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.
In partnership with the FSI during Small Charity Week, we are offering small charities a special one-off telephone Advisory Panel on Friday 17 June, Volunteering Day.
The Advisory Panel is made up of skilled volunteers who are part of our Service Team.
Consultations usually last 15 minutes.
To book a phone consultation on Friday 17 June, please email firstname.lastname@example.org putting ‘Small Charity Week phone advice’ in the subject line.
Please include some information that will help us prepare for your session:
This will allow your advisor to prepare and provide you with the best possible information.
We will then contact you confirming a consultation time. We will try to accommodate your preferences, but it may not be possible due to demand.
You can also call us to book an appointment on 020 7582 6543.
Many of the topics covered by our Advisory Panel can also be found in our Knowledge Centre, our online resource with hints, tips and advice about skilled volunteering.
Please contact us if you have any questions, we look forward to talking to you on Volunteering Day.
Saturday 5th December is the UN’s International Volunteer Day 2015, a day which celebrates and promotes the work of volunteers:
“On this day we celebrate the power of volunteerism. Volunteering fosters creativity, draws strength from our passions and connects us to those who need us most.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The theme this year for International Volunteer Day is ”The world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!” which has particular relevance for us here at Reach. People are interacting a lot more online and this year we introduced our online web service which makes it easier for volunteers to find fulfilling roles which match their skills, passions and requirements.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please go on over and search our roles.
If International Volunteer Day and Giving Tuesday earlier in the week has inspired you to volunteer for the first time, we have a number of resources in our Knowledge Centre which can help you. Read our FAQ’s for volunteers as well as our guide for first time volunteers (PDF, 72KB).
We hope you find them useful!
While today’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become annual events in the last couple of years, its cousin Giving Tuesday is creeping across the Atlantic to UK shores a little more slowly.
Following the US holiday Thanksgiving, the Black Friday day of shopping, followed by Cyber Monday’s online shopping bonanza, gives way to Giving Tuesday, which this year lands on 1 December.
It’s an antidote to the previous two consumer-driven days and a welcome change in emphasis to something more meaningful. It started in America (from New York’s 92Y) in 2012 and is now in 68 countries with #GivingTuesday officially kicking off in the UK in 2014.
Giving Tuesday is intended as a way of giving to a cause you care about, whether that’s local, national or international. It’s a call to action to give something back to our communities.
Charities can harness the feel-good factor of the day and use the day to emphasise the people and causes they work with that need a little help, donations, funds or time.
So what can you give this Giving Tuesday?
Donating to your charity is a fantastic thing to do but what if you are feeling a bit short, give to charity already or just want to do something a bit different?
Giving Tuesday is a great time to consider volunteering. As the UK’s leading skilled volunteering charity, we at Reach (naturally!) recommend giving your skills to a UK charity where they could have more impact. You may have been thinking that you want to get more involved with a cause you love, or you want some development on top of your day job.
Now is the time! Sign up with Reach and donate your skills to a charity.
We have over a thousand skilled volunteer opportunities available – all charities that need a skilled individual to help them achieve a little more.
Your skills could be in governance, HR, IT, copy writing, social media, legal knowledge, engineering, medical. You could be from the private, public, or voluntary sectors. And you could be looking for a short-term role or an ongoing commitment. We’ll have the role for you. All we ask is that you have more than three years experience in your field. Search our volunteer positions now.
Use this Giving Tuesday to make that step and volunteer your skills. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done!
Pro Bono Week is a global celebration that takes place during the last week of October and celebrates the pro bono ethic across all professions that use their talents to make a positive difference in local communities around the world.
As the leading skilled volunteering charity, Reach has a proven track record in encouraging and assisting the employees of major companies to use their highly sought after professional, management and business expertise in support of charitable causes across the UK.
Companies are keen to attract, retain and develop their best people. To do so they must provide a range of solutions to a wide variety of different employees. Staff benefit packages need to incorporate a rounded offering that appeals to workforces and which include clear and relevant community involvement opportunities.
A growing number of enlightened companies are therefore committed to the development of a culture of skilled volunteering. Those that give time out for their employees to volunteer, gain the benefit of highly motivated and committed workforce and recognise that personal development and growth needs cannot always be met by in-house work experience and training.
And that’s where Reach Volunteering fits in. Through its unique online volunteering platform Reach provides the facility for company employees to search for their ideal high impact volunteering role, an opportunity to use their high level skills in a volunteering assignment where their skills will be fully utilised and highly valued. Searches can be tailored to the volunteers’ requirements with regard to specific role types, time availability and geographical location. Reach’s research shows that once employees “stick their toe” in the volunteering water they thoroughly enjoy the experience and more often than not continue to volunteer on a regular basis.
