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16th April 2021

Working after work: how volunteering pays

anna.alabau

Anna Alabau Producer

'I realised that this volunteering experience was giving a lot back to me'

When the initiative of having volunteer days that staff could take to help out was announced I was excited but at the same time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I looked at several initiatives and charities, but I felt like most of the opportunities were retail-based or required a commitment beyond what my existing ones would allow me to do.

So, when the board at The Fat Beehive Foundation shared the list of candidates that missed out on a grant last year and encouraged us to get in touch to volunteer, it felt like exactly the kind of thing I had been waiting for.

I contacted a couple of organisations that resonated with me and where I thought I could make a difference. I started collaborating with Create, who use the arts to engage and support people in the UK’s most deprived communities. After a handful of meetings and time spent working with them, I was ecstatic to share with them the website report I’d put together. 

Loosely based on the kind of work we do with clients at Fat Beehive and tailored to their needs, I assessed things like analytics, existing research, their website content and organisational objectives to report on a series of findings and draw some recommendations. 

The research included:

  • Help to produce a request for tender that was as useful as possible to get accurate responses and quotes
  • Providing a better understanding of what they already have and how to make the most of the budget they want to allocate to this project
  • Highlighting any opportunities to save budget, leveraging on existing technologies and platforms
  • Providing responses to technical questions that may come up during the shortlisting process
Volunteering globe

During the research, analysis and writing of the report, I used my experience and knowledge of data analysis, website design and technical solutions – things that I use on my job every day. However, that didn’t feel like work and I soon found a very refreshing and unexpected side to volunteering that I hadn’t thought of before.

Unlike volunteering for events or fundraising, which I’ve done in the past, volunteering my professional expertise felt like stepping up to a different place where I could observe the work I do from another angle. It felt exciting and a bit scary to do the work without the standard structure that revolves around a full project, but I could also see just how much I’ve learned in the almost 10 years I’ve been managing website projects, so much so that it felt like second nature!

Without expecting it and quite by surprise, I realised that this volunteering experience was giving a lot back to me – things that I may seem to take for granted sometimes, but are important to enjoy the work I do every day: confidence that I know my craft can provide valuable advice, confirmation that the outcomes of my work are useful and help charities make the most of their limited resources and reaffirmation that what I do helps people that I may never meet but that they can benefit from what I can offer.

I am certainly one of the millions who experience ‘impostor syndrome’ every once in a while. I never expected volunteering to give me a mindful space to realise the value of my work and of the knowledge I’ve acquired. But it has. And it’s one of those things money can’t buy.

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