Skills-based volunteering

Skills-based volunteering invites individuals to contribute their specialized skills, expertise, and knowledge to non-profit organizations, charities, or community initiatives. 

Often volunteering opportunities involve performing general tasks that do not need much prior knowledge. While these tasks are valuable, they might not fully utilize the unique talents and expertise of the volunteers. Skills-based volunteering enables volunteers to utilize their strengths to support causes they care about, making their contributions more meaningful and impactful.

Both non-skilled and skills-based volunteering can coexist within a well-rounded volunteer program. There is always place for community engagement, relationship-building, and operational support opportunities. But incorporating skills-based volunteering lets organisations tap into the strengths of professionals, and tackle more complex challenges.

Conducting a volunteer skills audit

A volunteer skills audit is a systematic evaluation of the skills and capabilities of your volunteer base. It’s the first step towards skills-based volunteer management. And it enables you to uncover hidden talents within your volunteers, and align these abilities with organizational needs. 

Making efficient and effective use of your human resources ensures that volunteers are engaged in tasks that best match their skills. This helps you achieve goals, and also nurtures a sense of purpose and fulfillment among volunteers.

Why do you need a volunteer skills audit?

Always clarify the purpose of the skills audit. What do you want to achieve by assessing the volunteer skills? For instance, you might want to identify areas where you lack expertise, and focus your recruitment efforts on a certain skill. Or you may want to upgrade the way you allocate tasks to better meet the strengths of your volunteers. The reason should make sense in the context of your volunteer management strategy.

Mapping and listing skills for the audit

Create a list of skills and competencies that are relevant to your organization’s mission. They should relate to the roles volunteers are expected to take. Your list could include technical skills (e.g., graphic design, programming), soft skills (e.g., communication, teamwork), and domain-specific skills (e.g., environmental conservation, event planning). Scroll to the end of this post for a longer example list to pick and choose from!

Survey your volunteers

There are many ways to get the data from your volunteers. You can create a survey or questionnaire with online tools like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or Typeform. Or you can add relevant fields to your volunteer database. For example, Zelos is a volunteer management app that lets volunteers easily fill in their own profiles! 

Make sure the questions are clear and easy to understand. If you have a large amount of volunteers, it’s better to ask multiple selection questions. It’s easy to drown in the variety of answers when they can write an essay in the text box! Multiple selection, yes/no and dropdown answers are much easier to sort and categorize.

Making the best of your volunteer skill audit results

With the audit results in hand, it’s much easier for you to offer tasks and roles that speak to each volunteer’s skills and experience. Most volunteer management systems allow you to assign tasks based on volunteer skills. For example, Zelos lets you target each volunteer signup to a certain skillset, and hide the opportunity from every volunteer who doesn’t match the description.

A skills audit may also uncover areas where volunteers require additional training or development. Use the results to design your training programs to enhance their existing skills or introduce them to new ones.

The audit results are a realistic view of your organization’s capabilities and gaps. This can be insightful information for your nonprofit’s long-term planning. Understanding the skill distribution can guide decisions on program expansion, resource allocation, and even potential partnerships. It provides 

A list volunteer skills for a volunteer skills audit:

1. Communication Skills:

  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Active listening
  • Public speaking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cross-cultural communication

2. Organizational Skills:

  • Time management
  • Prioritization
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Event coordination
  • Project management
  • Detail-oriented
  • Multitasking

3. Leadership and Teamwork:

  • Team collaboration
  • Delegation
  • Motivation
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Mentorship
  • Conflict management

4. Technical Skills:

  • Computer proficiency
  • Software skills (e.g., Microsoft Office, graphic design, video editing)
  • Data entry and management
  • Social media management
  • Web development
  • IT support

5. Fundraising and Financial Skills:

  • Grant writing
  • Fundraising event planning
  • Donation management
  • Budgeting
  • Financial reporting
  • Basic accounting

6. Creativity and Design:

  • Graphic design
  • Content creation
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Artistic skills
  • Creative problem-solving

7. Research and Analysis:

  • Data analysis
  • Market research
  • Trend analysis
  • Needs assessment
  • Impact evaluation
  • Report writing

8. Teaching and Training:

  • Curriculum development
  • Workshop facilitation
  • Tutoring
  • Training program design
  • Educational content creation
  • Instructional design

9. Language Skills:

  • Bilingual or multilingual abilities
  • Translation
  • Interpretation
  • Language tutoring

10. Community Engagement: 

  • Community organizing
  • Outreach 
  • Networking 
  • Community-building 
  • Public relations

11. Environmental and Conservation Skills: 

  • Sustainable practices  
  • Environmental education 
  • Conservation efforts 
  • Wildlife protection

12. Health and Wellness Skills: 

  • First aid/CPR certification 
  • Counseling skills 
  • Nutrition knowledge 
  • Mental health awareness

13. Legal and Advocacy Skills: 

  • Legal research 
  • Advocacy campaigns 
  • Lobbying efforts 
  • Policy analysis

14. Event Planning Skills: 

  • Venue management 
  • Logistics coordination 
  • Vendor management 
  • Guest relations

15. Volunteering and Community Service Skills: 

  • Volunteer management 
  • Volunteer recruitment 
  • Volunteer training 
  • Community service experience

16. Adaptability and Flexibility: 

  • Ability to work in changing environments 
  • Openness to new tasks and challenges
  • Resourcefulness
  • Learning agility

17. Empathy and Compassion: 

  • Ability to connect with and understand others’ perspectives 
  • Providing emotional support

18. Cultural Competence: 

  • Experience with diverse backgrounds and cultures 
  • Sensitivity to cultural differences
  • Conflict resolution in diverse settings

19. Critical Thinking: 

  • Analytical skills 
  • Problem-solving abilities 
  • Innovation and creative thinking

20. Safety and Security Skills: 

  • First aid and emergency response 
  • Risk assessment 
  • Safety protocol adherence

Remember, this list is just an example template for your inspiration. You should always customise your skills audit to suit the specific needs and focus of your organisation’s activities.

How we can help

Zelos Team Management is a volunteer management app focused on skills-based signup. It comes with an easy-to use database for keeping track of volunteer skills.

Volunteers can log in to your private workspace, fill in their skill profile, and continue to pick up tasks and shifts based on their selection.

Sign up for a free account on our website, or get in touch with our team for a free product demo.