Volunteering

What is Skills-Based Volunteering?

Female doctor with grey hair sitting behind her desk wearing a laboratory coat

Skills-based volunteering is a type of volunteering that encourages individuals to volunteer their skills to offer help. Skills-based volunteering has grown tremendously in the past few years as more and more people are looking for growth opportunities with their jobs.

Services range from a day of teaching, building, doctoring, or engineering for groups in need. As the demand and interest for skills-based volunteering have grown, more organizations have been formed to offer these opportunities. People can find these opportunities abroad or locally.

Many benefits come from skills-based volunteering. Individuals can take a break from their typical day-to-day life and gain new experiences in a different environment.

It is an excellent opportunity for growth by learning new things and broadening one’s mind to what is needed locally or in other places of the world. A trip can be a great way for people to increase their global awareness and help those in need. In addition, people can meet new, like-minded people and make connections along the way.

Skills-based volunteering is an opportunity for individuals to get out of their comfort zone in a new environment without making a huge life change. Volunteers usually do not have to live away from home as they would with other volunteering types. Still, some organizations even provide food and lodging if the volunteer is far from home.

Benefits of Skills-Based Volunteering

Several benefits can come from doing skills-based volunteering. Here are a few examples of the benefits people have experienced:

1. You’re making a difference.

2. You’re helping others and giving back to the community.

3. You can make new friendships.

4. You can develop new skills and hobbies.

5. You can learn new things about yourself.

6. You might get paid for your work (either a salary or paid per hour).

7. You can develop a long-lasting relationship with the organization you are volunteering with, which could lead to a job or getting hired as a regular volunteer.

8. You can make a name for yourself in your field.

9. It lets you get paid for doing something you already want to do.

10. You can combine skills-based volunteering with paid work, like internships.

11. You can put your skills to use and feel good about it.

12. You can travel, make friends, give back to the community, and get paid while doing it.

13. The volunteer services can provide volunteers with a nice change of pace from their ordinary routine that helps them recharge from engaging in other activities.

14. There are many, many more benefits.

How Does Skills-Based Volunteering Work?

To learn about skills-based volunteering, you should first know a bit of how volunteer organizations work. Then you’ll understand the difference between programs for volunteers and programs for paid staff and volunteers.

There are several ways to volunteer at an organization. You can be a paid staff member who volunteers what you already get paid to do. You can be a volunteer who doesn’t get paid.

You’ll learn more about the difference between programs for volunteers and programs for paid staff in this next section.

A skills-based volunteer is one of two types: In-house or off-site.

In-House Skills-Based Volunteering

An in-house skills-based volunteer is a person who volunteers his or her services for free to the organization he or she is already employed by. To do this, the volunteer needs to make a deal with his or her employer, saying that they will have certain hours of work taken off of their weekly time sheet and replaced with time sheets showing them working for the organization.

The employer then pays them per hour instead of paying them salary. An in-house skills-based volunteer might also be known as a regular volunteer if they are volunteering the same skill set that they feel they are paid for already.

Off-Site Skills-Based Volunteering

An off-site skills-based volunteer has a different job than the one he or she is volunteering for. For example, an accountant could volunteer their time as an accountant for a charity.

It can also be referred to as a “side-job” if you have two jobs, volunteer and paid work, or it can be referred to as moonlighting if you have more than two jobs.

Usually, volunteers do this out of the goodness of their hearts and because they love to help people. Some charities will reimburse volunteers for gas and other materials, but not many.

How to Find Skills-Based Volunteering Opportunities

The best way to find skills-based volunteering opportunities is by going online and looking for volunteer organizations in your area that need the skills you have.

You could also join an organization to get experience and get a job there if they like your work. You can also contact schools, see what kind of a job they offer, or offer students opportunities to volunteer for experience or credit.

You can also use an intermediary organization specializing in matching people up with things they need help with. Several websites will allow you to search for opportunities depending on your area or interest.

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