Volunteering doesn’t have to be an enormous commitment. Sometimes, the hobbies you might enjoy in your spare time can end up helping charities and non-profit organisations in hugely useful ways.
James is one such individual who found a way to turn his passion into a charitable act, using Vollie to connect with the Adelaide-based Kain Foundation. Connecting with corporate and community organisations, the Kain Foundation runs programs and works to provide opportunities for youths across South Australia and Uganda. With their website needing a redesign, the Kain Foundation turned to Vollie to help find someone to lend their skills to the project – and it meant that Kain were able to focus on their mission and allocate their funding to much-needed youth education and employment projects instead of a new website.
James is a 29-year-old communications officer at the University of South Australia, and while marketing is a huge part of his career, web development isn’t his main profession. “I don’t have any formal training in web design or development, but it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and I’ve done quite a few redesigns of websites through work,” he says, “it’s something I really enjoy doing; I like to do it in my spare time as well, helping out family and friends.”
Volunteering isn’t necessarily a huge part of James’ background either, and he counts his work with the Kain Foundation as the first big project he has gotten on board with in the past five to ten years. His predicament is a common one, perhaps a thought that crosses most people’s minds when the idea of volunteering arises. “Making myself commit to go volunteer on top of full time work and other hobbies and interests as well made things a bit more challenging,” says James. So what drew him to work with Vollie and Kain?
“Finding something that my skillset really suited, I guess that’s why online volunteering really stuck out and resonated with me – because it matched up with my skill set, and I didn’t know that it was something possible to do.”
“It was something I hadn’t come across before, volunteering online skills – I hadn’t really heard of that and it was definitely of interest to me, enjoying web development. So I thought, I enjoy doing it in my spare time for other people anyway; it’s probably a good idea to help out a charity or non-profit,”
The Kain Foundation’s project was one that required an approximate 30 hours of work, which meant that James was able to knock the task out over the space of a few days off. It also meant that as well as the trademark warm-fuzzy feeling that comes with contributing back to meaningful charities, the challenging yet rewarding nature of the job allowed James the space to practice and further develop his skills in a structured setting.
“Taking that project from start to finish with an organisation I didn’t know, and treating that more like a work project rather than messing around as a hobby with family and friends, I had to take it a little more seriously and really plan that out – so it tested me in that way. I really enjoyed it and I think it helped me grow with my skills as well in project management.”
The Kain Foundation was ecstatic with the results, and Commercial Manager Lisa Tarca notes the impact that having a refreshed website can have for a non-profit like theirs.
“Doing a website redesign had been on the Kain Foundation wish list for the last few years, but we just hadn’t tackled it due to lack of in-house skills and budget. What a gift it was when I returned to work in January and new website was up and running – the great new website means we can now make a bigger impact through our projects.”
The positive impact that results from what can so easily be done from the comfort of your own home can be tremendous, and James notes his online volunteering experience as a gratifying one. With many charities being under-resourced and marketing strategies being some of the first to be sacrificed, the capacity for volunteer work in tech and communications-related tasks for non-profits is certainly there.
“It was definitely rewarding seeing how much they appreciated the work that was done in the end and how much it can benefit them as well, attracting new sponsors and organisations – because the website is often overlooked by some companies, but it’s definitely that first impression that external organisations and charities see,”
Overall, was it a venture he would recommend?
“I would definitely recommend the whole experience, from going on to the Vollie website, to finding a project that suits your skills, and connecting with these organisations.”
“I would encourage others to at least get in contact with organisations and see if their skills match, and you never know what can happen from there – just get involved.”
Want to volunteer your skills just like James, right from the comfort of your own home?