Diversity in volunteering

The world of volunteering has changed dramatically over the last decade. When I was little, the word volunteer made me think of a nice old lady in a charity shop. Now, volunteer roles are taken up by anyone and everyone, and the sector is far better off for it. However, we still have plenty of work to do in terms of diversity among our volunteers. For example, people in employment are more likely to volunteer than those who are economically inactive, white people are more likely than ethnic minority groups, and people in the South-West of England are more likely than those in the North-East (Source: NCVO).

Diversity in a charitable organisation is so important. First of all, working closely with a group of people from different background, and with different experiences is bound to give you access to a whole range of perspectives, opinions, and ideas. If every person you work with has lived a similar life, then you’re not going to able to look at things from every angle and come up with the best solutions. Additionally, if your volunteers are like a microcosm of the community you are trying to serve, you’re far more likely to be able to understand and, therefore respond to, the needs of the whole community, rather than just the bits you know about.

together

I also believe that a mixed group of volunteers makes it easier to attract new ones. I know there have been times when I’ve turned up to an event and felt like the odd one out. Maybe I’ve been the only person under 35, or one of the only women – and it doesn’t particularly make me feel like sticking around or coming back. I feel much more comfortable arriving to see a diverse room full of people with different experiences who are coming together because they are all united by wanting to support the same cause.

As well as better serving your community and beneficiaries, working within a diverse group will make the experience better for the volunteers themselves. I recently took an incredible course by Realized Worth about the transformative power of volunteering for the volunteer, and it really opened my eyes to how much it can change your life if done correctly. As part of evolution, humans have evolved to be naturally empathetic, but only towards those who we consider to be part of our ‘inner circle’ – usually either people that we know or people similar to ourselves. However, we do have the capacity to expand that inner circle. The best way to do it is by sharing a meaningful experience with someone, and volunteering together has been shown to be one of the effective methods. Therefore, by volunteering with people who we might not regularly interact with, we’re expanding our inner circles and bringing our communities closer together.

You can also increase the positive impact you’re having as an organisation by targeting groups in your recruitment that would particularly benefit from volunteering. For example, there are studies showing that volunteering can help elderly people to avoid social isolation and to improve their mental and physical health. For refugees and asylum seekers, volunteering is a great way to integrate in the community and start to make friends. For job-seekers, volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and gain some experience to add to their CV. By providing engaging opportunities for groups that can be marginalised, you’re adding value beyond your beneficiaries and your organisation.

Corporate volunteers can also help in this area. Businesses are also part of the community, and forging relationships with the individuals that make up those companies is a great way to open up dialogue between the private and third sectors in your area. Not only that, but you’re gaining access to a whole host of professional skills that could be used to improve your organisation’s operational efficiency and strategic direction.

If you’re looking to improve the diversity of your organisation’s volunteers, a great place to start is with your existing volunteers. First of all, do an audit of who is working with you right now. This will give you an idea of where things stand, and give you an insight into which groups you might be under-representing. If you haven’t been collecting data properly until now, this is a great reason to start! It would also be a good idea to speak to your current volunteers and to find out their opinions on how you’re doing things currently. Find out if diversity is a concern for them, or if they think there might be anything that could be off-putting to a certain group. You could even take it a step further and use your ties to the community to do some market research. By speaking to a mix of different people, you might be able to identify any problems in your current approach and listen to some suggestions on how to overcome them.

same

Once you’ve established your strengths and weaknesses, you can start to create a policy around diversity and inclusion. It can then become a part of your strategy going forward. Firstly, you can consider diversity when creating new roles. There are plenty of questions to ask yourself – do your existing roles appeal to a wide range of potential volunteers? do you have roles and venues that are accessible to people with disabilities? You should also take diversity into account when thinking about recruitment processes. Think about where you advertise your roles and how. Could you put posters up at community centres or groups that target under-represented groups among your volunteers? Are there any online forums relevant to the volunteers you’re trying to target where you could post opportunities? Could you consider audio, braille, or large print adverts? If you are a national charity, could you invest more resources in areas of the country where volunteering is generally lower? There are countless options depending on what your main priorities are!

I think increasing diversity among your volunteers is a really easy way to maximise the positive impact on everyone involved – your beneficiaries, your volunteers, your organisation, and your community as whole. There are plenty of small steps that can be taken to massively improve things in this area, so what are we waiting for?!


