Last Monday, I attended a seminar hosted by Evenbrite, “Leveraging Pro Bono Talent to Build Organizational Capacity.” This seminar brought up a very good discussion about why non-profit organizations need to utilize volunteers’ greatest skills or challenging new skills and how can that benefit workplaces.
There is no doubt that any non-profit organizations can benefit greatly from volunteers. They sure do need people to stuff envelopes, enter data entries and/or file papers. However, volunteers should not be only offered to do these mundane pro-bono work. In order for non-profit organizations to lure in as many volunteers as they want and keep them for as long as they can, they need to focus on utilizing volunteers’ greatest skills and passion.
For example, if an individual has an expertise in technology infrastructure, non-profit organizations should offer this individual volunteer opportunities to utilize his/her skills by having him/her set up and fix computers and wi-fi and/or give computer lessons. Companies would also really benefit from employees who do pro-bono work in their area of expertise because employees would be able to keep their skills fresh.
Individuals also can do pro-bono work in areas where they have little or no expertise but can learn as they do the work. For example, a non-profit organization may need a volunteer to manage their social media content. While some individuals, who use Facebook and/or Twitter on regular basis for personal purposes, may not have experiences in managing the social media for an organization or a company, they can learn on the go. Then once they’ve mastered the skills, they can bring their renewed knowledge to the companies where they work by starting up a social media platform or bring in ideas for social media strategies.
When volunteers are able to focus on their area of expertise or work on a new skill, they feel much more passionate about their work because they are challenged and know that they are doing something extremely productive and big for a cause.
Companies and non-profit organizations both can benefit greatly when non-profit organizations utilize volunteers’ greatest skills because it helps both of them improve the quality of their organizations.