If you are anything like me then over the years you’ve probably taken part in charity runs, sat in baths of beans and maybe even done a charity skydive (yep I have).
But charities need more than just money – they need skills and this is where you can help out.
I know that many of my clients and followers are professional people and my mission today is to persuade you to get involved.
I wanted to finish the week by sharing some of my experience of working with charities and let you know what you can expect to get out of it.
Doing it all for charidee mate
So I’ve been involved with local charities for quite a few years now and before you accuse me of humblebragging I can promise you I get much more out of it than they do.
I’ve worked as a volunteer, a consultant, have donated training days and am currently a charity trustee. All of these are very different positions and all of them have given me satisfaction, experience and a new perspective.
So what can you expect to get out of your involvement with charities?
The mercenary bit
There are so many reasons why you should get involved with a charity today that I can’t believe I am even having to tell you, but I will.
I’m going to start off with the mercenary advantages of working with charities for no other reason than I wanted to get it out of the way.
The first benefit I got out of it was that I had charity experience. This meant that in my day job as a finance consultant I could legitimately be put forward for charity and nonprofit jobs.
Acting as a trustee or Community Interest Company director also gives you board level experience that is attractive for future employers as it shows the level you are able to work at.
I also think that being on the board of a charity gives future employers and clients a sign that you are more interested in the world around you. A rounded personality if you like.
I’ve also increased my network of professionals, many of whom I am still in touch with and have worked with subsequently.
The touchy-feely bit
So that’s the money bit about serving as a volunteer but what about the feel-good factor?
Well, being part of something important, and being able to contribute, even if it is just in a small way is a great feeling.
This is especially important if you are a contractor or self-employed worker as there are times when you’ll find yourself without work, which can be tough mentally.
I find that in private industry, nobody is surprised that you can do your job well because you are expected to be brilliant. Consequently, it is rare to receive genuine thanks or appreciation.
In the charity sector, people are much more appreciative of your time, after all you are giving it for free. You also find that advanced skills are in short supply, so when you add your knowledge and experience to the mix, you are able to massively improve things for the better.
I’ve worked with some pretty crappy private businesses and I have always found that helping out with a charity is almost a way of restoring Karma a bit. Ying/yang in balance you might say.
One of the best days ever was when I was working with a mental health charity and we had an away day with trustees, management and service users and listening to the stories of how the charity had made their lives better was inspiring and lives with me today.
I’ve learned a huge amount as a result of working with the charity sector from technical stuff like SORPS, board governance and even simple legal and HR aspects from my fellow trustees.
Working with charities gives you confidence, inspiration and helps you retain a sense of perspective on what things are really important in the world.
After all it’s difficult to get massively worried by the fact that you used the wrong font in the monthly management accounts when you are also helping distribute food parcels in the evening!
Choose a cause that is dear to your heart because you’ll be giving your time for free, decide what time you can give and what level you want to work at and then make contact.
If you have a charity that you particularly want to work with then make contact directly. Don’t get upset if they don’t answer immediately, time follows a different path in the voluntary sector but if you don’t get contacted after a while then reach out again. (I hate that phrase).
If you are looking for charity roles or to work as a trustee then why not check out the REACH website.
They have a listing of charities that are actively looking for help and you can set up an account and get notified when roles matching your interests turn up.
You could also look at Third Sector that has a combination of paid and volunteer roles that is constantly updated.
The Cranfield Trust is an organisation that provides project, consultancy and mentoring support for charities and you can apply to become a consultant and then work on shorter-term projects with a wide variety of different charities.
Go on have a look now. I promise you’ll get so much out of volunteering for a charity that you will never look back.