The holidays are a reminder to come together, serve, and celebrate with those around us. It can also be an overwhelming time with many options for gift-giving. Dare to try a different method of sharing goodness this year? Veer away from the shopping centres and log off from the computer. This holiday season donate your technical expertise to small charities and non-for-profit organisations that lack the permanent staff or technical know-how.
How Does This Benefit Me?
That is a fair question. There are number of benefits to giving your time to a charity. Volunteering allows you to participate in an intangible good that is happening in your community. The only thing required to get access are the skills you already have, a smile and a ‘can-do’ attitude. Your pre-existing expertise and skills can be applied in a new way; teaching you something new in the process. The advisory role does wonders for one’s self-confidence. Not only that, you get become part of a vibrant, friendly group of people committed to making a real difference.
What Skills Can I Bring to a Charity?
You can get involved quite easily as we have done the leg-work already! Using your professional skills for community service is straight-forward. You can opt for a task that be completed virtually, such as managing a charity’s social media account, or using your marketing chops to convince people over the phone to donate for the annual soup kitchen.
Start with the Marie Curie Organisation which provides care and support for those with terminal illnesses. They require volunteers in the following roles:
- Contracts Advisor: Are you a barrister or legal aid by trade? The organisation requires legal experts to point out issues in contracts that are being drawn up. Any suggestions would then be followed up with the charity’s own lawyer. This input will save valuable time for all parties involved.
- Business Analyst: Marie Curie’s team requires professionals with business acumen to help sharpen their planning and development. Such associations can be short-term with the volunteer providing advice over the phone for a particular project.
- Marie Curie Helper: Helpers at Marie Curie spend time with the terminally ill in their homes for three hours on a weekly basis. They offer companionship by helping with simple activities such as reading, and running trips to the grocery stores. This role requires detailed training and each volunteer receives support throughout their assignment. Good listeners should apply here!
- Complementary Therapist: Marie Curie’s hospices offer a variety of treatments to their carers and patients. If you are a qualified therapist in massage, reiki, acupuncture, hypnotherapy or reflexology, this volunteer gig is meant for you! They require all therapists -cum-volunteers to be members of the relevant professional associations and have insurance. In addition, every therapist receives a detailed orientation before beginning their sessions at the hospice.
In addition to these volunteer-based roles, you can search for additional opportunities to help out via this list on the website. It has a filtered-search option, so you can narrow down the list to a region, category of service or even by specific keywords.
Age UK’s tagline is ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’. It is a nation-wide charity focused on supporting people 50 and above grow older with dignity. Out of the many volunteer roles they are on the look out for, the following demand some professional knowledge:
- IT Project Volunteer: If you sign up for this you will working with members, teaching them how to use the internet, communicate via emails and use devices such as iPads.
- Office Volunteer: If you can photocopy with one eye closed, sign up for this. Age UK requires general office work from their volunteers, including filing, mail duty, administrative tasks and even some data entry.
The Small Charities Coalition has a matching service that pairs individuals with local charities struggling with a particular challenge. The opportunities vary from skills sharing to even mentoring depending on the problem being tackled.
Crisis UK, the nation-wide charity for the homeless, is actively seeking out IT Activity Leaders to run their internet cafes at their seasonal Christmas centres. IT support consists of helping visitors search for jobs, connect with loved ones online or just watch their favourite show on the pc. If managing hardware and software is familiar territory, they require IT troubleshooters to keep the computers running until the new year.
Though hardly an exhaustive list, there are plenty of options for those looking to give the gift their time and skills this winter. Encourage your friends and colleagues to take part with you. This can be the start of a feel-good tradition for years to come!