Maybe you’re unexpectedly unemployed, so you’re struggling to find time to volunteer amidst all the interviews and job applications. Perhaps, you’re yearning to make a positive contribution, but it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to juggle work and philanthropy. Regardless of your circumstances, it can be challenging to uncover the right volunteer opportunity… so, why not combine your career with your charitable aspirations?
That’s where skill-based volunteering comes into play. Skills-based volunteering sits at the intersection of professional pursuits and philanthropy. Leveraging your specialized skills, to assist non-profits, is a mutually beneficial form of volunteerism. You gain relevant, real-world experience and the organization benefits from your expertise.
We’re unpacking ten, unique approaches to skills-based volunteering and showcasing real-world examples from the Seer team. The best part is…all these options are industry agnostic so, you’ll walk away with actionable advice, whether you’re a Spanish teacher or a Software Engineer.
#1 Produce Content Intended for Non-profits
Publishing content that can be leveraged by non-profits, allows you to quickly impact charitable organizations at scale. It’d take months for you to independently consult hundreds of nonprofits. Instead, reach a wider audience by publishing content on your company’s platform.
- Leah is a volunteering veteran, but she recently found a new way to combine her Search chops with her passion for philanthropy. She published 4 SEO Tips for Small Non-Profits in June 2020 on Seer’s blog.
- We sold 173 Dogs of Seer Calendars in 2018 and donated $1,330 to local animal shelters. When 2019 rolled around, we published a blog post to generate interest in the charity-based calendars and provide resources to support animal shelters in Philly & San Diego. Make sure to include a CTA to donate!
#2 Leadership role = Larger impact
Perhaps you’re no stranger volunteering and you already found a nonprofit near-and-dear to your heart. (Hell yeah!) Consider making an even bigger contribution by taking on a Leadership role in advocating for that nonprofit within your company. By championing that cause at work, you could convince your coworkers to volunteer their time or your employer might be willing to make a sizable donation.
- Liz served as PA Kiwanis's District volunteer Webmaster and assisted with their site migration and redesign. She updated their site to become more user and mobile-friendly, introducing new audience members to Kiwanis' mission and growing their PA memberships.
- Cori, Hannah and Teresa have served on SPARK’s Advisory Board for several years. In addition to attending board meetings, they act as unofficial SPARK Ambassadors at Seer and they organize all the company-wide volunteering efforts for SPARK. Most importantly, they coordinate the annual Summer Mentorship program and organize fundraising events to support Philadelphia middle school students.
#3 Mentor Someone in your Field
Mentoring someone is one of the most impactful and emotionally fulfilling ways to volunteer your time. Having regular touchpoints to discuss career goals and navigate professional challenges can make a HUGE difference in an individual’s career trajectory. Not to mention, how rewarding it feels to watch your mentee learn, evolve, and grow over time. It’s the perfect way to pay-it-forward!
- Seer’s President, Crystal, began virtual volunteering with StudentMentors.org 6 years ago when she became a full-time working mom (“Once I had my own kids, I found myself struggling to keep up with volunteering in-person as consistently as I would like. This program allowed me to pace myself and setup time with mentees during nights or weekends”)
- Drew is a proud Villanova-grad who has been ‘paying it forward’ to his Alma Mater by leveraging his SEO expertise. Every year, he’s assigned a Marketing student through Villanova’s Alumni Group and serves as their mentor. Most universities have well-established Alumni Groups and Mentorship programs so, you won’t have to start from scratch either!
#4 Pro-bono Work is Impressive & Fulfilling
Doing pro-bono work is arguably the most common and easily accessible form of skills-based volunteering. Essentially, you’re providing a free service that would otherwise require a financial investment. There’s a compounding effect to your pro-bono contributions because you’re driving value for the business, while still protecting their bottom-line.
- Websites like Catchafire make it super simple to find pro-bono projects, whether you’re a CPA or an artist. (There are 60+ Digital Marketing-related projects available)
- Sr. PPC Manager, Ali, did pro-bono work for Tech Impact through the Google Grants program. As a seasoned Paid Search SME, she was able to directly apply her PPC chops to help the organization expand its online efforts in a strategic manner.
