My next assignment with the Corporate Institute is another challenge. Designing a three-module e-course in Skills-based volunteering is all about the new. New abilities, new information, new concepts.
What? Skills-based volunteering, as defined by the Points of Light, is an innovative approach that leverages the skills, experience, talents and education of volunteers and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. Simple and yet brilliant!
Although this type of volunteering practice is rapidly gaining popularity, many have never heard of it. But is this really so? Have you ever heard of the term “pro-bono”?
Pro-bono is actually a type of skills-based volunteering and provides the organization with specific skills and expertise it would otherwise have to pay for. Nonetheless, I will focus on the broader picture.
Although the When question is more complex and intrinsic, I will oversimplify by answering: whenever the need for specialized services is identified, a coordinating organization takes the lead, partners are identified and a strategic methodological approach is set up (for example the Strategic Action for Volunteer Engagement Program).
How an organization can engage skills-based volunteers is not an easy question, but more simple than others think.
While reading insightful case studies compiled by various organizations (including Points of Light, link) I thought of my home country and its realities.
Moldcell JCS., a Moldovan mobile communication company, and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited both joined the United Nations Global Compact initiative, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles, including ethics and corporate responsibility. Moldcell joined in 2006. Deloitte – in 2000. Nevertheless this is where the similarities end in terms of corporate employee volunteering scale and impact and skills-based volunteering specifically.
It is noteworthy that Moldcell is one of Moldova’s business leaders: an active and widely recognized corporate player, especially when it comes to branding and marketing. In terms of CSR, it is also an alpha in providing the basics: sponsorships, some employee engagement (although very limited and early) and partnerships around focus area civic engagement. No skills-based volunteering.
Knowing that there is a great demand on the community-side, and assuming that there is an interest and understanding of benefits on the company and employee-sides, Moldcell could engage in skills-based volunteering in numerous way: Moldcell employees could provide web design services for local nonprofits that have poor websites (believe me, there are many), provide design support or technology solutions for others. The possibilities are endless.
Due to poor CSR culture, focus on main business operations and viewing volunteering as complimentary, lack of knowledge and expertise, many businesses chose the easiest way of operating on the market and civically engaging to a minimum. The society does not require it either. I believe it will change and it is only a matter of time.
I am very hopeful that today’s corporate leaders in Moldova consider investing in their future by developing innovative civic engagement approaches. Skills-based volunteering is one of them!