Friday, July 10, 2009

Are you a volunteer? Do you have skills?

We hear a lot these days about "skills based volunteers" and we want to pick your brain. What is a "skills-based" volunteer? Do all volunteers have skills? If they aren't "skills-based," what do they do? How did this term come about and why is it the new craze in volunteering? The term and the concept have created buzz around Volunteer Centers for a while, and we'd like your input. What is your definition of "skills-"based" volunteer vs. "volunteer"? Susan Ellis, a consultant well known in volunteer management circles, has also posted this topic on the Energize, Inc. website.

Have a look and give us your opinion of how this is affecting volunteering in Northern New Jersey.


Unknown said...

I think there can be certain dangers when using volunteers. As a non-profit professional, I have seen organizations sometimes say "yes" to volunteers who really have no skills that the specific organization needs. Why do they say yes? Because organizations don't like saying "no" even if it isn't in their interest to accept the help which in the long run can hinder an organization.

In general I think that organizations need to focus more on maintaining quality staff then focus so much energy on volunteers all of the time. Volunteers are not always reliable, and organizations can't run with the assumption that "we will find a volunteer to do the website, to plan the event, to maintain or database" non-profits are businesses and they really need to start recognizing that more.

Zoosa said...

That's a great question! And I think one which really has yet to be answered. In my opinion, a skills-based volunteer is someone who uses the skills they've developed for their career while volunteering... they're basically donating their time at their highest personal bill rate.

We just launched Zoosa ( as a new resource which collects the best skills-based volunteer opportunities. It's a start which we hope to continue to develop.

Good luck finding the answer!