take on a role with a charity. And if they are pouring their time and talents into volunteering for a cause they care about, they are bound to be talking about this with family members. What better way to sell giving across the generational divide?
I was very encouraged that volunteering, and in particular, skills-based volunteering, was given some real air time. And, for once, the debate did not just centre on the supply side (“How do we get more people to volunteer?”).
There was recognition that charities must be more creative in their ‘ask’ and need support and encouragement to invest more time and thought in how to engage with volunteers more effectively.
There was general agreement that volunteering must shake off its ‘worthy’ image by adopting what Dr Suzanne Richards, in the presentation of her research, termed a ‘social marketing’ approach – all music to our ears! I have never been to a parliamentary inquiry before so was unsure what I was in for.
I enjoyed the unexpected frankness (the acknowledgement that some charities risk being run in the interests of their volunteers rather than their beneficiaries) and the animated discussion about living legacies. Who would have thought they would be so inflammatory?
Here’s Third Sector’s take on my comments. I look forward to seeing the final write-up and recommendations.
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.
Posted in News Tagged with: Charity boards, Charity Governance, Charity Trustee, Corporate volunteering, Good practice in governance, Good practice in volunteering, Governance, Measuring impact, Reach in the news, Reach volunteering, Recession, Skilled volunteering, Trustee, Trustee Recruitment, Trustees' Week, TrusteeWorks, Volunteer expertise
Free flowing wine, delicious snacks, gossip and banter. Last night we had a great party for over 50 of our volunteers, past and present.
How, in these straitened times, you might be wondering , could we justify such largesse?
Well, as well as marking the occasion of kicking-off our thirty-fifth year helping the charity sector, we were left a generous legacy specifically for the purposes of holding a party for our volunteers. How often, in the charity sector, are you effectively ordered to spend money on having a good time? Our generous donor was a long-standing friend of Reach, who therefore knew that volunteers are absolutely central to us, not only to what we do, but how we do it.
Volunteers outnumber staff by over four to one here, and do everything from delivering service to maintaining our IT. We couldn’t survive a day without them, and nor would we want to. Not only do they bring expertise and experience far beyond our means but they are such a lovely bunch that working with them is a joy.
Volunteers volunteer for a range of reasons, but generosity of spirit, a passion for the work and being independent minded are common traits. Think about it – who wouldn’t want a team with those characteristics? Charities who don’t engage with volunteers are missing a trick.
As people wended their way home (helped by brandy courtesy of a travel souvenir from a volunteer’s trip to Georgia) the main comment was ‘such a lovely bunch of people’. This was the first party we’ve held for while, but we are now keen to repeat it as soon as possible. Donations welcomed!
Iain Herbertson, who was a Reach Trustee for several years until he left the Board earlier this year, has sadly died.
He contributed much time and energy to Reach and showed insight and imagination to finding better ways of doing things.
While he’d been ill for a number of years this in no way diminished his commitment and verve as a Trustee.
During his time at Reach, he helped with the successful implementation of TrusteeWorks and with ensuring that Reach developed in a positive forward-looking way to continue to deliver its unique and vital role for professional volunteering.
Before joining Reach, Iain had a long and successful career in the employment services industry mostly with the major international company Manpower. His senior positions included Managing Director of Manpower UK and President of Manpower’s Asia and Pacific operations.
It’s Volunteers’ Week in the UK and, in the spirit of our previous post about the best way to keep volunteers happy, we at Reach have been asking the volunteer staff across our own organisation exactly how it feels to be thanked for their efforts- from the kinds of “thank you” they find the most truly moving, to the kinds they sort of don’t…
“The main thing about a thank you is that it must be sincere, genuine,” said Anoop, Reach’s resident social media expert. “There is no value in being thanked in a routine and mechanical manner, a letter that is computer generated or a bulk email that has gone out to ten thousand other people… In some cases saying the actual words, ‘thank you’ isn’t necessary if the attitude and reaction to a person’s contribution are polite and respectful.” He added: “I would rather someone always treated me as a valued equal without saying thanks, than if someone continually acted discourteously and thought a few words once a year demonstrated gratitude.”
Bilwa, a volunteer in Reach’s HR department, pointed to a particular gift given to her by a charity she volunteered with- a diary- in appreciation for her efforts. “I really feel good,” she said, of being thanked. “It makes me feel belonged, a part of… [they] don’t just look at you as a person available for free, they do look at you as, you know, a person.” Little things like giving away a tangible gift can be extremely effective when it’s a gift specifically picked out to fit the volunteer’s personality- something that can make them feel acknowledged on an individual level.
Brian Mills has been volunteering at Reach since 1996- so something about it certainly appeals to him! But Brian was quick to note that, while it is always nice to be thanked, “there’s a distinction between routine thanks and regular thanks.” Brian added that, while it was always “nice to have,” thanks, there was a palpable difference between genuine praise meant to prop a volunteer’s spirits, and more “ritual,” thanks, usually produced off the cuff by a boss “breez[ing] into the office.”
Brian suggested that the most genuine, effective thanks were the most obviously distinguishable from more token gestures- thanks bestowed “for a particular thing… [so]you know they’re grateful that you did it.” The more precise the thank you, the more resonant its results- because it lets the volunteer know they’re being appreciated for something they’ve done with their specific skillset, as opposed to just being thanked for turning up.
As we may have previously mentioned, every volunteer is different, and that individuality is an important asset to their service. So, wherever possible, it’s important to remind volunteers that they’re appreciated above all as individuals. In that spirit, as Volunteer Appreciation Week draws to a close, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the vital contributors who make up Reach’s staff- one at a time. Here is a list of all the volunteers who make our offices go round, with a very special thanks for each and every one (just mouse over the names to see).
And to all the other skilled volunteers who’ve come through Reach – and, really, everyone else in the world who has ever given their time up for charitable good, please forgive us for being a little generalist just this once- we don’t know all your names. But be assured, as Volunteers’ Week draws to a close, we really do sincerely mean it when we say…