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Charities and Volunteers join forces to improve youth employability - Inspiring Scotland

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25.10.2021

Charities and Volunteers join forces to improve youth employability

The third sector forms the backbone of our communities and spends the majority of its money and time delivering essential services. While this is critically important, it means organisations are often left with precious little resources to dedicate to the core business functions that enable them to streamline, scale and innovate.

Skills-based volunteering offers charities a transformative resource: external expertise that strengthens their capacity to serve their communities.

Charities within Inspiring Scotland’s Building Brighter Future Fund all work to support disadvantaged young people into employment. Specialist Volunteer lead Elaine convened a meeting asking all charities in the BBFF portfolio if they would like to participate in a charity forum discussing how Wood Mackenzie executives could assist with projects they were working on. They then began a collaboration with Senior Leaders at business management company Wood Mackenzie that would have great and lasting results.

Each charity initially had a specific issue they were looking to resolve. The Usual Place needed help professionalising a business plan proposal. FARE was at stalemate with the Council over indemnities and wanted to resolve a commercial asset acquisition problem. Aberdeen Foyer were experiencing change management issues, and Move On wanted support with injecting more commercialism into one of their business ventures.

Addressing the problem-solving needs of charities on a shoestring budget can be quite different to the normal day-to-day work of a corporate employee. Excited to do something meaningful and new, a group of senior executives at Wood Mackenzie, led by Martin Kelly and Malcolm Dickson, worked closely with the charities. Through a series of meetings with individuals at each organisation, the executives developed an understanding of each charity’s unique context and needs. This enabled them to truly understand what each organisation was trying to achieve and why.

Working directly with different stakeholders helped both sides appreciate the value of bringing together different points of view to help solve tough challenges.

Malcolm Dickson, who worked with SSF and Aberdeen Foyer, said:

“Working for these charities has been genuinely inspiring. The dedication of the teams – and the scope of what they deliver – is incredible. Feeling like I have made even a small difference to their organisations is a great feeling. As well as sharing some of my knowledge and time, I have learned a lot from the teams themselves. As well as being charities, these are serious businesses with excellent management – so the opportunities for a mutually beneficial relationship are plentiful.” 

Janet Johnston, who worked with The Usual Place, said:

Working with The Usual Place was a fantastic opportunity to understand more of the essential work they do with young people in Dumfries and Galloway. Supporting Heather and Craig to draft a new business plan was a great collaboration. The focus was on bringing the document up to date, as part of their work to attract future funding. It’s a privilege to support their work.”

Craig McEwen, CFO The Usual Place, remarked:

“All at Woodmac have been fanatically supportive of us and our mission and have left us with a working document that is so much stronger than when we first began. I can’t thank everyone involved enough. Your time and commitment to supporting our work with our young people is greatly appreciated. “

Rhodri Thomas worked with Move On, and said:

It’s been great working with John at Move On, and in particular, exploring the intersection of the financial and operational components of the charity versus its mission to deliver such valuable services to the community. This has given a new perspective on balancing these elements and how best to communicate them in a coherent and inspiring way.”

CEO of Move On, John Hinton, commented:

“The work is ongoing, with Wood Mac continuing to support senior Move On staff to develop an Integrated Strategy Map, which will provide staff with an easy to engage with visual link between the business plan and day to day activity.”

Pro bono initiatives such as this uniquely complement corporate inclusion strategies. By cultivating partnerships, both sides are able to work together to determine values and drivers, and execute projects accordingly.

Could your third sector organisation could benefit from this type of support? Find out more about our Specialist Volunteer Network and get in touch with the team for more information.

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