How to become a skills-based volunteer

Did you know that you can volunteer by sharing your expertise? Find out more about skills-based volunteering, the difference it can make and how to get started.

On this page

What is a skills-based volunteer?
Why do charities need skills-based volunteers?
Why should I volunteer?
How to get started

What is a skills-based volunteer?

A skills-based volunteer is an experienced professional who volunteers to share their skills with a good cause for a specific project or an ongoing role. The volunteer’s expertise could include a wide range of specialisms such as HR, digital, finance or marketing - areas which are generally under-resourced in the charity sector. Types of voluntary roles include Social Media Manager, Fundraiser, Website Designer or Recruitment Adviser. 

Why do charities need skills-based volunteers? 

Skills-based volunteers can make a huge difference to good causes, adding capacity, growing capability and helping them to innovate. Many charities are quite small and staff are often generalists, so the input of volunteers with several years of experience in a specialism can make a real impact. Skills-based volunteers can bring in expertise to back office functions that are crucial to the charity's work but are seldom well resourced. In these ways, volunteers can make an immediate impact and add immense value to charities. 

Why should I volunteer?

There are a number of reasons why you should volunteer: 

  • Support a cause that you believe in - Volunteering is a great way to support a cause that is close to your heart. Whether you want to help tackle the climate crisis, support marginalised groups or do something within your local community, you will find an organisation in need of your expertise. 
  • Make a difference - Your professional skills could make a real difference, particularly to small charities that are often overstretched and under-resourced. The skills that you use in your day job are incredibly valuable and charities will be grateful for your expertise and guidance. 
  • Personal and professional development - Volunteering is a good opportunity to broaden your experience, meet new people and develop skills such as leadership and influencing. You will be using your expertise in a new environment, facing fresh challenges and learning how to deal with different situations - all of which will benefit you in your personal and professional life. 
  • A sense of meaning and purpose - Being part of a cause and acting in solidarity with others can bring a sense of belonging and community. Being involved in something bigger than yourself can help to give your life greater meaning and purpose. 
  • Volunteering is good for you - Volunteering is good for your overall well-being. Serving others and making a difference can be really rewarding and make you happier in a more holistic way. 
  • The world needs you! - The world is facing a lot of significant challenges right now and needs all of us to step up and help. By working together, sharing skills and expertise, we will create a thriving, fair and sustainable society. 

How to get started

  • Know your skill set - Identify how you could contribute to a good cause. Do you have a head for figures, can you build a website from scratch or are you an HR expert? Think about your skill set and identify the different ways that you could potentially support a charity.  
  • Choose your cause - Whether you have been personally affected by an issue such as mental health or feel strongly about a particular cause such as human rights, this is your chance to choose something that really excites you. 
  • Identify the right type of role - Be clear about what you would like to do and realistic about how much time you can commit to a role. It is always worth having a conversation with your chosen charity as there may be flexibility with the role. As an expert in your field, you may even have a suggestion on how they could approach things differently. However, remember that charities are often tight on resources and make sure that you don’t over promise! 
  • Look through our website - Reach is the leading skills-based volunteering charity in the UK and we have hundreds of opportunities available on our online platform. If you have 3 years practical and professional experience in one of our skills areas, you can get started for free by joining our community. 

What is the voluntary sector?

What is the voluntary sector? How is different from the private/commercial sector? Our guide for volunteers and trustees that are new to the sector or who need a refresh.

Become a trustee

What is a trustee? This guide is a useful introduction into the role of a trustee, trustees' role in a charity and what you might need to become one.

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