Community service and a spirit of volunteerism hold a place in the hearts of many millennials. We relentlessly seek ways to care for the marginalized. College provided a perfect platform for us to exercise this passion as opportunities to plug into communities and give back were ready-made; all we really needed to do was sign up and show up.
Life after university has, however, proved to be a different story as we have to seek out volunteer opportunities on our own. Let’s admit: with jam-packed schedules and the everyday adulting struggles, it can be quite difficult to find an organization to volunteer with on a consistent basis.
Enter skill-based volunteering
This is where skill-based volunteering —typically known as pro bono work— comes in. Skill-based service enables you to match your skills and interests with the needs of a non-profit. Many non-profits are often lacking the staff capacity, so they need help in areas like marketing, financial management, strategic planning, and technology. Organizations are in need of professionals to partner with them in solving complex, pressing issues —and that’s where you provide value.
While filling an essential need, volunteering gives you an invaluable opportunity to sharpen your skills and diversify your background in areas that interest you. Technology opens greater access to organizations and projects that are all over the globe.
Through skill-based volunteering, the digitally savvy woman can tap into a deeper pool of opportunities that are not readily available in her current network. You’ll build a portfolio for that side hustle you’ve been meaning to kick start and amp up the experience section of your CV. All from the comfort of your living room with a warm cup of coffee (or tea) in hand.
Skill-based volunteering grants you an invaluable opportunity to sharpen your skills Click To Tweet
I started my skill-based volunteering journey to explore an interest in consulting non-profit organizations. I wanted to facilitate an experience that would mirror the expert-client relationship found in working with organizations to help further their mission.
After looking through LinkedIn postings and several volunteer websites, I came across Catchafire —a website that connects professionals with nonprofits. Within three months, I worked with three organization on projects that involved marketing and communications strategy. The most rewarding part being that these organizations supported issues that I cared about!
If you’re ready to launch your skill-based volunteering journey, here are 3 quick ways to get started:
- Sit down and draw a list of the competencies you’d like to build. A great way to do this is to review career opportunities that interest you and see what a competitive candidate background looks like. This can help you determine the kinds of projects to take on.
- Think of causes that you’re most passionate about. If you enjoy working with troubled teens, for example, you can focus your search on organizations that serve that demographic. This will not only allow you to engage a community you care for but also aid in addressing the issues facing it.
- Once you’ve narrowed your list of competencies and causes, it’s time to reach out to nonprofits. Leverage volunteer matchmaking platforms like Catchafire and Taproot, or utilize your LinkedIn profile. Catchafire connects volunteer professionals with nonprofits through 1-hour consulting phone calls and/or fully-fledged projects. My favorite aspect of Catchafire is the personal dashboard it generates with project details, experience testimonials, and your monetized impact —all great metrics to share on your CV or portfolio. Taproot has pro-bono opportunities ranging from one-on-one consultations to team-based, long-term projects. On LinkedIn you can specify in the volunteer section that you’re searching for pro-bono projects, thus making it easier for nonprofits to find you.
As you start working with nonprofit organizations, it’s important to treat these projects with the same regard and excellence as you would any other engagement. Discuss project specifics and map out a project timeline with benchmarks, deliverables and KPIs. A carefully organized experience enables you to share your skills in a meaningful way and also ensures that the nonprofits get quality service.Organized skill-based volunteering enables you to share your skills in a meaningful way Click To Tweet
What are you waiting for?
The bottom line is that skill-based volunteering is a great way to build and develop your professional background as you provide value and drive social impact in marginalized communities.
While you diversify your CV, you’re also building a network of professionals active in the causes you’re most passionate about. Therein opening up opportunities for future ventures to implement sustainable community development programs.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start volunteering! To help guide you through the volunteering process, SLA has created a cheat sheet. Grab it by here —sign up and slay up!