Volunteering: Opportunities and Benefits (Part 1 of 2)
Vicky Andrew, LSCA President, outlines some new opportunities for volunteering and ways that you can give something back.
Here in London, we are encouraging members to come forward, to assist with delivering our various initiatives. Why might you want to consider doing this?
The benefits of volunteering can be roughly divided into three groups: purely altruistic, enhancing your career, and social/psychological. Speaking as a volunteer myself, I think I can tick most of the benefits listed in the following paragraphs!
There are also benefits for employers who encourage their staff to volunteer.
Altruistic Reasons for Volunteering
- To ‘give something back’ to a profession which has enhanced our lives,
- To have influence over the quality of local events,
- To help out an existing volunteer,
- To assist in enhancing the profile and outreach of the profession so as to attract the best people into chartered accountancy,
- To give others the benefit of our expertise and experience,
In short, to make a difference.
Career Benefits for Volunteers
- Developing and using skills and knowledge that we do not use in our “day jobs”. For me, these have included leadership, chairing, team-working, presenting and I.T.
- Enhancing our CVs and improving our future employment or business prospects,
- Improving our own networks, by connecting with people in our own and other sectors and gaining exposure to senior people within the profession, business and government,
- Having a pool of fellow professionals with whom we can exchange tips on technical and management issues.
Social and Mental Health Benefits for Volunteers
- Having a chance to socialise, to meet new people and make new friends, especially from different backgrounds,
- Becoming involved in the wider community,
- Having a more interesting life; spending quality time and having a focus, away from work and domestic chores,
- Gaining confidence and self-esteem; feeling valued and part of a team; knowing that you are making a difference.
Employer Benefits of Staff Volunteering
There are times when I have encountered resistance from employers to allowing their staff (particularly our younger members and students) paid time away from their work to take part in volunteering activities. But the benefits for employers are so considerable, we can usually bring them on board.
Encouraging volunteering can be a way of attracting and retaining staff. Applicants believe that if an organisation contributes to the community, it is likely to be a good employer.
Research has shown that employee volunteers are more likely to feel loyal towards their company, satisfied with their employer, and rate their corporate culture as positive. In addition, employee volunteers are enthusiastic, motivated and engaged, leading to reduced sick leave and higher productivity.
Both staff and their managers feel that volunteering enhances their skills, particularly teamwork, leadership and communication, as well as diversity awareness.
Volunteering by staff can showcase an organisation and its industry sector to parts of the community which may otherwise be unreached by recruitment activities, thus encouraging social mobility.
Finally, encouraging staff volunteering can strengthen an organisation’s brand. Research has shown that corporate social responsibility is a growing factor in both consumer and B2B spending choices.
There are so many ways to get involved by volunteering with ICAEW and the London Society of Chartered Accountants. If this article has got you thinking, please do not hesitate to contact me for a no-obligation chat. We really do have something for everyone!
Vicky Andrew - LSCA President at firstname.lastname@example.org