Why Your Nonprofit Needs Skills-Based Volunteers

Kimberly Dulin is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and the Partnership Manager for Catchafire, a for-purpose social mission business that makes skills-based connections between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. Kimberly is always on-the-go spreading her love of nonprofits and the social good sector. She adores her place at Catchafire and is excited to light fires and change the world one [social] mission at a time.

Get the Skinny on the Skills-Based Sector

Today’s professional committed to having a real and positive impact on the world; holding a standard 9-5 is simply not enough. In looking to leverage their expertise while making the world a better place, many professionals are often stopped: how can one strike this balance without quitting that oh-so-necessary day job?

Enter: Skills-based volunteering. Located at the intersection of passion and purpose, skills-based volunteering allows professionals to make a tangible, lasting difference by connecting with a cause they care about and donating their skills to further that cause. Skills-based volunteering empowers professionals to become change-makers while honing their skills, building their resumes, and expanding their networks.

For these reasons, skills-based volunteering is becoming one of the most sought-after ways to give back. In fact, 4 million professionals from LinkedIn have already raised their hands looking to volunteer, and insist on more opportunities to give back using their expertise.

Why Your Nonprofit Needs Skills-Based Volunteers


In combining their unique talents with a burning to make a difference, a skills-based volunteer is a different breed of volunteer. Skills-based volunteers come from all walks of life, and similarly are in many different phases of life. Let’s take a closer look—who are skills-based volunteers?

  • Professional “9-5ers” hoping to add more purpose to their life outside of their workday

  • People in-between jobs searching for ways to keep their skills fresh and their portfolios up-to-date

  • Graduate school students kick-starting their professional careers

  • Retirees hoping to maintain their skills and contribute to the mission-driven world

But the real question is in the why: why should your nonprofit want to work with a volunteer ready to donate their skills?

Here are eight reasons why you can’t afford to ignore the skills-based volunteer movement:

  1. Hiring is risky business. When you bring in a consultant, intern or new employee, you’re investing time and money, both of which are precious! When you work with a skills-based volunteer, you get a real result (i.e. an incredible project) from a highly skilled professional for zero out-of-pocket cost.

  2. Skills-based volunteer projects often establish a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between nonprofits and volunteers. Engaging with a professional outside of your organization allows you to build your network and expand your pool of donors, advocates and supporters.

  3. Skills-based volunteers can fill in the gaps in your organization’s expertise. You might have a clear read on your donor base, but how do you market yourself to a new audience effectively? There’s a volunteer for that!

  4. In the nonprofit world, time is money. Save hours of your day by outsourcing projects to skills-based volunteers so you can focus on what you do best.

  5. The relationships you build with skills-based volunteers are about more than rapid-fire project completions, these relationships also give you and your team an opportunity to develop professionally in ways you never imagined.

  6. Skills-based volunteering is a great way to engage your board. Ask a board member to manage a volunteer experience or tap into your Board Members’ diverse skill sets and ask them to share. Who knows, maybe there is someone on your board who has a skill set you didn’t know about!

  7. Skills-based volunteering deepens the relationship with your supporters by showing them you are invested and appreciate their advocacy. Working with skills-based volunteers allows them to put personal fingerprints on a cause they’re already passionate about and want to see succeed.

  8. You are doing amazing work. We see that – and so do others! People want to see you grow, and our guess is that once you put yourself out there, you’ll be amazed at the number of professionals who jump at the opportunity to work with you.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about skills-based volunteers or you’re ready to get started with a volunteer, Catchafire can help you with all things skilled-based. For the latest updates on skills-based volunteering, follow @Catchafire!



Kimberly Dulin

April 1, 2015

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