Thinking about volunteering? Roll up your sleeves and jump in

Consulting to charities can be that much harder without some personal experience of the fundraising and operational challenges they face. Often, it’s only when we become closely involved with an organisation, giving time and lending expertise as a volunteer or Trustee, that we fully appreciate the charity’s vision.

The Southern Thailand Elephant Foundation (STEF)

‘I’d definitely encourage anyone advising Third Sector organisations, to develop a personal relationship with at least one charity whose work they feel aligned with,’ says Gifted’s Chief Executive, Amy Stevens. Amy, a passionate animal lover, became a Trustee of the Southern Thailand Elephant foundation, (STEF) in early 2020 and has been working with fellow Trustees to devise its future fundraising strategy. The Charity, which has recently opened a new Veterinary Centre in Thailand and rolled out giving programmes to fund specialised equipment and running costs, is dedicated to improving elephant welfare. ‘We recently launched the Medicine Angels programme,’ says Amy. ‘This is a great way for regular givers to become part of a fantastic story, helping to fund vets’ salaries and the medicines they need to treat elephants from across the region.’

Helping Hands Community Project

Back at home, Gifted’s Directors, Sue Lane and Julie Day both volunteer with the Helping Hands Community Project in Warwickshire. ‘Helping hands is literally a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable individuals in the local area,’ says Julie. ‘As with many smaller charities, the past year has been all about responding to the challenges of the pandemic, rethinking the way we do things and, with the help of local partners, turning out thousands of meals and food parcels.’

Middlesex Cricket

‘With grass roots sports and community organisations, it’s been a similar story,’ says Director, Chris Goldie, who chairs a large multi-sports club in London as well as Middlesex Cricket’s Recreational Committee.  ‘Community sports have been badly affected, particularly through the loss of the traditional income streams that have been impossible to maintain through the pandemic. We’ve had to be agile, flexible and quick to follow-up new grant schemes that have come online as a result of Covid-19. We have also had to ask our members to support us through donations rather than annual subscriptions. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned a lot about what members value and how we can support them.’

St Chad's Community Centre

The pause in normal activities can also create opportunities to revive, refresh and refurbish a facility, as fellow Director and Gifted Chairman, Andrew Day, discovered. ‘Having helped to build the St Chad’s Community Centre nearly five years ago, it was an absolute joy to attend a recent Trustee meeting and witness the brilliant work that’s being going on. From touching up paintwork, to installing Covid-secure screening and encouraging activity leaders to use the Centre as a space from which to stream their classes to an even wider audience, volunteer efforts have been inspirational. Despite the difficulties of the last year, this has been a real success story, demonstrating that loans can be paid off, pandemics can be overcome and even a small community centre can thrive in the midst of it all.’

 

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