Employees gain a wide range of new skills and can apply their learning and knowledge confidently in different types of environment. Employees who participate are known to enhance their negotiation and leadership skills including persuasion, conflict resolution, mediation and building consensus. Skills-based volunteers are also more likely to report significant job-related skills-gains and personal satisfaction as opposed to traditional volunteers
It’s a win–win situation. Charities obtain significant benefit from accessing the high quality corporate skills they could not otherwise afford in order to develop their causes, in areas such as finance, marketing, planning, I.T. HR and the law. Typical employee placements made by Reach include, developing a new website for a small children’s charity, preparing a strategic plan, establishing business performance measures / reporting for a new programme, mentoring young people setting up in business, designing new marketing materials, carrying out a technical audit, reviewing a financial proposal and, establishing HR policies and procedures for a new organisation. Each ‘match’ achieved has a significant positive impact on the organisation and its ability to develop and progress.
Skilled volunteering works for all parties. With its many benefits for both volunteer and employer, Pro Bono Week is a good time to consider getting involved. And a big thank you to all volunteers generously sharing their skills. It’s never forgotten.
For further information about our employer supported volunteer schemes please contact me, Andrew Phillips on 020 7582 6543 or look at our website www.reachskills.org.uk.
Reach Chair, Andrew Dent (with Andy Haldane above) blogs following the event celebrating the launch of Reach’s online service:
As chair of Reach, I had the pleasure of overseeing last Tuesday’s event launching our online service. The new service signals a step-change for Reach, making our service easily scalable, and much more flexible and appealing for our users.
We were pleased to welcome over 100 friends, partners and supporters to our event held, through their generosity, at IBM, to celebrate the arrival of this project.
We were thrilled to have Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England join us to speak about the value of volunteering. Andy’s speech drove home the scale and impact that volunteering has on our society and how many people are involved.
Here’s some facts he started with:
(Source: “In giving how much do we receive? The social value of volunteering“. Andy Haldane, September 2012)
This shows just how vast the volunteering sector is. Andy pointed out that this impact and value is not recognised in the UK’s GDP so it is important that we disclose and celebrate this ‘hidden jewel’.
As co-founder of Pro Bono Economics, Andy said skilled volunteering is a cause very close to his heart – and it’s very close to ours too. Celebrating the value of skills-based volunteering, and extending its impact, was very much the point of the event, and this underlies everything that Reach does.
We know that charities are facing many challenges including shrinking funding and a rapidly changing environment. Skilled volunteers offer a largely untapped opportunity. Of course, charities need money to operate, but when charities can source expertise for free, that money goes a lot further. Talented volunteers can provide technical expertise, advice and fresh perspectives, supporting and strengthening trustee boards, extending charities’ capacity, or helping them to innovate.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of people who want to use their skills to help. Through our new online service, we can help them to find the right opportunity, where their skills can make a big difference. Charities too will find it easier to secure the volunteers or trustees they need; they can now see the profiles of people offering their expertise, and this means they can approach volunteers directly and encourage them to consider helping them.
For us at Reach, the shift to self-service means that our service is now scalable, and so we can help many more charities and many more volunteers find their match. As Andy kindly said on the night:
“If you harness the skills of an individual it makes them much more likely to volunteer over time. Effective skills-based volunteering, which Reach pioneered 36 years ago, has taken a significant shift forward with the new Reach online service, helping to match volunteers to charitable activity. The service will help Reach to be more scalable which translates into massive benefits for volunteers, charities and ultimately for society and the economy at large. Huge congratulations for everything Reach has achieved.”
Please help us by sharing our new service with your friends and colleagues if they want to volunteer, and with any charities that might need a little extra assistance. Thanks again to IBM for hosting us, to everyone involved in the project, and finally to Andy for joining us.
It was a pleasure to see so many engaged and dedicated people in one room.
Our new online service is almost here: we will shortly be up and running!
You may have seen in previous blogs we have been developing a new website which will make it easier for charities and volunteers to connect. Once launched it will give you the power to search for opportunities and skilled people, and make direct contact with the people who most interest you.
It has been a long (and sometimes hard!) road of scoping, prototyping, building and testing at every stage… but we are excited to say we are now in the final phase of bug fixing and data migration.
It is a complex project with many interdependencies, so there may be more time slip, but we expect to be live by mid-August. We will be running a reduced service throughout July, whilst we migrate data and prepare to go-live. Whilst we continue to forward applications from volunteers for existing opportunities, we stopped taking on any new roles on Monday 29th June and we stopped taking on new volunteers from Friday 3rd July. From the end of July (Thursday 30th July) we will close our current volunteer portal which means for a few days registered volunteers will not be able to apply for any roles.
When we launch in August, we will issue new logins to all our volunteers and charities (which have open roles). You can then log in, check details and start using our new service. You can also register as a new volunteer and and register new volunteering opportunities again.
Our Premium and Matching Plus TrusteeWorks services will continue to run as usual through the transition period.
