Our unique way of working means that we try to really understand and represent both our charity and employer partners by co-designing projects with them. We are most interested in encouraging projects that address real and high community needs in a meaningful and enhanced way, i.e. projects that enable charities do things they could not have done on their own, and that add value using company-specific skills.
We find that the best partnerships occur when there is natural synergy and a crossover of interests between companies and charities. Where companies are concerned, we are keen to make sure that project partnerships encourage team building and personal and professional skills development.
Other kinds of support we provide
We also provide support for other volunteer centres and brokers please get in touch for more information.
We provide brokerage support in three ways:
- Through the quarterly E-noticeboard which lists the current employee volunteering opportunities. We work closely with our charity and community partners partners to package opportunities so that they are suitable and attractive for employee volunteers. This E-noticeboard enables corporate volunteers to quickly self-select what they want to get involved in, as a solo volunteer or a small team.
- By sitting the right potential partners around the table and co-developing new ideas from scratch. This is a much more in depth approach used to design innovative projects or flagship programmes that really meet both partners' needs and have a high impact in the community.
- Quick introductions to the right people where minimal support is needed.
The role of the broker
Using a broker for employer supported volunteering
What is a broker? A 'broker' is a term used to describe an agency that can help an employer find the right volunteering opportunities for their staff.
Are brokers necessary? It is great that organisations can write, browse and apply for volunteering opportunities from their own office, so why not now just do away with the middleperson and save everyone's time?
There are benefits of involving a broker - they have excellent local knowledge, good connections across sectors, passion about volunteering, partnership expertise, creative and flexible methods and always have an ear to the ground. This means they know what's going on and how best to get others involved, and to maximise effect.
There are three main areas that brokers can help with:
- Managing and supporting volunteer projects;
- Connecting employers and volunteer involving organisations, making everyone more aware of what's available the local area;
- Providing good practice resources to meet an organisation's needs as it develops.
A broker represents and serves both the employer and the charity and this puts the broker in a unique and impartial position. The broker takes time to understand the needs of both sides, and prepares the foundation for a good working relationship. A broker's offer of project support will usually include:
- Making introductions;
- Project development;
- Listening and responding to particular requirements;
- Managing timescales and keeping momentum going;
- Carrying out monitoring and evaluation;
- Supporting project partners through any difficulties that arise;
- Help to celebrate successes.
Many brokers run 'off the shelf' team challenges, which reduce the time that employers and organisations need to put into project management. Particular support they might offer could include:
- Site visits;
- Risk assessments;
- Health and safety checks;
- Detailed project development;
- CRB processing;
- On-the-day briefing and volunteer management;
- Project report writing.
Some brokers may also provide more bespoke support and consultancy through facilitated meetings where project partners co-create and design the work together. This approach is more time consuming for organisations but creates a rich learning environment in which those involved can engage and grapple with the real issues that the volunteer involving organisation faces.
By using a broker, organisations are plugging themselves into local networks and getting in touch with others trying to make a difference in the area. This enables better connection with the local community. It also encourages networking with organisations who can share models and local insider knowledge on what has and hasn't worked.
Brokers should be able to offer an assortment of helpful project tools, case studies, good practice models, examples of employer supported volunteering policies, and other useful information to get volunteering off to the best start. They may also have promotional materials to aid senior level buy in, and motivation of employees.
Networking events can be part of the brokerage package too, and these can be great places to learn what others have done and share stories and strategies for success. Working through these resources with one-on-one tailored support from a broker, organisations can make shifts in their culture and become project-ready and move onto new levels of excellence in their community engagement.
This article is provided by Volunteer Centre Westminster.
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