Graham Frankland is chair of the Skills Exchange Alliance, and is corporate responsibility and citizenship manager at National Grid. He heads up National Grid’s corporate responsibility and citizenship activities which include the company’s employee volunteering programmes. These programmes range from specific skills based employee volunteering through to community action days.
At the core of the Skills Exchange Alliance is the firm belief that, when done well, employer supported volunteering creates benefit for all involved.
Charities and community groups can access a wider range of professional skills and knowledge, helping them in delivering their important work. Individual volunteers have the opportunity to test and develop their skills, as well as gaining completely new experiences. Employers can expect to see their staff grow personally and professionally, and can create a positive working environment that helps them to get the best from their people.
There are already some excellent projects underway across the country. At National Grid we are fully committed to supporting our staff to deliver high impact volunteering; you can read more about how we developed an employer supported volunteering programme that is linked to personal development on NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit.
National Grid is not alone in supporting staff to volunteer their skills, with businesses across the country working hand in hand with charities and communities. The Skills Exchange Alliance believes that there is huge potential for more employers and charities to work together for common good.
The importance of sharing our skills
We know that businesses of all sizes are increasingly recognising the importance of playing a more active role in the communities they serve. We also know that as charities respond to a challenging and changing working environment, new partnerships that can bring in new skills are becoming increasingly important. Skills-based employer supported volunteering offers a brilliant opportunity to help build these partnerships.
The Skills Exchange campaign
This is why we are launching the next phase of our Skills Exchange campaign. For the next year the members of the Skills Exchange Alliance will each take responsibility for a month. They will use their connections with charities and employers to send a strong message about the value of skills-based volunteering, as well as what it takes to make volunteering relationships work.
I am extremely pleased that alliance member NCVO has agreed to kick-off this new phase of activity in November. They will shortly be followed by our other alliance members, including the likes of BT, Cranfield Trust, Lloyds Bank Foundation and the Small Charities Coalition.
Find out more about the Skills Exchange Alliance, including who our members are and how you can get in touch with them.
I will conclude by reiterating that I firmly believe there is huge potential to be realised by bringing together charities and employers with a shared interest in doing good. The people with the skills are there, and the need for their support is clear. It will take work on both sides to unlock the potential, but I speak from experience when I say the benefits are well worth it.