Holding the key to children’s future through education, Empower2Free teaches fundamental life skills that are not found in schools. Primarily teaching money management skills that integrates financial literacy training with self-awareness and life hacks, Empower2Free essentially empowers children and youths to be independent adults in tomorrow’s workforce.
Prior to COVID-19, Empower2Free ran numerous face-to-face workshops and created games like DebtMaster and The Inequality Mass, incorporating elements of debts, insurance and investment into their gameplay. Participants learnt jargon commonly used in the financial world. However, due to COVID-19, face-to-face training could no longer resume during the lockdown. They then started rolling out their e-learning platform where learners could learn about financial literacy digitally. This included figuring out ways to pivot their original card games into a digital form so that people can still play and learn while abiding by social distancing rules.
In the past, “volunteering” may have simply meant going to an old folk’s home and spending time with the beneficiaries. However, in recent years, more focus has been on e-volunteering (also known as skills-based volunteering), where people use their skills and time to volunteer instead. Cynthia, the founder of Empower2Free, has been working in the social sector since 2013. What she noticed was that more volunteers are embracing the idea of developing new skills and coming in with a variety of skill sets which may then benefit the organisations that they work with.
While Cynthia’s perspective that the benefits of e-volunteering have not changed much, she is certain that volunteers these days have a lot more to offer and are more open to the concept of e-volunteering. To her, the benefits of volunteering are still similar in terms of giving yourself a unique advantage or giving some experience, which can be an edge over your peers. The main differentiating factor among volunteers now is the increased focus by organisations on the motivations and skill sets that the volunteers have.
Choosing the right volunteers can be tricky. The two factors that Empower2Free prioritizes when looking for volunteers are commitment and attitude. The values that these volunteers hold should also align with the company, in terms of both work values and personal development. “Be open and be willing to share”, Cynthia shared. An observation that she made from volunteers with whom she had the best working relationships with was that communication is a “two-way street” and that it is important to be honest about what we think. There is a need to find a balance with a more consultative process between both parties.
On why Empower2Free is staying on with Skills For Good, Cynthia credited Ming Han, one of the project managers from Skills For Good. Together with Mei Yi, the other co-founder of Empower2Free, Cynthia mentioned that the trio has similar work ethics.
In addition, as a start-up social enterprise, Empower2Free had much to do but with limited resources. With the duo’s expertise being in teaching and facilitation, they needed to fill a gap in their marketing side. To tackle this, Empower2Free engaged the help of Skills For Good which had a pool of volunteers to offer their help. Eventually, Skills For Good provided volunteers who assisted in the creations of electronic digital mailers and content for their social media platforms. Cynthia also shared how the volunteers from Skills For Good even went the extra mile by doing research for the social organisation regarding young people and financial literacy.
Skills For Good, as described by Cynthia, is a bridge that connects them to volunteers. With the help from Skills For Good, Cynthia and Mei Yi could focus on what they do best while still ensuring that they had people with the relevant expertise helping them move their enterprise towards a more digital experience.
About Skills for Good
Skills for Good, a local volunteer-matching organisation, with a base of eclectic volunteers with skills ranging from marketing and communications to information technology to fundraising. We seek to empower volunteers through convenient and meaningful skills-based volunteering opportunities that help social organisations to achieve their mission. Volunteer with us today and wake up tomorrow with the warm and fuzzy sensation of ‘volunesia’.
Lead Author: Kok Nee Tsu
Co-Author: Nur Laili