Skills-based volunteers apply their business experience and specialized expertise to help mission-driven organizations reimagine their possibilities and achieve their goals. In celebration of National Volunteer Month, we spoke with R. Mitchell Thomas, Senior Analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and a dedicated volunteer.
We’ve had the pleasure of working together on several skills-based volunteering projects, including two with Legendary Legacies. Can you share how you’re using your expertise to collaborate with nonprofits on solutions to their capacity building needs?
I’m in the midst of my fifth project with Common Impact and it’s my second time working with Legendary Legacies. Our first project was to help develop performance metrics for their program participants, which aligns with my background in analytics. Our current project is helping them select a client management system, which will enable them to collect the data they’re interested in reporting on. Data management is harder for small organizations that can’t always hire people for that specific role, so it’s great to take what I’ve learned working in larger organizations to help Legendary Legacies develop a system that allows them to better organize and utilize their participant data.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide an organization with something more lasting than the hours that I was working there.
How does skills-based volunteering compare to more traditional volunteering experiences you’ve participated in?
I like the project-focused nature of skills-based volunteering, especially because it gives me the opportunity to utilize my analytical skills. Usually, when I volunteer it’s more manual work, and I appreciate the opportunity to provide an organization with something more lasting than the hours that I was working there.
How has volunteering enhanced your day-to-day work or your career at large?
Working on diverse projects with new people and with organizations solving a variety of issues definitely pushes me to be a more creative problem solver. And because we are creating final products for these projects, I have gotten to utilize pieces of those projects in my day-to-day work.
What would you say to someone who is considering bringing skills-based volunteering to their company or participating in a project for the first time?
Do it! More people and organizations should look into skills-based volunteering to begin or augment their philanthropic efforts. It’s a fantastic way to give back, hone your skills, and learn about organizations doing amazing work. Being able to do these projects remotely has been a huge benefit during the pandemic and as we move into a more hybrid work environment.
Read more about R. Mitchell and his team’s last skills-based volunteering project with Legendary Legacies in our interview with Executive Director Ron Waddell.