Volunteering: How to (S)kill it with Kindness
Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV) and virtual volunteering have seen a steady uptick even before the onset of COVID-19. Singaporean millennials are drawn to volunteer opportunities and pro bono work like moths to a bonfire. They have helped a slew of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) and Social Enterprises achieve greater social impact. SBV’s popularity rests in its mutual benefits, allowing young professionals to pursue purpose and passion.
Kindness Forgets Kindness
‘Volunesia’ refers to the reciprocal moment when you forget that you are changing lives because it is changing your own. This euphoric realisation is more than just transient–it creates ripples which, over time, gathers enough traction to make waves. In the wake of COVID-19, President Halimah Yacob expressed her heartfelt delight at seeing “the strong spirit of volunteerism among our youth.” This strong volunteerism spirit speaks to the generation of young professionals who find meaning in championing different social causes. Young professionals today are more socially-aware and actively pursue an intersection of purpose and passion. Given their digital savviness and knack for creative marketing, they lend their talent to enhance the capabilities of various social organisations. This is reflected in the marked rise in Skills-Based Volunteerism (SBV), allowing the whole alphabet soup of welfare organisations–NGOs, NPOs and IPCs– and social enterprises to generate synergy from a trove of talent.
Skills to Fill Organisational Needs
Social organisations often operate on a very lean structure in order to optimise resources for programs that benefit their communities. This constraint on resources forces the core team to focus squarely on the delivery of organisational goals. This narrowing of focus causes NPOs to de-prioritise strategic business initiatives, limiting the outreach and impact of their social mission. It is apparent that NPOs can only be the vehicle for change as much as there are talent and resources to fuel its drive.
According to a 2015 survey of pro bono trends in Asia, most social organisations in Singapore agree that Skills-Based Volunteering reduces operating costs and helps organisers amplify impact. However, more donations and frugal spending will not be enough to ensure the sustainability of the organisation. These organisations are increasingly dependent on the Skills-Based Volunteers to ease the crunch on resources, manpower and talent, filling its wide-ranging needs.
Skills-Based Volunteering empowers nonprofits by diversifying its capacity of high-skilled labour. It taps on the domain-specific knowledge of volunteers to aid their clients and communities. With a spectrum of high-calibre volunteers rendering their skills, organisations can develop long-term business strategies and systems that support growth and expansion. Additionally, Skills-Based Volunteering will allow them to outsource several aspects to skilled volunteers as opposed to spreading themselves thin. This will enable the organization’s core teams to focus on the big picture.
Volunteering for the Win-Win
There are mutual benefits when it comes to Skills-Based Volunteering. Both the social organisation and volunteer are able to build capacity and develop competencies while serving a less privileged segment in society. This twin goal of developing socially and professionally is in tandem with the shift away from conventional business goals, such as market share and category domination. Findings from the Deloitte Human Capital Trends in 2018 reveal that businesses today emphasize on social capital by engaging with diverse stakeholders and cultivating a sense of mission and purpose. If this premise sounds similar, it is exactly because future businesses are modelling themselves closely after Skills-Based Volunteering.
Skills Without Bills
For organisations, the beauty of Skills-Based Volunteering is that it comes at zero cost, with the 100 per cent interest of talented individuals. This pipeline of talented volunteers provides access to specialized skill sets and that organisations may not otherwise be able to afford. Skilled volunteers readily offer their expertise and experience to solve longstanding challenges with a fresh perspective. Some benefits that organisations stand to gain include better website analytics, creative campaign collaterals and targeted marketing strategies. These can help the organisation to stay relevant and grow substantially for the foreseeable future.
Pro Bono to Professional
For volunteers, taking up pro-bono work is a useful way to expand their professional network and to build their portfolio. It allows them to find their footing in a fluid and fast-paced environment that is unfamiliar and exciting. The volunteering opportunities offered by these organisations expose volunteers to unique experiences that their desk-shackled careers may not otherwise provide. Skills-based volunteering can also lead to fruitful partnerships and other areas for professional collaboration in the future.
Aside from the professional development, the alignment with social mission and impact of NPOs can also be spiritually rewarding. It goes beyond clinical and commercial interests of the workplace. The drive for positive social change can instil purpose, fulfilment and enlightenment for people worn out by the drudgery of work. In a world inundated by depressing news stories and world developments, volunteerism offers an opportunity to bring some social good and effect change.
Volunteer with Skills for Good!
Skills for Good is a volunteer-matching organisation in Singapore, 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’.