For more information about how thirdbridge could help you find new volunteers, please get in touch on info@thirdbridge.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

Don’t waste your New Year’s Resolution

It’s the time of your where we all become super focused on bettering ourselves – and that’s great! I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s Resolutions tend to last approximately 10 days and then the bleakness of January gets the better of me and I slip back into old habits to try and cheer myself up on the long road to spring. However, I think if I managed to find a balance between improving myself and making a difference I would find it a to easier to stick with it – it’s always harder to give up when you know other people will be affected as well.

new yearr

Here are some ideas for resolutions that will make a difference and keep you motivated:

1. Get fit while supporting the training and employment of people leaving prison

New social enterprise The Hard Yard run fitness classes designed and run by ex-offenders. The classes are all in urban spaces, require no equipment, and are really hard work – ideal for getting back on track after Christmas. Classes cost £15 each (or less with package deals), but you know your money isn’t just helping you lose weight – it’s helping to change the lives of ex-offenders by providing them with training and employment.

2. Do exercise while doing good

If you prefer to be a bit more hands on, then perhaps Good Gym is for you. You can take part in mission runs where you help older people in the community with one-off tasks, coach runs where you regularly run to visit an isolated older person, or group runs where you run together to help out with community projects. They’re all over the UK in 39 different locations, so have a look for a group near you.

3. Give your training focus by getting sponsorship for a cause you care about

Getting started with a new training routine is harder, and sticking to it is even harder. That’s why lots of people choose to sign up to an event – maybe a 10k, half marathon, or triathlon. But you can take it one step further by agreeing with a charity that you will gain a certain amount of sponsorship for taking part in the event – that way you have no chance of backing out! Most charities would be delighted to have the support, so do a bit of research about causes you care about, pick a charity, and get it all set up – all you’ll need is a JustGiving page.

4. Prepare yourself for your next promotion with some skilled volunteering

It can be hard to know how to show your employer you have the right skills to take a step up. Perhaps you’re going for your first management position and need to prove your leadership skills, or maybe you just want more responsibility in your area of expertise and need to find a way to show you can think about your role differently. Well, skilled volunteering might be the way to go. More and more employers are using skilled volunteering as a cost-effective but impactful alternative to traditional training programmes. Using your skills to mentor or coach young people is a great way to get used to managing people, and will give you great experience of handling difficult pastoral issues as well as guiding people in the right direction and empowering them to solve their problems. Using your expertise in your business area to provide pro bono support will allow you to use your professional skills in a totally different context, forcing you to think about the issues you face day to day in a different way. There are so many charities looking for this type of support. Do some research and reach out with suggestions to organisations that interest you. We’re also happy to help you find a great opportunity – just get in touch.

5. Drink more water while supporting a great cause

This one ends up on my to do list every January, but every year getting through those two litres gets quickly forgotten. Frank Water and Jerry Bottle both sell lovel refillable water bottles that will make you want to fill up and stay hydrated, and they both donate all profits to help provide clean water for those who need it.

6. Get some healthy snacks and support small-scale producers in rural Africa

Let’s be realistic, giving up snacking is almost impossible. But you can definitely make your snacks healthier – especially if you know that your money is helping to provide sustainable livelihoods for farmers in rural Africa. Check out Aduna and stock up!

exercise

I hope these ideas will help you take the first step on a path towards a better future for you and for society. Good luck!


If you have any other resolutions that haven’t been covered in this list, let us know and we can help point you in the right direction!

How to keep your corporate volunteers coming back for more

Working with corporate volunteers shouldn’t be that different to working with regular volunteers – they’re still people after all. There are plenty of things you can do to ensure they have a great experience, make a real difference to your work, and keep coming back. The key is providing a clear and well-thought out volunteering journey – just as you’d have for your other volunteers.


 

Before the volunteering

writing

  • Create a great role

Start from a place of organisational need. If the volunteering isn’t addressing something you need help with then what’s the point?! Once you’ve worked out your own need, make a role that’s engaging and interesting for the volunteer as well. Then it’s time to write a role description – something like a pared down job description. That way the volunteer is clear on what’s expected of them, and knows about any skills or experience they’d need to have to take part. You can then send an application form round and encourage people to apply.

