Harnessing the power of skilled volunteers

Annika Howard
Volunteers brainstorming ideas

Doing more with less is a challenge facing many charities. When time and resources become stretched it can be difficult to focus on much beyond delivering the service your helpline provides. If you don’t have the specialist skills within your organisation, or you need a little bit of extra support for a specific project, being able to access volunteers with specialist skills can make a real difference. Whether you are looking for support with your communications, IT or a specific creative project here are three organisations that may be able to help.

The power of communications - Volunteers with media and communications skills

The Media Trust, a communications charity, supports charities to get their voice heard. They work with media and communications professionals who share their time, knowledge and creativity. The Media Trust ‘believes in the power of communications to save lives’ and that’s why they help other charities to amplify their voices.
The Media Trust has a network of skilled volunteers from across the media and communications industry from individuals who have signed up to volunteer to volunteers from their corporate partners – organisations including Google, Facebook, and The Guardian.
The volunteers can help support you to develop strategies and campaigns, help you to build communications skills and capacity within your organisation by training your staff and volunteers and, even help you create content for your charity from films and photos to logos and branding.

Visit the Media Trust website to find out more about the ways their volunteers can help and how to register to find skilled volunteers.

Harnessing technology for good – volunteers with IT skills

The Charity IT Association (CITA) helps charities to get the most from their IT. They recognise that many charities are under-resourced when it comes to IT and often don’t know who to ask or trust about their IT problems.
From tech surgeries, a free health check on how you are using IT, support with a specific IT project like scoping out the requirement for a new website, to providing the skills to support you to successfully deliver an IT project, CITA’s volunteers can provide really valuable technical skills.
Their support is available to charities with an income of up to £5 million a year. You need to register on the website in order to be able to put in a request for help from one of their volunteers.

To find out more about some of the projects they have supported other charities with and the range of help they can offer, visit the CITA website.

Collaborative challenges – generous people doing good for nothing

Good For Nothing (GFN), is all about collaborating for good, as they say, ‘bringing smart folk together to solve stuff that matters’. They ask two questions ‘What’s your biggest challenge?’ and ‘How can we help?’ Their aim is to support those people and organisations innovating on social issues with limited resources through engaging people from creative professions, such as designers, developers and copywriters, and tapping into their skills and energy through civic participation.
They have an open access approach, anyone can join and the solutions, learnings, and prototypes that emerge from their challenges are free for others to use too. GFN have Chapters, local groups, all across the UK and internationally that challenge people to use their creativity to address social issues where they live. Through short ‘gigs’ and challenges, GFN members gift their skills, ideas, and energy to support projects of social good.

You can find out more about some of the challenges GFN volunteers have been involved with, local chapters and how to get in touch on their website.

Mutual benefit

Reading the case studies on these three websites it’s clear to see the positive impact that working with volunteers can have on a charity. But, it’s not just the charity that benefits from working with volunteers. For the volunteers, it can be a refreshing change from their normal day to day work, an opportunity to experience working within a different sector and provide a sense of fulfilment in sharing their skills for good.

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