Skills-Based Volunteerism

When my family came to the United States, we were at the mercy of incredibly kind and generous strangers. They helped us, my two siblings and parents, to find shelter and clothing, to start our new lives. It was my first memorable experience, as a recipient of a nonprofit program. I didn’t really understand what was going on, but over the next decades plus, I learned about volunteering through action. as a Brownie and Girl Scout, we collected canned goods for the local food bank. I participated in coat drives, to donate to local shelters. Entering the workforce, I was introduced to Giving through United Way programs, coordinated a partnership with my employer and Habitat for Humanity.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I was intimidated with all that surrounded me, the beautiful people, the fancy cars, the hustle and bustle of tourists brushing past me. I began to research volunteering opportunities that allowed me to give back in my specific professional niche, executive leadership development. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I discovered there existed a nonprofit organization whose mission was to create teams of professionals to work on approved grants awarded to nonprofits! This was my first introduction to skills-based volunteering.

So what is it, this skills-based approach to giving back? It’s exactly what the term implies. As the volunteer, you give your time, donating your specific professional skills set to an organization. For example, if your background is in marketing, you donate time creating a media packet or elevator pitch. As a web designer, you donate time to revamp the donate page for the nonprofit’s website. As an HR specialist, you assist in creating job descriptions that can be used to recruit volunteers or employees.

In the world of nonprofits, you can give back in three ways: Time, Talent, and Treasure. Skills-based volunteering checks off the first two Ts, time and talent. Your talent is donated in a way that is often not available through paid services. So many nonprofits operate with such restricted budgets, it’s not uncommon for them to often ‘wing it’ for much needed services.

The nonprofit I worked with in Los Angeles does not currently exist in Houston, but it doesn’t mean you can’t offer skills-based volunteer services to organizations in need here. Whether it be for yourself, or for a group of people, any nonprofit would be excited and grateful to receive this type of ‘donation.’

If you’d like to learn more about skills-based volunteering, send me an email. I’d love to share with you the great opportunities this offers for everyone involved!