We need your help
We’re doing everything we can to make this a smooth transition, but there may be some teething problems – so please bear with us. This is the starting point of the evolution of our service and we need our users to help us develop it. Please let us know what works well, what doesn’t and what new features would be useful. We really want to hear your feedback and we will be on hand to answer questions and offer support.
What will our new service look like?
These are some of the key features of the new website:
Better search tools – Our new search tool has more options than our old one. And for the first time, charities can search for volunteers.
Better ways to connect – Volunteers will be able to state what kind of opportunities they are looking for, and create public profiles so that charities can find them. Volunteers can also ask charities questions about their roles before applying.
Charities will be able to review the skills on offer within the Reach community before scoping their roles. They can also then search out people who fit their role, and ask them to consider applying.
Greater coverage – All our roles will be automatically cross-posted on LinkedIn, and to a growing selection of other sites.
Easier ways of managing your applications – Volunteers and charities will be able to manage all their applications and correspondence from one ‘dashboard’. This should make it easier to keep track of things, especially if you are dealing with several roles.
More support – We are developing a new Knowledge centre to offer advice on all things relating to skills based volunteering and board recruitment/ being a trustee. We are also piloting a new one to one advice service to help charities scope out great volunteering roles.
New community agreement – Both charities and volunteers 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.
We’re really looking forward to our new service going live – we believe that it’s going to make a big difference to everyone using our service, and to increasing skills based volunteering in the UK.
We’ll keep you posted with further news and updates. We can’t wait for the launch and to have you join us.
Good news for 2015! Although there has been what seems like an endless succession of books and articles about how to think happy, we now have an impressively researched book about how to behave happy. And how to incorporate these findings into our everyday lives.
The book is Happiness by Design by Professor Paul Dolan. The book’s thesis is that a happy existence requires not only pleasure but purpose and that we should engineer our lives to allocate time and attention to matters that yield both.
A professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, Dolan is a former member of the Cabinet Office’s ‘nudge unit’ and part of the Office of National Statistics well being team; he has also advised the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Among his top recommendations for happiness are:
– Don’t spend on consumer items, spend on experiences. Money never brings people the satisfaction they imagine.
– Surround yourself with people who bring you joy. Social contact makes us happy.
– Volunteer: A structured form of social contact based around being nice makes us happiest of all.
– Become a neophile, a lover of new activities (i.e. yoga)
Of course, we at Reach Volunteering were delighted to see volunteering as one of the top recommendations for happiness. I emailed Professor Dolan and asked what in particular it was about volunteering that makes you happier. He said, “We get the feedback that we are helping people. It gives us both pleasure and purpose in the experience.”
What Professor Dolan said is more than substantiated in the comments we get from Reach volunteers about their experiences with those charities they are helping.
Here are just two responses from our files. Loretta Balfour was placed by Reach as a business mentor with the Prince’s Trust, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people. What does Loretta, a former executive with the Estee Lauder Companies, get out of her work with the Trust?
“It’s been a great experience” Loretta said. “Young people come in who have had difficulties in life, are set on a path or maybe not – and don’t necessarily know how to move forward. When you see how they progress, you know you’ve made a difference.”
“I wanted to put my management accountancy skills to good use,” said Alan Flack when asked why he decided to volunteer. Reach put Alan in touch with a range of charities that urgently needed his particular financial, business development and project management skills. Over a period of years, Alan chose to work with a number of groups including Bristol Mediation, The Princess Royal Trust, Carers Centre Bristol and The Envolve Partnership for Sustainability, playing a key role in bringing about improved operational effectiveness and enhanced business development capability.
Of the benefits of volunteering, Alan says, “I get to meet a wide range of people and to help organisations that can’t afford paid professional help. My involvement with the charities has opened up worlds I didn’t know existed.”
What could we do, we asked Professor Dolan, to get more people volunteering:
“Draw more attention to the pleasure and purpose people experience when volunteering,” he said. “Making people’s volunteering visible is also motivating, celebrating volunteering, making it public, and making it transparent.”
We are pleased to report we are doing just that and are encouraging more volunteering organisations to do the same.
If you want to share your skills with a UK charity, find out about our latest skilled volunteering opportunities at www.reachskills.org.uk. And I hope it makes you happy!
The Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing issued its final report, Decision Time last week.
Within two decades, one in four of us will be over 65 and the report points out that this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem. Huge numbers of over 65s already volunteer and the report calculates that if people hitting 65 keep donating their time, expertise and experience at the same rate as today’s older population, it’ll be worth the equivalent of billions of pounds to the sector over the next 20 years.
However the report found that many parts of the voluntary sector are not currently ready to grasp this prize with some seeing elderly people more in terms of a looming social care crisis than an invaluable resource. Or they view older volunteers as an army of little old ladies, fulfilling basic tasks but not to be engaged at a more detailed, substantive level.
