Resource leaflets
October 29th, 2014 by Jeanne Davis

You may be aware that we celebrated our 35th birthday recently and I have been digging into the archive to see what past resources we have created for volunteers. We have produced a number of publications since we launched in 1979. You can see one of our many publications above (from our non-digital days!)

Searching through these, I realised, as well as the number of resources we’ve produced over the years, that there are a number of tangible things you can do to make the most of any volunteering opportunity. I wanted to highlight some of these points so here’s a whistle-stop tour of some of the DOs and DON’Ts of skilled volunteering.

DO:

  • Find out about the organisation. You need to be enthusiastic about its aims and activities.
  • Do go there. Do sense the atmosphere. Do keep an open mind.
  • Be selective about the role and the working environment. Personal satisfaction is even more important in a voluntary appointment than it is in a paid one.
  • Be flexible. Be ready to do things yourself where you may be used to having other people do them for you.
  • Find ways to use your management skills. Often it is the professionals trained mind and ability to use resources effectively that are likely to be needed, rather than a particular expertise.
  • Be prepared for a new work style and attitudes. It will probably be more informal and less structured than you are used to.
  • Agree a trial period. Fair to both parties, it gives the opportunity to withdraw gracefully if the appointment is not working out.
  • Sort out the practical details – things like expenses, travel, hours and insurance.
  • Aim to keep on learning. Take advantage of every opportunity to increase your own knowledge. You may well have to take the initiative in acquiring background information essential to the performance of your role.
  • Consider home-based opportunities, where offered. Many will involve contact with colleagues too.
  • ENJOY YOURSELF. Voluntary work is not only worthwhile but it should be satisfying and fun.

DON’T:

  • Over commit yourself – very easy in the first flush of enthusiasm. Decide how much time you can offer and stick to it. The organisation must be able to rely on its Reach volunteers.
  • Expect the same facilities. Most organisations exist on very tight budgets and have to keep their costs as low as possible. You will be unlikely to have back-up staff and equipment and office accommodation may be cramped.
  • Try to move too quickly or assume too much responsibility at the very beginning. Even though you may see considerable scope for improvement in the way things are done, premature attempts to implement your own methods may not work.

More than ever before, charities are desperate for skilled volunteers. In these tough economic times, their budgets have been cut and at the same time they have been asked to provide additional services to help those in need. Skilled volunteers can fill the gap here.

And why do skilled volunteers want to get involved? Our volunteers register with us for many reasons; some are retired or on career breaks, others are working full or part time. Some volunteer to build their CV and career, others to give back to their communities. We have skilled volunteers from across the UK, many working to help in their own communities. Volunteering can be hugely rewarding and your skills will mean that you can make a real difference to an organisation.

If you have experience in professional skills such as management, IT, marketing, accountancy, project management, HR, business or mentoring and want to apply your expertise to a good cause, visit the Reach website.

Jeanne Davis
Volunteer Publicity Officer

A retired writer, Jeanne is Reach’s Volunteer Publicity Officer. You can read more about Jeanne in her series on the Laterlife website.

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Older People's Day
October 1st, 2014 by Alvin Cerely

Today marks Older People’s Day, a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy. I have volunteered for Reach for three years, a unique charity specialising in the recruitment of skilled volunteers and their placements into suitable roles in charities throughout the UK. We place skilled volunteers of all ages (assuming they have at least three years of professional experience) though at Reach, we know the value of the Baby Boomers and older volunteers first-hand.

Working and socialising together
There are over 30 volunteers that work for Reach and like me, most of them are retired although there are enough younger people in the office, including 7 staff, to make a dynamic mix. This is one reason I enjoy volunteering with Reach; old and young get on with each other and help each other to achieve a common purpose. Our objectives are to achieve the annual targets of registering skilled volunteers and successfully placing them with charities throughout the UK. To date we are on track to achieve the targets for 2014 – our weekly internal newsletter produced by my colleague Robin (one of the retiree volunteers in the marketing team) keeps us up-to-date with the latest numbers.

Skills and experience
Older volunteers in Reach use the skills they have built up in their careers whether it is in management, HR, IT, marketing, law or a number of other areas which are valuable in the day- to -day tasks of communicating with potential trustees and volunteers as well as the charities. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that Reach would not be where it is today were it not for older volunteers.

I was interested to learn more about the ages of the skilled volunteers that we place into charities and we ran a report from our data base. It turned out that nearly half of the skilled volunteers Reach placed in the 12 months ending July 2014 were over 54 years of age and over 20% of all volunteers are over 65 years old.

Loyal and committed to the cause
If the volunteers in Reach are anything to go by, then loyalty is easily demonstrated in older volunteers. Nearly all the retired volunteers in Reach have been engaged longer than I have (our colleague James in the matching team has been here the longest; he started in 1997, 17 years ago!) and in the three years I’ve been here no-one has left!

What’s next for Reach?
As well as celebrating Reach’s 35th birthday at the moment (read more about what we have planned) we are also in the process of changing our web-based service which we expect will increase the volume of skilled volunteers across the UK. Read more about this development of our online hub. This is an exciting development in Reach’s history which we hope will attract and engage old and young volunteers alike, using their skills for good causes.

I look forward to seeing you on there!

Alvin Cerely
Volunteer Marketing Assistant
Reach

 

Alvin volunteers within Reach’s marketing and communications team.

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