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November 14, 2014

Beyond the Boardroom - Building business leaders through skilled volunteering

As part of the 2014 Trustees’ Week, our sister company, Career Volunteer hosted a Beyond the Boardroom breakfast session this week, championing the value of employer supported skilled volunteering and trusteeships for both the charity sector, for businesses and society at large. 

Hosted by Legal & General, it brought together delegates from the corporate and charity sectors, complimented by an impressive and charismatic panel of speakers.

"We want to see companies regard skilled volunteering as an integral part of peoples' learning and development." - David Lale, Founder of Career Volunteer

As David Lale, Founder of Career Volunteer and Charity People, Chair of neonatal charity Tiny Tickers and a Director of the Association of Volunteer Managers pointed out, the key word is 'skilled' as opposed to volunteering that is just an "easy to sell to the boss.bonding, team building day out for staff."  Elaborating on the ethos of Career Volunteer, he continues: "we want to see companies regard skilled volunteering, as Legal and General (L&G) do, as an integral part of peoples' learning and development as well as an altruistic desire to positively impact the organisations' key local communities."

"[It's a] win, win, win situation: a win for the individual, a win for their organisation and a win for the charity.  As a trustee you are like a non-executive director; you see everything." - John Stewart Chair of Legal & General

 

It is a common perception that the benefits of skilled volunteering are more readily apparent in the case of the charitable organisation compared to the value for businesses involved and the individual.  However, John Stewart, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and Chair at Legal & General asserted that being a trustee of a charity is a "win, win, win situation: a win for the individual, a win for their organisation and a win for the charity.  As a trustee you are like a non-executive director; you see everything."  

Graham Precey, Head of CSR & Ethics at L&G echoed this "win, win, win."  Working with Career Volunteer from its inception, he has seen first hand the development of the executives involved in Career Volunteer's SMaRT Programme.  After separating data from L&G executives who volunteer on boards of charities and comparing them to their peers, the findings were compelling.  He noted that the board members "make more informed decisions, have an increased feeling of well being and are more engaged." Considering L&G's existing employee engagement figures of c.80%, this is a testament to the power of such programmes.

"Board members make  more informed decisions."  Graham Precey, Head of CSR & Ethics at L&G

 

Graham noted that one of the things that came out of a coffee shop conversation at the inception of the L&G programme was that "the third sector is the greatest problem solver.it recognises a problem and says 'hey, we can fix that' and others join in."  Equally, due to the competitive nature of capitalist economics, "companies have incredible problem solvers." 

He continued to say that as a company involved in life cover, pensions and mortgages for instance, 

"We want to understand issues better.  If we can do that we can problem solve better.  It's research and development in its purest form." - Graham Precey

 "we want to understand these issues better.  If we can do that we can problem solve better.  It's research and development in its purest form."

Anchoring the speech roster was David Huse, whose list of credentials including an OBE, would give any journalist RSI, including former Head of London Ambassador Volunteer Programme, Olympics 2012 and former Sales Director of both Heinz and Procter & Gamble.

Following on from some of the issues raised by David Lale around managing skilled volunteers, David Huse, who built a volunteer network of around 70,000 people which was the driving force behind the success of the delivery of London 2012 Olympic Games, explained how such a huge operation can be successfully achieved.  The underlying theme was "love your volunteers."  The two-way exchange of "transferable skills.[is])vital" and this is achieved by defining and "establishing a framework that makes clear what the roles and responsibilities are.[and] what is expected."

"Love your volunteers over-communicate" - David Huse OBE, former Head of London Ambassador Volunteer Programme, Olympics 2012

He also asserted that "over communication" with your volunteer base is crucial.  He advises his managers "not to do what we do in the corporate sector; choosing which emails to answer and which to ignore" as that will result in you losing volunteers hand over fist.  The constant engagement is fundamental in maintaining the feeling of value to the individual.

This communication is also vital for corporates who have CSR programmes with employees engaged in skilled volunteering or trustee programmes.  On a regular basis, John Stewart brings together the senior executives on the SMaRT programme in L&G resulting in "people from different areas of the business who would ordinarily never meet or speak are now sharing with each other; almost peer reviewing one another and sharing information in new ways."

Collectively yet distinctively, the speakers each echoed that the value of structured, skilled volunteering programmes within businesses is palpably undeniable for the charity, the individual and the business.  A fitting tribute, we believe, to Trustees' Week.

We have plenty more interesting events and commentaries from our partners and knowledgeable contributors - get involved via our LinkedIn group, on Twitter and our blog to get the latest!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 



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