  • Prepare your volunteers

Having a brief interview process is often a useful step. If it’s a skilled role, it can be essential to make sure that people are right for the role. Otherwise, it’s a good way to get to know your volunteers, build a nice rapport, and make sure they’re enthusiastic about your charity and the role itself. Providing training is a really important step. It can be relatively light touch or much more in depth depending on how complicated the role is, but it’s always useful to get people into the right frame of mind. Even if they won’t be working with beneficiaries directly, it’s still useful to make sure everyone is ready. For example, for pro bono work it can be helpful to give private sector employees some tips on how to adapt their style to suit working with third sector organisations.

  • Collect data

It’s very important to make sure you know who’s volunteering with you. Make sure you collect and store the relevant information while complying with all data protection guidelines. Take this opportunity to gather their preferences on the types of communications you can send to them in the future as well – follow up information about this project, other volunteer roles that might interest them, information about other ways to support you, or newsletters.


During the volunteering

team

  • Brief everyone at the start

Starting the session with a brief is vital. It makes sure that everyone knows exactly what they need to be doing during the day, but it’s also a chance to motivate your volunteers. Take some time to remind why the cause is so important, and why the work they’ll be doing will make such a big impact.

  • Ensure that everyone is busy and engaged

If you’ve spent some time creating great role descriptions at the beginning, everyone should be aware of what part they should be playing. However, it’s always good to make sure first timers are made to feel welcome and guided through the process a bit. You can even use more experienced volunteers to do this – you’re killing two birds with one stone as this empowers the regulars to take more ownership of their volunteering experience and move into leadership positions.

  • Debrief everyone at the end

Providing a debrief is a chance for people to unpack their experience. Give them a chance to think about what they’ve done and the impact their efforts will have had. This part of the day is really important for keeping people engaged – by giving them the space to consider what they’ve achieved and how it made them feel, you’re allowing them to think about the way volunteering has changed them as well as the changes they’ve made to the beneficiaries or to the charity.

  • Collect feedback

By collecting high level feedback on the day, you pretty much guarantee that you’ll have at least some input from every participant. Keep it light and simple – maybe just a net promoter score out of ten, and a free text option for more details.


After the volunteering

thank you

  • Say thank you

Letting your volunteers know that you appreciate them is so important. It makes people feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves and makes them more likely to come back. Make sure it’s personal to them and not just a generic note.

  • Let them know their impact

As you gather impact information about the volunteer activities you offer, make sure to share it with those that were a part of it. Knowing you’ve made a difference is fine, but if you can put an actual figure on it or see the face of a person that’s benefitted, it feels much more real.

  • Cross-sell other opportunities

If they’ve had a good experience, they’re likely to want to come back, but they might not proactively approach you for opportunities. This is why it was so important to collect that data earlier on in the process. You are now able to send them ideas of ways to get involved, whether that be other volunteering opportunities, fundraising days, or becoming an ambassador.


Corporate volunteers can become really valuable long-term supporters if they’re treated right. Hopefully with these tips, you won’t let them slip through your fingers.


If you need any support with corporate volunteering, please get in touch on info@thirdbridge.co.uk.

rosedelfino_bw

 

Guide by Rose Delfino – Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge

 

 


 

Should we be teaching our children about doing good?

The world we live in is a scary one. Society is starkly divided into two warring camps – are you May or Corbyn, Trump or Sanders? Left- and right-wing factions are becoming increasingly militant in the face of alarming and seemingly insuperable societal and environmental problems. Inequality and poverty are at an all-time high. Climate change is getting to the point of being irreversible. Corporations that are bigger than countries are taking over, often with little regard for this vulnerable planet of ours or the people living on it. In short, it’s not a pretty picture. And we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves.

So what hope do we have left? The answer has got to be the next generation. We’ve got to look to the kids and try to lead them down a different path than the destructive ones we’ve taken.

childrennnnn

In my opinion, the first step on this path is understanding and awareness. I know it’s a cliché but knowledge really is power. It’s very easy to go through life without engaging with important issues in a meaningful way. Most young people get their news from social media now, so glossing over issues that are uncomfortable or ostensibly uninteresting is par for the course. Add to this the increasingly stark divisions in society, and it’s feasible to imagine a world where people of different social classes never actually meet. Empathy comes naturally to humans, but only for people that we feel a connection with. True empathy is rare between groups who have barely had any contact, never mind any meaningful interactions.

