5 everyday work skills you have that translate perfectly to volunteering

FullSizeRender[40] copy 2

This week is National Volunteer Week—an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges.

Volunteers lend their time, voice, and talents to doing good on a daily basis, but trust us—there’s no magical set of skills you need to be a fantastic volunteer. In fact, many things that you’re already doing in your day-to-day life and careers are great fits for needs at nonprofit organizations. Here are five skills that might be commonplace to you—but can have a huge impact on the operations of a nonprofit and its ability to perform its mission:

1. Knowledge of office software and processes
In your school and career life, you may be using products to organize, create, execute, and document your everyday: sorting sheets in Excel, creating mail merges in Word, setting up calendar invites in Outlook, and making sure your OneDrive is set up properly. These may seem like easy tasks to many of us, but many nonprofits struggle to navigate many of these programs due to a lack of time or knowledge.

Of course, in most nonprofits the mission is not to execute the best mail merge or pull the best reports—it’s to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, offering educational resources, and so on. However, even though the funds raised by nonprofit organizations go back to the community, they’re still run like businesses and have the same office needs as for-profit companies. Additionally, many nonprofit employees have training in counseling, mentorship, and substance abuse—and basic office training isn’t always a part of that knowledge base.
Even a few hours of training with a nonprofit employee can be a huge help, and your assistance means they have a few hours to help their clients in the community. They would be grateful for some coaching. With Apparo IT Coaching, the time commitment is as little as one hour per month.

2. Marketing and communications
Similar to office support, many nonprofit organizations need assistance with marketing and communications tasks, specifically related to all things digital and data-oriented. If you know how to run analytics for social media, or know how to create reports on website visits and traffic, your local nonprofit most likely has a list of tasks you can assist them with. Or, if you’re on the strategic and creative side, you could put your skills to work designing annual reports and other collateral, or consulting on PR work. There are plenty of these types of needs at SHARE Charlotte or Hands-On Charlotte.

3. Leadership skills
There are so many initiatives nonprofits want to get started on, but there’s only so much time and resources that employees have. If you lead a group at your job, or are a born leader in your own life, it’s a skill that plenty of organizations are looking for when they say they’re in need to of volunteer coordinators. If you’re an enthusiastic go-getter who loves working with people and can get them together for the good of a topic or cause, you’ll have your pick of organizations clamoring to work with you.

4. Specialized skills
Are you a nurse, dental hygienist, social worker, speech therapist, lawyer, or accountant? The expertise and skills of these careers are often some of the biggest needs in nonprofits, depending on the mission of the organization. Often, nonprofits can’t afford these kinds of services, so anyone who has these specialized skills and is able to donate their time is invaluable to an organization.

5. Compassion and empathy
If this sounds simple, it’s meant to. The first thing you need to have in order to make an impact as a volunteer is the ability to imagine the world from another person’s perspective, try to put yourself in their shoes, and the desire to do work that can support them. If you care about your community and the people in it, and have the time to do so, what better way to help your community than volunteer?
Most nonprofits were started by people who cared about a cause—and it all stemmed from the compassion, care, and empathy within them. However, that passion can only be sustained with the help of like-minded volunteers. If you’ve been meaning to reach out to a Charlotte-area nonprofit to see how you might be able to support their cause and get involved, National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to do so and Apparo would love to help! Please email Nicola Main at nmain@apparo.org to learn more.