Consider a scenario where Jane works for a large software company as a software developer. She loves the world of technology and works 40 hours a week putting her skills into practice. She hangs out with her friends during the weekend and watches TV during the rest of her free time. However, she would like do something productive and engaging when she’s not working, something that could help a community or a cause. What are her options?
Nonprofits today are stretched thin due to lack of resources and funding. Their challenges are growing and they’re constantly in need of expertise that may not be available within their own organizations. Here, individuals like Jane would be welcomed with open arms to help out in areas like project management, software development and writing to name a few.
So, besides being able to fill her time with something that benefits the community, what’s in it for Jane?
The first advantage is the satisfaction of seeing improvement in the community or cause being helped by the nonprofit. For instance, how cool would it be to build a socially conscious community that helps city workers (who cannot afford housing) get connected with homeowners who have extra space and are willing to let the workers use it? This is an example of a project that could help a community thrive through volunteer engagement.
Another advantage would be building more skills through side projects that could benefit Jane professionally. According to a study performed by Career Builder, 60% of hiring managers see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset when making recruitment decisions. During interviews, Jane can now talk passionately about activities outside of work like a project where she helped a nonprofit build an app to conserve whales through machine learning techniques.
According to another study, 92% of human resource executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve an employee’s leadership skills. Leadership is a quality that can help individuals swiftly climb up the corporate ladder. Bringing order to chaos, being able to convince management to implement an idea and guiding a team can reinstate confidence in one’s abilities and boost leadership acumen. There are several non-profit projects that could use volunteers to tackle such scenarios, stitch together different initiatives and form a cohesive strategy for the organization.
Last but not the least, joining a non-profit to donate skills would be an opportunity to network with fellow individuals who have a strong desire to build a better community. Networking with these individuals would lead to blending of ideas which could potentially turn into business ventures down the road, especially if entrepreneurship is an area of interest. Additionally, this cohort of talented individuals could also turn out to be business referrals in the professional world.
Nonprofits today operate in countless areas including human rights, animal rights, education, housing to name a few. The increase in use of technology in the non-profit sector has led a lot of these organizations to take their operations online. One might think that this would make it easier to attract volunteers, but it’s still surprisingly difficult to get the right people working on the right projects at the right time. This has driven the development of online platforms that connect nonprofits with volunteers. One such initiative operating in the realm of tech-for-good is DemocracyLab, a platform that aims to connect socially conscious individuals with tech-for-good projects. These projects address numerous issues including school violence, informed voting and housing to name a few. This platform presents a tremendous opportunity for those looking to contribute their skills and make a difference in their communities.
So, Jane (and others like her), what are you waiting for? There are so many ways to build new skills and network through projects on DemocracyLab. Sign up for a project that aligns with your values and could benefit from a skilled volunteer like you!