Skills-Based Volunteering Benefits Companies, Nonprofits and Employees

Corporate volunteerism is a common component of many company’s corporate social responsibility programs.  One of the most common forms of corporate volunteerism is skills-based volunteering (SBV), a service by individuals or groups that capitalizes on core business skills, experience or education to help nonprofits build and sustain their capacity.   With 28% of U.S. adults having volunteered in the past year, understanding these volunteers’ professional expertise and their lifestyle activities can help nonprofits and businesses match competencies in a more effective, mutually-beneficial way.

Because SBV utilizes an employee’s unique skill set, all types of businesses can participate. Nearly two thirds of volunteers (62%) are employed full-time or part-time and they are more likely than the average U.S. adult to be employed in education, training and library (45% more likely), community/social services or legal (44% more likely), or arts, design, entertainment, sports and media (29% more likely).

Skills Based Volunteering

Volunteers in these professions can help nonprofits in various ways.  Teachers, instructors and librarians can help literacy and education nonprofits set curricula or train employees who will be tutoring or aiding youth in other ways. Community and social service employees can help plan local events with a trained eye to the community’s specific needs.  Volunteers who work in the legal field can provide pro bono support to help nonprofits with incorporation papers and other legal matters.  Those who work in arts, design, entertainment, sports or media can help design websites and marketing materials, provide entertainment for local events and seek media coverage for nonprofits.

Passions don’t always align with careers, so analyzing other activities volunteers have engaged in can introduce new areas of opportunity.  Volunteers are more likely than the average adult to have taken part in yoga-pilates (68% more likely), sewing-crafts (47% more likely), photography (45% more likely) and gardening (22% more likely).

Volunteers with experience in yoga-pilates can teach others about health and wellness as well as lead classes.  Those with sewing-crafts experience can create homemade items for donation to local charities or hospitals.  Volunteers with photography skills can take headshots for nonprofit employees or photograph fundraisers and those who are passionate about gardening can help with beautification projects in the communities in which they live and work.

An area of SBV that is becoming more popular is virtual volunteering.  By using the power of the Internet, nonprofits can utilize volunteers who have experience in social networking to set up social media accounts and profiles for their organizations.  Three in four volunteers have visited a social networking site in the past month with 35% spending at least an hour a day on social sites.  These avid social networkers can also help spread awareness for nonprofits by posting or sharing information from their personal accounts.  Compared to U.S. adults, volunteers are 28% more likely to post a website link on a social networking site, 26% more likely to follow or become a fan of something and 25% more likely to post that they “like” something.

Skills-based volunteers leverage the knowledge they possess to help organizations by providing tools for success rather than just monetary donations.  While corporate volunteerism greatly benefits the nonprofits they serve, the impact doesn’t stop there; employees and businesses also gain an advantage.  For employees, volunteerism may play an important part in getting a leg up on the competition when applying for jobs, as well as building skills to advance professionally.*  It also increases employee engagement which helps reduce employee turnover**, a benefit to both employees and businesses.  Volunteerism also plays a role in helping businesses to attract, retain and develop skilled talent.* Whether it’s one day a year, holiday focused or year round, corporate volunteerism can make a substantial impact.

For more information about how Nielsen is making an uncommon impact in the communities we serve, visit the Nielsen Global Responsibility Report.

Source: Nielsen Scarborough 2015 USA+ Release 2

Volunteers: Adults 18+ who have done volunteer work in the past year

*2016 Deloitte Impact Survey: Building leadership skills through volunteerism

**The Business Case for Employee Volunteer & Skills Giving Programs




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