Maximising Impact in Skills-Based Corporate Volunteering: The Power of the Right Partner and Appropriate Skills Match
By Amanda Bowman | 3 August 2023
The recent launch of our Best of Both Worlds Report showed how Programme Managers can maximise the impact of virtual and hybrid skills-based volunteering programmes. It describes Ten Impact Drivers that you can focus on to help you harvest the hybrid opportunity of skills-based volunteering. But because no one remembers ten of anything, we’ve broken them down into five theme areas. When you focus on these themes, you can make your skills-based volunteering experiences as impactful as possible.Over the next five weeks, we’ll provide some detail on each of these themes. This week we’re kicking off with “Right Partner, Right Project” as the journey towards maximising impact begins with the right partners and skills matches – two pivotal levers that can make all the difference.
Our research reveals a powerful insight – that there is a connection between the partner’s genuine need and the employee’s skills. This dynamic significantly influences participants’ experiences, driving impact across various areas, such as breadth and depth of learning, business impact, responsible leadership, and connection to purpose.
To illustrate the difference this can make, when a participant feels their skills directly address a partner’s authentic needs, the sense of purpose is magnified. Based on our findings, a remarkable 72% of individuals reported a stronger connection to purpose when they perceived that there was a genuine need for their skills. This compared to just 42% among those who didn’t feel their skills were needed. This insight underscores the importance of genuine partnerships where programme managers engage in meaningful conversations with partners to truly understand their challenges and requirements and establish a clear and detailed project brief. Without this, the impact of the project experience will be limited and it risks turning the experience into a mere exercise.
Matching participants’ skills with the requirements of the partner and project is another pivotal factor that shapes the impact of skills-based corporate volunteering. This alignment has ripple effects across three key areas: responsible leadership, employee engagement and connection to purpose.
Our research graphically illustrates the impact of a well-matched skills assignment on responsible leadership behaviour. Participants who believe their skills fit the task at hand are more likely to engage various stakeholders and make informed decisions. The data also suggests they are more inspired to advocate for positive change within their company and become committed to championing good.
Best practice in crafting the ideal skills match would include encouraging partners to join the participant selection process to ensure a better fit between skills and needs, as well as using robust criteria to guide the selection process; matching participants with projects that align with their capabilities.
As skills-based volunteering programmes evolve, we’ve seen that success hinges on authentic partnerships and skillful matchmaking. The “Right Partner, Right Project” paradigm not only amplifies a sense of purpose felt by corporate volunteer programme participants, but also fuels responsible leadership and tangible business outcomes. As Corporate Volunteering Programme Managers, your strategic efforts in these areas can pave the way for transformative volunteer experiences that drive positive change within and beyond the workplace.
Look out for our next exploration into the themes that make for impactful skills-based volunteering next week.