I was lucky enough to be brought up in a privileged environment. I had the world’s most middle-class childhood with two supportive parents, enough money, food and clothes provided for me, and basically no worries. However, my parents are both fabulous and principled people. They both worked in education, teaching and working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and fighting constantly to give them the same lives they were able to provide for their daughter. This meant I was constantly aware that my delightful existence was by no means the norm. I worked hard at school but I also had no obstacles in my path – I didn’t have to have a part-time job, my parents could help me with my homework, I didn’t need to help look after siblings or care for a sick relative, I never had to worry about my parents not coming home in the evening, I was never trying to get by without eating or washing or sleeping in a comfortable bed. From a young age, I heard stories of children who had suffered atrocities that even adults would struggle to overcome, who had witnessed murder and torture, who had travelled across continents alone to escape persecution, who had to raise their siblings in the place of their drug addicted parents, who had to learn English in just two years to be able to pass their GCSEs. Overcoming those odds is no easy task, and while there are plenty of examples of incredible human beings who succeed despite everything, most don’t. I know I wouldn’t have if put in that position.

childrennn

Just knowing about the existence of different sections of society is a start, but I believe that giving children the opportunity to play with and work with all of their peers is vital. Children don’t have prejudices, and with these experiences, they are far more likely to grow into empathetic adults who care about every type of person, and feel passionate about striving for equality.

As well as experiences, I think there is a place for education as well. Despite ending up working in the third sector, I never received any careers advice pointing me in that direction. Never once did I hear any acknowledgement of the fantastic roles available at charities, at social enterprises, or in CSR and sustainability departments at large companies. I would love to see these jobs celebrated as a valid and prestigious career path, rather than as a ‘nice thing to do’.

Including sustainability, climate change, responsible business, social enterprise, and innovation in the charity sector on standard school curricula would also be a hugely positive change. And I don’t just mean telling kids to save water by having a shower instead of a bath or to be nice to their friends. Children are capable of a much deeper level of understanding than that and we should be engaging with them on the real issues we face and working with them to come up with interesting and effective solutions that we can all get involved with.

childrennnnnnnnnn

Another solution is getting kids out volunteering from a young age. There are so many benefits: they will have an impressive set of extra-curricular activities to help them get into the schools and universities they aspire to, it’s a great activity to do together as a family, it’s a safe and productive way to teach your children about the issues present in our society, and it normalises actively trying to make a positive change in the world.

Being honest about the very serious problems we are all facing is essential. But rather than scare-mongering, we should be giving children the knowledge and confidence to feel like they can be agents for change in the world. Maybe then we will have some hope of getting our world back on track.


If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out this report


rosedelfino_bw

If you have any questions, or would like any support with finding volunteering opportunities, please get in touch: info@thirdbridge.co.uk.

Post by Rose Delfino, Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge.

How to make the most of skilled volunteering: a guide for charities

Are you working for a private sector company? Check out our guide to skilled volunteering for volunteers here.

What is skilled volunteering?

Skilled volunteering is working with volunteers using their professional skills to help you with a strategic or operational challenge.

This can be split up into two main areas:

  • Skill sharing is working with a volunteer who either uses their experience of a particular job or their general professional competencies to help you. This could include an HR Manager advising you on your HR policies, or helping you to improve your pitching skills thanks to their experience of giving presentations.
  • Pro bono is when the volunteer performs a task for free that a client would normally pay them to complete. This could include a lawyer helping you to draw up a contract, or an accountant helping you with your pay roll.

If properly executed, it’s a highly effective and efficient form of support that can have an exponential impact on your organisation for years to come.

This type of volunteering is genuinely a win-win-win. For you, a key issue is tackled, meaning greater efficiency indefinitely, which will open up time and resources for focusing on service delivery. For the employee volunteer, the satisfaction levels are likely to be high given the immediate and lasting impact. It also helps with professional learning and development – 91% of Fortune 500 HR Managers think volunteering improves business and leadership skills (Source:Deloitte). For the employee’s company, a motivated and productive employee with improved skills and experience is obviously desirable.

working (3)

Here are our tips on how to make the most of your skilled volunteering experience:

1. Identifying areas of need

There might be an idea that immediately that jumps to mind, but it’s also worth having a more comprehensive review of your organisation at this stage to establish where some advice and support would have the greatest impact. Speak to your colleagues and gather honest feedback about areas where you need to develop knowledge or improve efficiency.

