Reach is excited to announce a new partnership with Community Impact Bucks (CIB). Through this partnership skilled volunteering vacancies in Buckinghamshire will be streamed live on Community Impact Bucks’ dedicated volunteering website. This will make roles easier to find and more prominent.
As the accredited Volunteer Centre for Buckinghamshire, Community Impact Bucks promotes volunteering, and also helps and advises organisations to find the volunteers they need.
Posting vacancies for trustees and skilled volunteers will give local charities and non-profit organisations access to the thousands of skilled volunteers registered with Reach. CIB will also continue to promote Reach to prospective volunteers in Buckinghamshire.
Nick Phillips, CIB chief executive, says: ‘We are really excited about our new partnership with Reach. They have over 35 years of experience of making worthwhile connections between charities and experienced volunteers. I know this will be of real benefit to our local organisations.’
Janet Thorne, Reach chief executive officer, adds: ‘Our volunteers can make a real difference to a charity or non-profit group. They have several years of experience and a huge range of expertise. They are interested in using it to have a positive impact in communities and society. I’m thrilled that charities and organisations in Buckinghamshire will benefit from our new partnership.’
The trustee and skills-based vacancy streaming will be going live this spring. In the meantime, Buckinghamshire organisations are encouraged to make use of Reach and to post all appropriate vacancies on the Reach website.
“As a passionate believer in the worth of volunteering, my involvement with Reach for over 20 years has given me a particular insight to its vital role in both local community organisations and the charitable sector.
Reach has continuously provided expertise and skill, at no charge, to organisations that desperately need these but could in no way afford them.
At the same time Reach provides the means for individuals to consider becoming involved as volunteers and then connecting them to one or more organisations that truly value their voluntary contribution. A virtuous circle.”
“I have undertaken several reports on the voluntary sector for the Government – most notably a statutory Review of the Charities Act 2006. This work has shown me the tremendous contribution made by the sector to the life of the country.
But it has also shown me that voluntary groups, like all of us, can always do better. The trustees and volunteers who run them may lack the necessary range of experience, skills and up to date knowledge.
Further that too many donors see their relationship with a voluntary group in purely economic terms. Of course these groups need money but they also need to learn how to deploy these funds to maximum effect.
This is where Reach can help. It provides access to a range of individuals of varied ages, skills and experience who are prepared to ‘get their hands dirty’ to help voluntary groups achieve their goals.”
“Reach Volunteering services provide an excellent platform for volunteers and charitable organisations to find a match of skills and opportunities, as I know from my personal experience using them when I started to seek volunteer roles in the charity arena.
They cover a broad spectrum of disciplines and types of charities, as well as providing helpful support both to the third sector and to those of us wishing to be a part of it.”
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.
The Reach TrusteeWorks team had an eventful start to the year. We met with governance experts, trustees, aspiring trustees and charity organisations at two interactive and inspiring events, giving us the opportunity to create awareness on trusteeship, and encourage people to get involved at board level.
We started on the 13th January with the Cabinet Office who invited us to be a part of a small market place event to encourage their staff who have a wide array of skills and expertise to become trustees. The event took place at 1 Horse Guards Road and was organised by Thomas Leftwich, Head of Sector Sustainability projects. We helped line up charities that would benefit from the skills and expertise and the event was well represented by Mentor UK, Population Matters, Probono Consulting, Interclimate Connected Network, Education Media Centre and Getting on Board. Reach showcased its services and opportunities, especially its new digital presence which kick-started focussed discussions on trusteeship, opportunities, our services and resulted in a few on-the-spot registrations.
The charities that participated met with very interesting and potentially useful connections and took advantage of the opportunity to recruit new trustees and skilled volunteers from the highly skilled workforce of the Cabinet Office.
Our participation in the Guardian’s Q&A event in 2014 led to an invitation from Community Impact Bucks to participate in their 2016 Trustee Forum on the 18th January. It was called ‘Future-Proofing’ and attracts over 100 trustees and management committee members every year.
The event is essentially a half day conference with a series of workshops, trustee networking opportunities, street displays targeting volunteers from the business sector. Katharine Woods, Chair, Community Impact Bucks kick-started the conference with an introduction and a warm welcome followed by a keynote presentation by Clore Social Fellow, Emily Geoghiou on ‘Strategic planning for trustees’. The workshops began after a quick round of introductions from the facilitators. Here’s a quick recap on the workshops that were delivered by the facilitators:
We delivered a 90 minute interactive workshop and shared best-practice recruitment tips and engaged the delegates with interactive case studies focussing on emerging issues concerning board-level recruitment. The delegates present were primarily trustees and were looking to recruit new board members as well as to share their insights and solutions to recruiting trustees, all of which made our problem-solving activities a unique and useful experience.
As Trustee recruiters, we too had an insight into recruitment practices and strategies from a charity’s perspective and it helped us to further appreciate each others’ efforts in board level recruitment as well as to highlight some of the unique issues faced by trustees today.