To counter this the report says there is need for more skilled volunteer roles and consultancy-style internships which will be attractive to people looking for new opportunities to use the store of professional knowledge and experience they have built up over long careers.
This is very much where we at Reach come in. For 35 years we have been providing skilled professional volunteers to a wide range of charities of all types and size and in every part of the UK. We look forward to continuing this work for the years ahead helping to meet the challenges and opportunities for the voluntary sector set out in the report.
Janet Thorne, Reach’s CEO contributed to the work of the Commission as a member of one of its Discussion Groups:
“For us, older people are a huge asset: they offer an abundance of valuable expertise to charities. Older people have breadth of experience, highly developed skills and seasoned judgement; crucially this is accompanied by more stable lifestyles and more time to give. Almost 40% of our database is made up of older volunteers – and they are almost twice as likely to take up an assignment as younger people, and to stay in the assignment for longer.
We support the findings of the report – especially that charities will need to create interesting and creative opportunities to volunteer if they want to truly harness the potential of this important group. In our experience, charities vary widely in how effective they are at engaging volunteers. Some are poor at recognising the value that volunteers bring whilst others fully appreciate the contribution of their volunteers, and therefore make the most of their skills. Indeed, over 90% of our volunteers are pleased with their placements.”
The research from the report suggests that new generations of over-65s are unlikely to accept the negative stereotypes of life over 70 (think of some charity posters showing lonely and isolated older people) so readily.
Charities and the voluntary sector should be at the forefront of discussing later life as a success story, retraining and recruiting older workers. Decision Time also identifies some important changes from outside the voluntary sector that could help. The Treasury could think about helping individual donors give away their cash as annuity pots are drawn down, for example, and the cabinet office could consider whether reference to “need because of age” in the Charities Act is helpful.
But the voluntary sector must lead the way. There is work to be done.
We are delighted to be key partners for LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. This UK roll out of their service, which enables charities to recruit volunteers from their vast professional network, was launched yesterday evening, and I was very honoured to be asked to speak.
‘Professional’ volunteering is coming of age…
For the past 35 years, we’ve have been connecting charities with people willing to volunteer their skills. In the last couple of years we’ve noticed an upsurge in interest from people wanting volunteering with ‘higher impact’- seeking to use their professional expertise to make a difference.
More charities too, are beginning to consider how they might better use this kind of pro-bono resource, and how to recruit trustees in a more open, purposeful way. Our TrusteeWorks service experienced a 60% jump in both demand and successful placements last year alone.
That said, we know that we are only scratching the surface. Thousands of charities have board vacancies, and how many more are struggling to deliver or innovate for want of sufficient resource?
The potential is huge
The untapped opportunities are huge, and this is what is so exciting about LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace. With over 17 million members in the UK, LinkedIn can provide massive exposure for volunteering. People are always more likely to respond to an opportunity that fits them, than to a generic call for volunteers. For example, a graphic designer for an arts festival in aid of homeless people…. LinkedIn serves up volunteer positions like this to match member’s skills, enticing a whole range of people who might never have considered volunteering before. It’s what Alison Dorsey calls, ‘the puppy in the window’ effect.
Our experience of the Volunteer Marketplace
We have been piloting LinkedIn’s job posting and search tools to recruit volunteers since 2013, and have sourced over 500 applicants this way. Numbers aren’t the whole story though: by using the search tools our TrusteeWorks team have been able to find ideal candidates with very specific skills and expertise for board positions.
Of course, the Volunteer Marketplace is not panacea. It is really a tool – and how well it works for you depends on how effectively you use it. To recruit well, charities still need to think through what they really need, how to craft this into a good volunteer role, what skills and experience they are looking for, and how to create postings that will attract the people with these attributes. And most people did not join LinkedIn to volunteer, so they may need coaching through how charities differ, or the rights and responsibilities of volunteering. People who are job hunting with some urgency sometimes ignore the ‘volunteer’ tag, too.
Why our collaboration with LinkedIn is great!
LinkedIn themselves appreciate this broader picture, which is why they are so great to collaborate with. I confess that when I first learnt about their volunteer marketplace I was nervous; given LinkedIn’s size they could have blown us out of the water without even noticing. Happily, they absolutely get the value that brokers like Reach bring to the equation, and have made us, along with Do-it, key partners.
This means that charities can access the volunteer marketplace free of charge when they register through us. At the moment we can only post manually so we post just a selection (if you register a role with us and want us to include your opportunity in that selection, just ask.) When we launch our new platform this spring we will be able to cross-post all opportunities, giving great exposure to every volunteer role.
There is an abundance of great people out there, willing to donate their expertise. They just need connecting up with the right opportunity, in the right way; a combination of lots of promotion and well-honed volunteer recruitment processes. Through our partnership with LinkedIn we can offer both!