Areas to consider could include:

Business planning, overall strategy, finance, accounting, legal & compliance, marketing & branding, social media, HR, PR & communications, internal communications, impact reporting, data management, IT infrastructure, website development, design, sales & business development, etc.

Essentially, you could consider any back-end issue that might be stopping you give enough time and attention to your front-line delivery.

Once you’ve got a clearer picture of your high level strengths and weaknesses, you can start drilling down further and developing finite, specific, and manageable focus areas within them. Often, choosing a a topic where you understand the basics but need help to improve is ideal. That means you don’t have to waste valuable time with your volunteers going over simple stuff and can really get into the meaty bits while you’ve got access to those skills and experiences.

2. Seeking out the right support

Don’t rush into a relationship that is going to take a lot of time and resource to manage but not provide impactful support. Pro bono support can be valuable enough in and of itself that there’s no need to only try to work with companies that might be able to partner with you in other ways as well. Take the support at face value and don’t compromise on the quality for hypothetical longer-term support.

If you’re a small organisation then think about working with a small business – there will be less hoops to jump through and they’re likely to understand the pressures of trying to do a lot with not very much.

Take a look at our guide to approaching companies for support for a few more ideas.

There are also plenty of resources to help you find the support you need. Here are just a few suggestions:

And of course our very own thirdbridge network!

3. Preparing for your time together

At this stage you should be aware of the skills and experiences your volunteers have. That means you can start turning your ideas into actual project plans. Make sure that you pick something with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Don’t just ask for ‘help with our website’ – work out exactly what it is you want to tackle, and formulate a specific plan for what you want to get out of the session. Make sure you have a structure in place to follow during the discussion.

4. During your time together

As well as following the structure you planned out in advance, here are our other tips:

  • Be as honest and open as possible. There’s no point in sugar-coating your situation, or the advice you get won’t get to the bottom of your issues.
  • If something isn’t clear, then say so. Your time together is limited and you won’t get the most benefit from it if it isn’t making sense.
  • Ask as many questions as you want, but stay on topic. Don’t be afraid of delving into the details of the problem – make sure you get all the necessary information while you’re there. However, it’s easy to start straying into other areas of concern you may have. This isn’t the time for that – focus on the project you’re trying to tackle and save your other questions for another time or another volunteer that might be better suited to it.

5. Implementing ideas afterwards

Obviously part of the reason you need this support in the first place is that you’re stretched. However, you’ve already invested time into preparing and taking part in the session. There’s no point in just putting the project on the back burner and making no improvements. Make sure to get the relevant members of your team together to talk it through. Invest some real time into putting together an action plan, delegating responsibilities, and starting to implement the ideas.

If you’re going to be working with the volunteers going forward, include them in the discussions and make sure they have clear tasks as well. If not, only contact them if something from the session was unclear. Put timelines in place so tasks don’t keep dropping to the bottom of everyone’s priority lists and allocate a project manager to make sure people are on top of everything.

women


If you would like any support with planning a skilled volunteering project or finding new volunteers, please get in touch: rose@thirdbridge.co.uk.

rosedelfino_bw

Post by Rose Delfino, Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge.

How to make the most of skilled volunteering: a guide for volunteers

Are you working for a charity or social enterprise? Check out our guide to skilled volunteering for charities here.

What is skilled volunteering?

Skilled volunteering is using your professional skills to help a charity with a strategic or operational challenge.

This can be split up into two main areas:

  • Skill sharing is either using your experience of a particular job or your general professional competencies to help a charity. This could include an HR Manager advising a charity on their HR policies, or helping a charity improve their pitching skills thanks to your experience of giving presentations.
  • Pro bono is when you perform a task for free that a client would normally pay you to complete. This could include a lawyer helping a charity to draw up a contract, or an accountant helping a charity with their pay roll.

If properly executed, it’s a highly effective and efficient form of volunteering that can have an exponential impact on the charity you work with for years to come.