Overall it was a month of inspiration from some of the UK’s leading governance experts, trustee boards and from people looking to become trustees.
Almost everyone makes a New Year’s Resolution. Many are of the “negative” variety to give up something be it smoking, alcohol, sugar, chocolate etc. As we know these are difficult to keep but if you do succeed there is a lot of satisfaction at one’s self-discipline and restraint.
Another type of resolution is to do something personal, e.g. daily swimming, jogging, yoga etc and again there is a boost if one can keep these up.
But for 2016 why not consider a third and perhaps the most satisfying type of resolution – namely to do something to help people and the community by volunteering.
All research shows that volunteers receive a significant boost to self-esteem and happiness through helping charities to thrive and fulfill their vital role as part of the glue that holds society together. There are millions of opportunities to volunteer in the UK and charities are always looking for new recruits.
Volunteers with professional career skills such as management, accountancy, law, marketing, IT, HR etc play pivotal roles at many charities and in some cases are responsible for the charity surviving at all.
We at Reach Volunteering have been working for more than 35 years as a matching service to place many thousands of professional skilled volunteering with charities – including many trustees.
We have found that more than 90% of volunteers placed by Reach say volunteering gave them the opportunity to use their skills to make a difference, while 98% of charities said their Reach volunteer had made them more effective in accomplishing their mission.
Here are a couple of 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.”
Alan Flack said: “I wanted to put my management accountancy skills to good use,” 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.
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.”
So why not make your resolution for 2016 to volunteer?
If you have professional skills you want to share with a UK charity, find out about our latest skilled volunteering opportunities on the website.
We are sure it will make you happy! And of course you can resolve to do a daily swim and give up chocolate as well!
I am often very humbled by the number and range of people willing to donate their time and expertise to charities. One feature of our new website is that for the first time the volunteers offering their time, expertise and skills are listed and can be easily seen. Volunteering opportunities are often listed but now you can see the huge amount of skills on offer from volunteers, and they really do vary: digital skills, financial expertise, copywriting, market research, business advice and strategic planning. And this is to name just a few.
I spoke to one of the first volunteers to register, Andy Cummins. Andy is Head of Technical Production at digital agency Cogapp and wants to share his expertise as a trustee of a charity. I spoke to him about why he wants to volunteer and what he has to offer:
Why did you sign up?
“After many years of working in the digital sector I have built up skills I feel I could definitely give to other people. In my role at Cogapp, I have worked with many charities specifically working on their digital requirements so I understand the amount of resources they have available. I feel I could bring digital and website skills and knowledge that could be of benefit.”
What sort of skills do you have to offer a charity?
“My background is very technical so I have lots of online expertise. I originally started as a computer programmer and have moved into web development and managing digital large-scale projects. I now lead a team here at Cogapp so I have all the experience that being a senior manager brings: career development, recruiting, managing high-level strategic projects, tendering and pitching for work, embedding organisational change, positioning and marketing, and facilitating workshops.”
“I have many non-profit clients in the arts and cultural sector; for example I have recently been working with Southbank Centre and for some of the largest museums and galleries in the world such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York and The Tate and the National Portrait Gallery in London.”
What sort of voluntary position are you looking for?
“I would like to find a trustee position where I can share my digital and web expertise and help direct how an organisation runs. I like to make a difference so an organisation with ambition is where I feel I would offer most benefit. I work in a busy, full time job and have a young family but I want to put my skills to good use and a trustee position would suit my lifestyle.”
“I am looking to get involved with a progressive organisation preferably in the cultural space in Brighton or London but I am not restricted and would be open to explore other organisations. I am also happy to wait until the right option comes along so I can make the most of my expertise.”
Andy is just an example of one of the many talented individuals in the Reach community who want to get involved with a charity. If you are a charity looking for skilled volunteers or trustees, sign up and speak to people like Andy about joining your organisation.
You can search and approach people who fit the skills you need. Likewise, if you are a volunteer you can directly contact the organisations with the positions that most appeal to you.
And don’t feel shy about getting in contact! This could mean approaching a charity that you really like the sound of, or contacting a volunteer with the ideal skills for your opportunity. This new function means you can communicate, collaborate and explore whether something is the right fit for both parties so make the most of it! You can find more advice on how to use the site on our website.
Remember to get in contact if you have any feedback about the site; we want to make this as useful a resource for the voluntary sector as possible. We look forward to working with you!
Reach’s focus on skills-based volunteering means we place highly-skilled volunteers into charities on a daily basis.
We ask about the impact our volunteers are making a few months into their role, but when we heard about the difference one has made nearly a decade after our initial introduction, we knew it was a story worth telling.
I spoke to Alison Butcher, the Founder of Agents of Change about her work and about May, the volunteer who joined in 2006 and the impact she has made.
