FURLUNTEERING

Furlunteer: To give time or skills to a charity, whilst being furloughed by an employer.

Furlunteering is nothing more and nothing less than a timely idea. It is not an “organisation”, “scheme” or “initiative”. 

Let's use these hastags to help people connect; #iFurlunteer #Furlunteer #Furlunteering

Charities, employers and agencies are encouraged to unleash this into the mainstream and promote furlunteering to their stakeholders and networks.

Here are some practical tips and advice.

1. Follow 'best practice' advice around volunteering generally - looking after yourself and those you're working/volunteering with.


2. Where possible link in with existing schemes - they're set up to manage this process and have strong links to the best placed charities/community groups, or visit the Do-it website.

(with thanks to Dan Sutch of CAST)

This is not for everyone, as the immediate needs of health, safety, finance and sustainability are front of mind for furloughed employees as well as charities, many of which are under tremendous strain.

However, there certainly is some capacity as well as some needs that can be matched during this time.  Furlunteering is a great ‘of the moment’ example of Skills Based Volunteering (SBV).

Below are a few things to think about to make sure the opportunity for all parties is maximised:

Approach

First and foremost, patience and understanding is what is needed most.  Kindness is COVID’s most important innovation.

Look at this time to develop and/or strengthen a skill either through a new application or new relationship. And it just feels good to be helfpul.

Over-communicate, particularly in the beginning.   The new connection and friendship that is developed in Furlunteeering will often be the very best outcome. 


Flexibility above all else; we are in a fluid time just now.

You are both experts in your field.  Practice openness and curiosity vs. Defensiveness 


While this is new territory, most successful SBV projects are those that are not ‘replacing’ ongoing charity operations but truly bringing in a new skill and perspective. 


Ideally, this connection will leave a lasting impact on the charity and its mission


Good intentions are not enough to make it work. Charities and the Experteer should feel permission to say ‘not exactly what we were looking for’ or ‘not really my field’.  At very least a new connection was made.  

Matching


The most important part of Furlunteering is optimising the match between need and skill.

Recognise that the same terms, such as Impact or Project, in a private sector business and at charity can often mean very different things.  Invest time up front to make sure that both parties understand what is needed, Share plainly and honestly. Invest time up front to explore the need and the skills


Skills can be area based; here is a list: marketing, branding, PR, fundraising, sponsorships, operations, legal, people. program, IT, measurement and evaluation, reporting, and finance/accounting


Or skills can be much more application based, such Excel, Powerpoint/Keynote, Quickbooks, Salesforce or Photoshop….or in the parlance of the day: Zoom, Google Docs, Hangouts

Be realistic about the time required.  Define the project with an estimated hours (1 hour or 1 week) and outcomes.  e.g. I would like to learn how to set up and manage a Zoom meeting or We would like to review and update our contracts. Best to start small or as a first phase which can be built upon as you go.  See if it is working - then take on more


Project Management


The charity needs a sponsor to run the relationship. Who is responsible? And does this person have what they need in terms of both time and organisational knowledge. While the project can impact many at the charity,  ideally, the sponsor is one person as the lead.

The charity will need to invest quite a bit of time and both parties need to be realistic about the time required.  Very few SBV projects have a ‘auto-pilot’ quality about them. If either party can’t invest this time, then best not to begin


Recognize that the furloughed employee does not have the infrastructure and support from their employer - so do they have all they need to accomplish this task without that support?


Have fun - build in some time for personal connection

(with thanks to Stephen Greene CBE, CEO of RockCorps)

See useful links here​.

#iFurlunteer #Furlunteer #Furlunteering