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Why you could consider offering ‘skills-based volunteering’

By Common Impact | May 17, 2024

Setting up volunteering opportunities for staff involves a lot of back-office work for HR departments. That’s why Leila Saad argues companies need to get something back from it too:

By Peter Crush

Ever since workers started to dribble back to the office, keen to mix with their peers, feel part of their community once again and reconnect to their employers’ vision, corporate volunteering has been the good-news story that has kept on giving.

Participation levels are up, hours volunteered are up, reward programs linked to volunteering are increasing, while the numbers of new volunteers is also hitting new highs. [See Benevity’s recently produced State of Corporate Volunteering Report), and TLNT’s own take on what it means last month].

In fact, of all the things employers can be doing to promote wellness amongst their staff, it was recently revealed that is was only volunteering that was found to have any clear benefit.

According to data from the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, which studied the outcomes of 90 different well-being interventions (including the likes of mindfulness apps, coaching sessions, relaxation classes and resilience courses), it concluded volunteering was the only intervention that made any significant wellbeing improvements.

Could volunteering be more strategic though?

All of this is obviously great to see. Staff get a well-needed wellbeing kick; while the charities staff do their volunteering for also get a boost too – be it from a staff volunteering their labor, or their skills. To many, it’s a win-win all around.

But could volunteering be ‘even more’ beneficial?

One woman, Leila Saad, thinks it can. Saad is the CEO of Common Impact, which works to pair-up volunteers and organizations in what she claims is a much more strategic way. Saad aims to find opportunities that not only help the charities, but actually equip volunteering staff with new skills in return – skills that they can bring back into their own organization.

She calls this ‘skills-based volunteering’ (as opposed to traditional volunteering), and believes it’s is a much better quid-pro-quo outcome for organizations that have to coordinate volunteering for staff. Rather than have people offer up their own well-honed skills, but which are the sort of things they can do in their sleep – she says it’s better if volunteering staff are also learning new skills too.

It sounds intriguing. So, to hear a bit more about what she means by all of this, TNLT decided to sit down and have a chat with her:

Follow Leila Saad on LinkedIn

For more social impact content, follow Common Impact on LinkedIn and sign-up for our monthly newsletter. Ready to learn more about skills-based volunteering? Contact us.