Making It Human: Putting the Heart into Corporate Skills-Based Volunteering Programmes

By Amanda Bowman   |   17 August 2023

We’re now at Week 3 in our series looking at the five themes that drive impact in Corporate Skills-Based Volunteering. Last week we reflected on how Corporate Volunteering Programme Managers could focus support in order to elevate participants’ experiences. This week, we’re considering the art of ‘Making it Human’.

Virtual Platforms: A Gateway to Inclusion

The shift to virtual platforms in skills-based volunteering has been a game-changer, providing opportunities for bringing a more diverse mix of participants into skills-based volunteering programmes. For some, the constraints that once limited engagement are eradicated, opening doors to an array of talents and perspectives. But to get the Best of Both Worlds, you need to consider both the benefits of scaling and inclusion as well as the risk that automation gets in the way of building relationships. Our research showed that although technology lays the foundation, it’s the human connections that are made that enable virtual skills-based volunteering to become a living experience. This is what transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The Power of Strong Partner Relationships

At the heart of effective skills-based volunteering initiatives lies a strong and genuine partnership between volunteers and the representatives of the organisations they’re supporting. These relationships aren’t just transactional; they’re bridges that fuel personal growth, shared insights, and a mutual commitment to positive change. The radar graph illustrates (with the turquoise line) the profound impact of strong partner relationships on leadership behaviours and competences, paving the way for holistic growth.


Social Connections: Beyond the Task

If the core of skills-based volunteering lies in the expertise shared with partner organisations, the true richness comes from the connections formed beyond the work. Social interactions spark reflection, exchange of ideas, and a sense of community that transcends project boundaries. Engaging with fellow participants enriches learning, expands horizons, and boosts engagement. When participants feel like part of a community, their engagement is stronger and the ripple effect extends far beyond the volunteering itself.

Navigating the Virtual Landscape

While in-person engagements naturally facilitate social connections, virtual programmes require intentional effort. Programme Managers play a vital role in creating opportunities for participants to connect, share, and reflect, whether in fully virtual or individual experiences.

Creating Impact through Human Connections

Technology may be the tool that facilitates a virtual skills-based volunteering experience, but it’s the relationships that are created that bring the programme to life. Crafting virtual programmes that prioritise strong partner relationships and social connections turns every participant into a catalyst for positive change. Those connections bridge the gap between technology and humanity, building connections that resonate, inspire, and transform.

If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of this series, click here. Or to read the full report, click here.