The charity’s story – Agents of Change
Agents of Change is a small charity working with vulnerable people and those with special needs in Eastern Europe, primarily Romania. Founded by Alison Butcher, following her work after the 1989 Romanian revolution, the organisation empowers people to look after their own health needs through teaching and rehabilitation in the community.
In 2006, Agents of Change desperately needed extra help to do bookkeeping, accounting, auditing, and financial management in order to keep track of their income and spending; their work overseas made this particularly complex. Reach introduced Alison to May, a volunteer with financial and bookkeeping expertise. May has been there ever since – that’s nearly ten years!
Alison said, “May was ideal for our needs. The period after May joined us was such a learning journey for me! May’s auditing background meant she hugely professionalised our financial procedures; we could not have operated at such a high standard without her help.
May has overhauled all our processes ensuring bookkeeping, receipting and audit trails are all in place which massively reduces our risk. She is an absolute joy to work with and very professional.
The longer she was with us, the more we came to appreciate her. This is exactly how volunteering and working with someone should work – we have taught each other so much. The Reach service was fantastic though I never expected May to be with us for nine years. As a small charity with a very practical set-up, her help has been invaluable.”
The volunteer’s story – May
We spoke to May spoke to us about her near decade-long stint at Agents of Change, where she contributed her expertise to help people both in the UK and Romania:
“My experience in auditing meant I had worked in environments with high levels of control; I realised I had valuable transferable skills which could benefit a UK charity.
One of my initial challenges at Agents of Change was to teach Alison the financial processes needed to ensure best practice in the organisation. She had been doing everything on her own up to that point; I had to be very patient as we had lots to put in place. I set up a number of audit and trail systems to make the organisation more efficient.
Every transaction now has proper accountability. Alison can also implement what she has learnt when she is in Romania which means she can manage her relationships there more effectively.
Volunteering at Agents of Change meant I gained exposure to Romanian accounting procedures as well as conversion rates. As I developed professionally, I was able to benchmark how effective I was professionally, which greatly improved my confidence.
I love both teaching people and finance/auditing and was able to use both skill sets at Agents of Change. I have so enjoyed my nine years here and because of this the time has flown by!
It’s fantastic to hear about a partnership like May and Alison’s work so successfully for so long and for the charity to be doing such valuable work in Romania. However all good things must come to an end as May is emigrating, so Alison is again looking for a volunteer with financial skills to help at Agents of Change.
If you have financial background and want to share you skills (or know someone who does!) please let us know and we’ll put you in touch. Alternatively contact Alison directly to find out more about the role.
It’s Volunteer’s Week this week, the annual event on 1-7 June which celebrates the contribution of volunteers to our society and charities around the UK.
In autumn last year, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane spoke about the Social Value of Volunteering and highlighted both the value that volunteers contribute to UK society (an estimated £50 billion) and that there really is an army of volunteers out there. About 1.25 million people volunteer of all ages, backgrounds, genders and ethnicity.
That’s a huge number and this week is a particular time to say thank you to volunteers in the UK (and internationally) to recognise the contribution they make. As the home of skilled volunteering, last year Reach placed 710 skilled individuals into charities of all sizes, working towards causes which make our society better. Here in the Reach office itself, we are proud to say that we too have our own (albeit smaller) army of skilled volunteers who are the engine of the organisation. We have individuals who support staff with a wealth of talent and experience in all departments, from recruitment to design to IT, who contribute towards making Reach a success.
I spoke to one of our volunteers Tony Swabe who is in our volunteer placement and advisory service, about why he volunteers. This is what he said:
1) Where do you volunteer?
As well as volunteering at Reach since 1998, where I am part of the volunteering matching team, I also volunteer with two other organisations B’Nai B’rith, a Jewish charity and I am on the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at an Immigration Removal Centre. I also chaired a training charity for ten years. My background is in teaching and HR, particularly industrial relations, so my volunteering roles use some of the varied skills I have developed throughout my career.
2) Why do you volunteer your skills?
I volunteer for personal reasons; I like to keep busy and make myself useful but I also volunteer for organisations where I find the cause particularly interesting and important. Working with others is a vital aspect of my volunteering and I find that at Reach we work with a vast source of interesting and varied people. I really support the aims of the organisation and this is important to me with my volunteer work as I want to help it succeed. My volunteering also brings me social involvement where I feel like I can make an effective contribution and – particularly with my IMB work – I can help to ensure people are treated fairly and decently.
3) What aspects do you enjoy most?
You can’t underestimate the benefits of the social contact volunteering brings. I found this especially important when I first retired; volunteering now brings me contact with the working world which keeps me stimulated. It means I mix with people of all ages as well as people outside my family and social circle. I’ve found that volunteering brings me more focus and purpose in life; it’s what life is really all about. You feel as though you are making a valid contribution which is very important.
Tony is just one of the 25 or so volunteers who regularly give their time to us.
Big thanks go to all our volunteers who provide so much expertise, time and resource both to the Reach cause, and beyond.