Volunteers’ Week – Utilising professional skills and expertise to maximise impact

Volunteers’ Week provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the many ways in which people give their time to support causes that they are passionate about. ELBA’s Connect Team draw on the professional skills and expertise of employee volunteers to build the capacity of east London based community organisations. We have chosen to mark Volunteers’ Week by highlighting some of the amazing ways in which volunteers have used their professional skills to support local community leaders.

Become a trustee – ELBA’s BoardBuilders programme places employees of our partner companies as trustees at local community organisations. Trustees have independent control over, and legal responsibility for, a charity’s management and administration. They play a very important role and are almost always acting in a voluntary capacity. All registered charities are required to have a minimum of three trustees but many organisations find board recruitment extremely challenging. Business professionals who can bring a range of skills and expertise are highly sought after.

Becoming a trustee is one of the most valuable ways in which you can volunteer your time. It is also incredibly rewarding. A strong, diverse board of trustees can have a profound impact on the fortunes of a charity. We spoke to Chris Watson, Partner at CMS and Chair of the Board of Trustees at ELBA, and Jeff O’Brien, Partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell London, and Trustee at Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, to hear about their experience of joining a charity board.

Coach a community leader – Leaders in Partnership is a community coaching programme designed to strengthen the leadership of the third sector. By creating 1:1 coaching-style relationships between senior employees and their third sector peers, Leaders in Partnership supports the development of community leaders and their organisations, allowing participants to explore professional challenges and identify solutions.

ELBA collaborated with Morgan Stanley’s Women’s Business Alliance over a period of four years to deliver the Emerging Women Leaders programme which champions the development of female leadership in the public and third sectors. ELBA matched a total of 65 partnerships, with 50 volunteers matched to female leaders from community organisations, and 15 matched to senior staff from Tower Hamlets Council. You can learn more about the Emerging Women Leaders Programme by reading our impact report. ELBA are now delighted to be working with Societe Generale to deliver this year’s programme with 17 community leaders paired with coaches.

Deliver an ELBA Toolkit Session – Drawing on the expertise of business professionals, the ELBA Toolkit provides volunteers with the opportunity to deliver a half day training session, sharing their knowledge and skills with a selection of local charities. Volunteers from ELBA’s business supporters have facilitated a range of different workshops covering topics such as “Writing Clearly and With Impact”, “Practical Ways to Enhance Your Board’s Effectiveness” and “Building an Inclusive Culture for Your Workforce”.

Alison McBurney, Senior Learning Manager at Linklaters has been a particularly outstanding contributor to the Toolkit series, delivering a programme of activity entitled “Learning From Leaders” where she shared her knowledge of Learning and Development tools and techniques. Workshops entitled ‘Leadership & Change Management’, ‘The Psychological Impact of Working in Isolation’ and ‘Mind Hacks for Difficult Conversations’ have given a selection of community organisations the opportunity to develop skills and enhance their ability to lead their organisations, particularly through this difficult lockdown period. We spoke to Ali to hear her thoughts on volunteering with ELBA.

There are many ways in which you can give your time to support the community but we would urge you to consider how utilising your skills and expertise can help you to create the greatest possible impact. If you are interested in finding out more about ELBA’s professional business skills volunteering opportunities then please contact jonathan.tait@elba-1.org.uk.

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