This type of volunteering is genuinely a win-win-win. For the charity, a key issue is tackled, meaning greater efficiency indefinitely, which will open up time and resources for focusing on service delivery. For you, the satisfaction levels are likely to be high given the immediate and lasting impact. It also helps with professional learning and development – 91% of Fortune 500 HR Managers think volunteering improves business and leadership skills (Source:Deloitte). For your company, a motivated and productive employee with improved skills and experience is obviously desirable.

working-3

Here are our tips on how to make the most of your skilled volunteering experience:

1. Understanding your own skills

Breaking down your own areas of expertise can be tricky, especially if you have a job that mostly requires soft skills. Draw on your experiences from your entire career – you don’t have to focus on things you do every day in your current role. Take your time and come up with a comprehensive list of experiences you’ve had, then separate out the skills that you picked up from each of them.

Understanding the level of skill the charity has in their areas of need is a good way to decide whether you are skilled enough to help. If you’re working with a big charity that has dedicated staff in the area you’re going to be discussing, then high level knowledge probably won’t be enough. If, however, you’re going to be advising a small organisation with just a couple of staff members in total, your expertise could still make a big difference.

Be upfront about what you can and can’t do – don’t just agree to something you’re not comfortable with. You can even sculpt the project together with the charity to make sure it maximises impact for them while making the most of what you have to offer.

2. Finding charities that need your expertise

A good place to start is your company. They are likely to already have relationships with various charities that you might not even know about. Speak to the relevant people within your organisation to find out what projects they’re already running – there might already be some pro bono initiatives on the go. If not, why not speak to them about your interest? Most companies run projects with charities specifically to make sure their employees are motivated and engaged, so there’s a good chance they’ll work with you to set something up. Otherwise, you could reach out to the charity partners directly to see if they have any needs in those areas.

You can also do some research yourself. Decide where you want to volunteer, how often, which causes you care about, etc. – Google is your best friend here but also try the Charity Commission website to find out some more details about the charity before approaching them. When reaching out, be clear about what you’re offering – whether you represent your company or if you’re just an individual. Use LinkedIn and the charity’s website to find the right person.

There are also external support organisations that you can approach to help you find a charity to work with – including thirdbridge!

3. Preparing for your time together

Working with charities can be quite different to working in the corporate world. They are often smaller than you’re used to, with less staff, and far more limited budgets.

These are our tips:

  • Don’t make suggestions that will require a lot of money to implement. For example, it’s very unlikely these organisation could bring in consultants – unless they could give their time for free.
  • Try not to make suggestions that will require significant manpower in a short amount of time. Most of these organisation have small teams that are already stretched.
  • The representatives you are talking to may not be familiar with what you consider to be standard business language, so try and keep it jargon-free.
  • Having said that, don’t be condescending. Third sector organisations are experts in their fields, and often only struggle to create or implement strategies due to lack of capacity.
  • Remember that the aim is not to create profit. Although some organisations will be looking for advice on fundraising or even selling products, that money is not an end point in itself. It will be used to reach more beneficiaries, recruit and engage more volunteers, and provide the most impactful service they can to those who need it most.
  • Efficiency is so vital for these organisations. If other issues come up during your conversations with the charity, do not be afraid to flag them. Just drawing attention to an issue the organisation may not realise it has is useful.

4. During your time together

Clearly there needs to be some flexibility in the process, but putting some structure in place for the discussion is definitely a good idea.

Here are our thoughts:

  • Start with a quick overview of the charity, the challenge they are hoping to address, and how your skills fit in with that.
  • Start exploring the challenge. Think about how it fits into the wider context of the organisation, where they are now, and where they want to be. Consider the culture or internal politics of the organisation too.
  • Use this time to try and gauge how far along the organisation is on the journey to solving the problem, and adapt your approach accordingly.
  • Take into consideration any work already done to address the issue, both internally or through other external support.
  • Then you can get stuck into recommendations, solutions, proposals, and really tackle what needs to be done to overcome this challenge.

5. Afterwards

Be upfront about whether you can keep supporting them after your initial time together. If you can, also be clear about how much time you can commit, how often, and for how long.

If you can’t keep supporting them, consider at least offering to stay in touch – that way if they have any quick follow up questions about the work you’ve already done they are able to reach out. It would also be nice to check up on how things are going after three, six, and twelve months. That way you’ll have a real understanding of the impact you’ve had and how the charity has used your ideas to improve their operations.

