top of page


  • Writer's pictureIFEL

Your Guide to Skills-Based Volunteering: Strengthening Communities Through Your Expertise

Updated: Apr 5

A group of people stacking hands, ready to participate in skill-based volunteering

Good news: With skills-based volunteering, you can use your talents to make a difference.

Key takeaways:

  • Move beyond basic volunteering and bring your and your team’s expertise and passions to the table.

  • Support people while building capacity for those who need it most.

  • Don’t forget to: Identify strengths and skill sets, match people with organizations in need, create objectives, and measure progress. Voila! 

We've all heard about volunteering, but did you know it's a game-changer for both individuals and companies? Skills-based volunteering, in particular, is gaining traction as it lets you give back using your skills and passion for positive change.

So, what is it? Well, it’s just like it sounds: It’s about giving back in a way that links up with your and your employees’ existing skill sets and desires to implement positive change in your communities. It’s a pretty simple concept that packs a punch.

Just read what retired CPA Sally Petrick had to say about it: “I love it. I just love the different people. I'm a CPA, so I'm working with people on their financials, and some people are so intimidated, and some love it. So to be able to deal with every single level of people has been, it’s just been wonderful.”

It lets you deliver pro-bono services and this form of giving back can also serve as a positive tool for businesses to get their teams involved and motivated. 

Let’s explore this exciting form of volunteering a little more, shall we?

What is skills-based volunteering, exactly?

In a nutshell: It uses your specialized skills, knowledge, and expertise to address challenges that organizations, such as community groups, or even entrepreneurs face. It taps into people’s proven talents to make a more targeted impact on others. It’s pretty powerful.

Here are a few benefits:

  • Develop personally and professionally: You and your team can help nonprofits and historically excluded entrepreneurs while developing personally and professionally. Volunteers will improve their skills, gain new perspectives, and expand their networks.

  • Aligns with corporate social responsibility: Organizational social responsibility is vital for creating goodwill and giving back to communities in need.  Consider incorporating skills-based volunteering into your corporate giving strategies since it enhances brand reputation and fosters a positive corporate culture. This isn’t rocket science!

  • Thoughtfully solving complex issues: You and your team can thoughtfully contribute your expertise in areas like marketing, finance, technology, or project management, giving back in ways that actually align with others’ needs. This kind of customization will be much appreciated by those who lack the specific knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation.

  • Building capacity for small businesses: Let’s face it, small businesses help to make our communities vibrant and help create jobs, but these are resource-constrained, and are still rebuilding following the pandemic. You and your teams can enhance the impact to the communities they serve, by sharing your expertise. How great is that?

  • Minimal training: Consider this: When people volunteer in what they already specialize in, there’s not a big learning curve. You and your employees can use what you already know to guide others, which saves a lot of time. And, everyone likes saving time!

Harness your strengths and interests to give to entrepreneurs and organizations in need. Invest in your community and broaden your impact in the world. 

So, what makes a good skills-based volunteering plan?

5 key elements of a skills-based volunteering strategy 

Skills-based volunteering starts with being strategic. How can you leverage your and your employees’ amazing talents? Asking questions will help you find the right community opportunities and set up long-lasting partnerships. Check out these elements:

1. Identify personal skills and interests

People generally love to talk about themselves. So, ask them to identify their unique skills, passions, and areas of expertise. This could be marketing, finance, IT, project management, artistry, and many other areas, but understanding their strengths helps you find the right volunteer opportunities for them.

2. Match skills with needs

Next up: Connecting professionals with opportunities that align with them. Pair people with projects where they can make the biggest impact. (Pro tip: Third-party platforms and organizations can help you match people’s skills with the right opportunities.)

3. Be clear with objectives 

Then, be clear about measurable objectives for the project. Talk about all the nitty-gritty details: Define intended outcomes, timelines, and expected impacts. That way, all parties are aligned and focused.

4. Collaborate on project execution

Your volunteers can then work closely with the partnering organization to plan and execute. Being collaborative fosters a sense of purpose and teamwork, creating a win-win scenario for everyone. Improve your company culture and build a strong sense of community. Wins all around! 

5. Keep tabs on the impacts

Another important part of skills-based volunteering? Creating measurable impacts. Set clear goals and metrics to keep an eye on success. Shoot for creating a continuous improvement cycle.

So, what does all of this equate to? Greatness and giving that know no bounds. By focusing on these elements, you can create meaningful volunteer experiences for everyone involved. 

Motivate yourself and your teams with skills-based volunteering

The bottom line is that skills-based volunteering is a very powerful tool in the world of community engagement. You and your employees can use the skills and interests you already have to give back, creating more successful volunteering relationships and outcomes. And, that’s always the goal, isn’t it?

Another real-world example comes from Jason Thigpen, CEO of Just Right Technology. He says, “I volunteered because I think back to my journey as an entrepreneur. So now that I have some experience, I want to give that back as well. Enthusiasm never dies. You know that regardless of experience or resources, the spirit of enthusiasm is what keeps people going. And so that's kind of my cheat code, why I do it.”

Tap into your team's enthusiasm and expertise to address pressing social challenges right now, and nurture personal and professional growth. 


Featured News

bottom of page