Volunteer projects ‘better for skills development than another training course’


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Half of employees want to use their professional skills on volunteer projects, which could benefit businesses by providing an opportunity for learning and development.

Of the 21% of employees who already lend their work skills to helping out good causes, 82% say it develops their work and skills knowledge, and 79% agree their employer also benefits from their volunteer work.

However, many more would like to volunteer their professional time and skills to helping out a charity or other not-for-profit causes, but 69% struggle to find the time to do so and 38% need further guidance from their employer.

Ed Mayo, CEO of Pilotlight – an organisation that connects businesses with charities – suggested that businesses can gain from enabling staff to undertake more voluntary work, as it can also act as an opportunity for professional development.

Pilotlight has issued a rallying call for employers to take notice of employees’ willingness to undertake volunteer work and the increase in volunteering seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, by widening their corprorate volunteering programmes.

“A few hours a month can do wonders for employee morale and for the charities they support. It does need some care to do it well but the good news is that, for personal and professional development, it is better by far than sending your staff on another training course,” said Mayo.

Three-quarters of those who responded to a Pilotlight-commissioned survey of more than 2,000 workers agree that employers should be supportive of their staff volunteering. This is especially true of younger employees – 81% in the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age brackets agree that businesses should support voluntary work.

Two-thirds say organisations have a “moral duty” to help their communities and wider society through support for volunteering.

Charities themselves are also open to the idea of corporate volunteering programmes, especially small charities – 69% of which were looking out for “pro bono” skills development opportunities.

Paul Drechsler CBE, chair of business network London Firs, commented: “Pro bono skills giving is good for business and good for society and all employers should be doing it, especially now when charities need support more than ever.

“There has never been such a great opportunity for employees to volunteer and make a really big difference, learn and show what a great force for good their organisation and business can be. This is a huge opportunity for achievement, satisfaction and pride for a small investment of time.”

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