If you can continue the support, then spend some time setting expectations and making an action plan for everyone involved. Committing to a relationship like this should be taken seriously by both sides and you should all be clear what your responsibilities are and how the project will be managed going forward.

women


If you would like any support with finding a charity to volunteer with, please get in touch: rose@thirdbridge.co.uk.

rosedelfino_bw

Post by Rose Delfino, Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge.

Remaining impactful while volunteering outdoors with your team

I’m the first to admit that England is not a tropical paradise. However, the British people are famously resilient. The slightest glimpse of a ray of sunshine and we’re sprawled on the grass, Pimm’s in hand. For those of us lucky enough to work for a company that gives us time off to volunteer, it’s obviously very tempting to make the most of the weather by volunteering outdoors. There’s certainly no problem with that in theory, but it’s important to keep in mind that outdoorsy, group-style volunteering activities are really in demand with employers and employees alike. Often, they are resource- and time-intensive for the charity to organise, and, sometimes, they don’t really have a huge impact. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it though. Just make sure you keep a few things in mind when picking your opportunity:

gardening

1. It might come with a cost

Hosting a large group of volunteers takes a lot of time to organise and requires a lot of supervision on the day. Charity workers are extremely stretched as it is, and staff time obviously has a cost that needs to be considered. Furthermore, outdoorsy activities are often quite resource-heavy – gardening tools, equipment, paint, seeds, etc. This obviously also has a cost that needs to be covered. You can ask your company to help, pay it out of your own pocket, or raise the money with a bake sale or other fundraising activity.

2. Be upfront about whether you or your company might be able to support them with other things as well

If there isn’t a cost, it might be because the charity is hoping to engage you, your colleagues, or your company longer-term. Be honest about whether this is a possibility or not – it doesn’t have to be a guarantee! There are plenty of ways this could work. Is your company looking for a new partner? Might your colleagues want to do a sponsored run for them? Do they need skills that your company could provide pro bono? Would you be interested in volunteering with them in your free time? If not, be up front about it – they’ll probably still appreciate the one-off help.

3. Make sure they actually need this help

Check that the activity you’ll be doing is actually going to make a difference to the charity. Sometimes charities will allow volunteers to take part in ‘fun’ activities so they’re enthusiastic and more likely to encourage their colleagues or companies to work with them in the future. If you’re not sure that will happen, make sure the activity is actually going to be useful for the charity.

4. Use your skills

If you’re known for killing every houseplant you’ve ever had, then perhaps helping out at a community garden isn’t the best use of your time. Think about what you’re good at and try to find an activity that suits you – you’ll enjoy it more and it will have more of an impact.

5. Enjoy yourself but take it seriously

Volunteering outdoors in the summer with a group of colleagues is a really fun, but make sure you actually got the job done. Also, make the most of being there – take the time to talk to staff from the charity and find out about their work, get to know beneficiaries if they’re there as well, and engage with the issue they’re trying to solve.


farmm

There are plenty of great charities in genuine need of groups of volunteers for outdoors activities. Here are a few that we’ve come across recently:

The Wimbledon Guild

Groups of up to 10 people are welcome in The Wimbledon Guild‘s community garden in Wimbledon. There are plenty of tasks to get stuck into, including building raised beds, weeding, composting, and generally keeping the garden looking neat and pretty.

SweetTree Farming for All

Team-building days can be spent at SweetTree Farming for All‘s farm in Mill Hill. Tasks include building a shed together, clearing brambles from woodland areas, digging out a pond area, or planting new plants in growth beds.

Deen City Farm

Groups of up to 20 can head down to Wimbledon to help Deen City Farm and Stables continue with their activities. There are tasks all year round, including fencing, building, painting, gardening, woodwork, and mending.

Friends of Bradford’s Becks

In the springtime, your group would be able to help the Friends of Bradford’s Becks with keeping the waterways of the area clean and free from litter.

Sedbergh Youth and Community Centre

Sedbergh Youth and Community Centre are struggling with an overgrown, untidy outdoor cycle track and woodland walk. They need clearing so the centre can carry on with their summer activity schemes. Their outdoor activity equipment also needs painting and staining.


If you would like any help with finding suitable volunteering opportunities for your team, please get in touch on info@thirdbridge.co.uk.

rosedelfino_bw

 

Post by Rose Delfino, Community Development & Marketing Manager at thirdbridge