#5 Tackle a Project Together as a Team
Teamwork makes the dream-work! Challenge your team to champion for an important cause together. (It’ll help you bond, while making a difference-- score!) Your collective brain power and pre-established working dynamic will allow you to provide value in an efficient manner vs handling everything end-to-end as an individual contributor.
- Seer teammates, Taylor and Leah, banded together to support Somerset Academy’s SEO efforts on a pro-bono basis. By optimizing their website, they’re helping to drive more applications, which will allow them to continue providing a meaningful service to students in-need.
#6 Leverage Industry-specific Communities
Don’t spin your wheels trying to uncover an untapped opportunity if you don’t have to. Other professionals within your industry might be one step ahead! In the past few months, several grassroots, volunteer efforts have gained popularity within particular verticals-- like Wordpress Developers.Given everything happening in the world right now, it’s been amazing to see professionals banding together to tackle global issues as a collective industry!
- Bailey was matched with a digital marketing volunteering opportunity via an SEO community crowdsourced resource to support black-owned businesses. This month, she wrapped up a pro-bono site audit and initial keyword research too!
#7 Run a Free Webinar or Training Session
Deliver a free training session to practice public speaking, while providing a valuable service to folks in need. Talk about mutually beneficial! The old ‘teach a man to fish’ adage definitely applies here-- you’re giving those trainees the tools to succeed and the guidance to be self-sufficient. (Bonus Points: if you record the training session or send the training materials afterwards, they’ll be able to replicate that training, without having to rely on you as the instructor.)
- Aniqa, Michael, Lindsay and Karalea developed an 8-week Google Analytics Curriculum to train Camden youth on the fundamentals of Digital Analytics. Upon completing the training, participants will be able to set up a GA account and manage the on-going Google Analytics support of the Hopeworks website. (They’re eager to kick off Week 1 of Hopeworks Training in July!)
#8 Collaborate with Classmates for a Cause
Reunite with your classmates to collectively tackle an issue as a team. Don’t worry if your friends have pursued vastly different career paths; in fact, the more diverse your skills, the better! You’ll each contribute something unique and be able to easily divide the responsibilities based on areas of expertise.
- Sara and her fellow UPenn alums teamed up to form ProjectShields when COVID-19 hit. By combining each of their individual skill-sets, they were able to 3D print over 60,000 masks for healthcare workers.
#9 Re-purpose Your Company’s Resources
Struggling to find a skills-based volunteering tactic that tickles your fancy? Think about the resources at your disposal and how you could creatively distribute them to do good! Can you reallocate your company’s parking spaces to a local nonprofit? Would you be willing to donate your old laptop to an underprivileged student? (it’s probably just sitting in the closet collecting dust anyway) Think outside the box!
- Throughout 2020, we’ve been lending out Seer’s Philadelphia apartment for free via a local Partnership Program. Since our team won’t have any work-travel for the remainder of the year, we figured that it didn’t make sense for the space to remain empty, when there are so many people affected
- We actually built Seer’s Philly Event Space with the intention of creating a safe-space to share ideas within our community. That’s why our entire 7th floor is able to be rented out by local organizations, free of charge. We’ve had GirlDevelopIt host events in our Philly Headquarters and Blacks in Technology held a Chapter Meeting in our San Diego office.
#10 Work with Kids in your Community
You don’t have to hop on a plane to find a community in-need. Regardless of where you’re located, there are local, youth-based organizations seeking volunteers who can invest time on a consistent basis. Of course, that shouldn’t discourage you from participating in a one-time volunteering event! If you find a nonprofit whose mission resonates with you, that ad hoc volunteering session could turn into a weekly commitment. That's exactly how I fell in love with volunteering at Seer!
- Ever since Rebecca relocated to San Diego, she’s been committed to making a difference within her community. She’s a huge advocate for GirlsRising and accompanied them on their camping trip last summer. (See below)
- The SPARK Mentorship Program has been a long-time favorite within Seer’s Philadelphia HQ. Every summer for the past 5+ years, a group of 10+ Philly middle school students come on-site for 2 hours/week to work on a project with their Seer mentors. After the 12-weeks, they present their projects at a science-fair style event, attended by their parents, teachers, and mentors.
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