Volunteering is not just “stuffing envelopes”

One of the big issues for volunteers is finding opportunities that truly take advantage of their skills – particularly corporate skills. I must admit that it looks like volunteers are primarily the mass labour force of fundraising and then front line service and administrative tasks.

Volunteer public speaking

So I was pleased to hear of a role at Habitat for Humanity where the volunteer was responsible for information delivery sessions – presentations to new home owners explaining the financial obligations and details of home ownership. This took advantage of the volunteer’s speaking and coaching skills and did not, as is synonymous with Habitat, involve a hammer.

A little research online uncovered a similar role at the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Become a Presenter for our Community Education Programs

Volunteers are trained to facilitate our Learning Series Presentations to people affected by diabetes including community groups, corporate lunch n’ learns, seniors, service clubs etc.  This is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to improve their public speaking skills and to help educate people about diabetes and diabetes management. (www.diabetes.ca)

This got me thinking. How many causes out there need to explain their story? Why not use energized, professional level volunteers to carry the message.

Volunteer consulting time

I’ve run into a few management consulting oriented volunteer positions. Non profits apply for help with a project and professionals give their time and skills, usually in a team structure. Very similar to the work they do during the day, these volunteers come from consulting shops or marketing agencies and essentially do pro-bono assignments. One aggregator of opportunities is Endeavour (www.endeavourvolunteer.ca).  Of course, the established versions of this are the executive level volunteer organizations like CESO (www.ceso-saco.com) and CUSO (www.cuso-vso.org) where the work is in country and usually developmental.

What would you do with free or low cost staff?

So I ask what roles are considered only the domain of employees? Where could you do some creative structuring to augment your workforce, take advantage of specialty skills and share the workload?

There are many folks looking for opportunities to contribute. If you don’t have the roles for them today, start thinking about your volunteer model for the near future.

1 comment
  1. Figured I’d add my 2 cents since I was the person presenting the information sessions at Habitat. I got a lot out of it and found it really improved my presentation skills. I had been doing toastmasters, which is great for public speaking, but after so many years I found the environment too consistent. It was always a quiet room with people paying attention, I wanted to try something different. At Habitat the room was often noisy as folks brought their kids, often older kids were translating the session, people asked questions. It was a completely different environment and it really fine-tuned my presenting skills. I’d definitely recommend doing something similar.

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