Top Tips

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

8 Practical Tips from Matchable

1. Look for opportunities to use your skills and experience that are both good for you and the organisation you're helping.

2. Always start with the need of the charity or non-profit - don't create more work for them!

3. Think about what you want to gain from the experience and focus your outreach to charities accordingly.

4. Don't overcommit - agree your objectives and scope upfront, and break this into bitesize chunks with clearly defined timeframes and/or outcomes.

5. Be realistic with how much time you have and how much you can achieve (particularly if you aren't sure how long you will be furloughed for). These organisations are relying on you. 

6. Be humble (don't be a saviour!). This is a relationship of equals. Just because they are  a charity doesn't mean that they don't already have access to the skills you are offering. 

7. Furlunteering is not just for coronavirus. The relationships you build now can continue past Covid-19.

8. From an employer’s perspective, furlunteering gives their furloughed staff an opportunity to develop and use their existing skills in a new context and in an experiential way (rather than in classroom training), practice being agile and creative (future of work skills!), keeps them engaged, broadens their network and helps them find a sense of purpose, while giving back to the community in a way that makes a real impact. 

With thanks to Matchable (matching companies and individuals ready to invest in their future with non-profits and impact startups looking to effect social change)

Further thoughts;

Think carefully about what you can commit. There is nothing worse than someone thinking you have got something in hand and then dropping the ball or creating a mess. You don’t want to be the person who offers to cook dinner and then leaves the kitchen like a bomb has hit it for someone else to clear up.

It’s worth asking yourself three questions:

1) What am I really great at? This could be anything from technical IT skills through to relationship skills and project management. Pick the things that you are confident you can do really well.

2) What do I love doing and am passionate about? When you’re a furlunteer in a new situation there will be different frustrations. You don’t have the extrinsic motivator of ‘well I need to earn a living’ to nudge you through those frustrations so pick something you actually enjoy and care about as that’s what keeps your commitment going.

3) What does the world need? Think about how your skills and interests can make the most difference. Most charities are operating on a shoestring and your gift of skills in the area that can make the most difference is a wonderful act of generosity. 

When people ask what you did in the coronavirus pandemic being able to think what you gave rather than what you lost is such a powerful, intentional choice.

For some giving time to your families and yourself to recharge may be the right thing. For others the opportunity to get involved to help others may be great for their mental health and perhaps resetting their future path. Whatever you do, if you enter it with a spirit of giving and generosity, with an open heart then the growth you will experience in these strange and unique times will be something you can look back on and be proud of.

(with thanks to Sacha Romanovitch)

Additional Tips;

1. Bring your best self - there are opportunities and needs for so many types of volunteers - from adding more 'hands' and capacity, to using a whole range of professional/personal skills - think about what you want to offer and what you can commit to - this is a good starting point for then finding the requests/needs of charities and community groups.

2. Find out more about the work of the charity - we know that the best partnerships are based on a shared investment in the social objectives.

3. Expect to support and to learn - charity teams are experts in delivering support, mostly based on good evidence and experience - taking the time to understand what/why they're doing will help your contribution be even more valuable.

(The combination of 1, 2 and 3 are about ensuring we're volunteering in a way that aligns with what's needed - where some rapid volunteering hasn't worked, is that the offers/activities haven't aligned with need, which becomes essentially wasteful)

4. Be sensitive. Charities are seeing a massive drop in the funding they receive (estimated at £10bn across the sector) at a time where demand for their work is spiking massively. They are determined, but also worried and stressed. Effective volunteering is vital but does require time/effort to get right, so as you're getting started, be sensitive to what the charities are dealing with and know that together you'll soon be doing vital work.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the relationships we have with our neighbours, our communities and how we support the most vulnerable. It's amazing that so many people are determined to invest in these and to help respond to this crisis. The way we do this is how we'll not only survive, but how we'll rebound from this crisis. These supportive relationships are vital, so thank you to all Furlunteers who are strengthening them.

With thanks to Dan Sutch, Director of Director of the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST)

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