A SHIFTer Tries Skills-Based Volunteering

One of SHIFT’s employee benefits is Volunteer Time Off to better our community. Here at the Boston office, SHIFTers volunteer at a local farm, at a local Boys and Girls Club, on local charity boards, at Habitat for Humanity and other great organizations. SHIFTers in every office participate using their Volunteer Time Off, or using their own hours such as our office manager in San Francisco.

In 2015, I took a new approach to volunteering and embraced skills-based volunteering. I looked for ways to apply my public relations capabilities towards programs that I felt passionately about and that needed the help. Even after my SHIFT hours were ‘used up’ – I realized how rewarding it was and continued.

Last spring, I heard that the Framingham School Committee was convening a Task Force to examine communications throughout the district (my local school district). I joined a lively group that was dedicated to proposing recommendations and immediate improvements. It was a five-month project that culminated in a report for the Superintendent of Schools and School Committee to evaluate and implement as desired. This was particularly educational for me personally as the K-12 education market was new to me. The complexities of student, parent, teacher, staff and community two-way communications were intriguing, and eye opening.

Late fall and early winter, my church recorded and released a CD, and I connected with local media outlets to share the story in print, online and broadcast outlets. It helped to sell copies of the CD and enabled the church to share their beautiful music more broadly. My favorite piece of coverage was a New England Cable News clip. The most surprising thing I learned? While I was focused on preparing the choir members for their five minutes of fame, I never thought it would have been *one of my own daughters* who twirled her hair on camera (0:02-0:03). I guess Mommy forgot to media train her own kindergartener!

As we start a new year, I am not sure yet where my volunteer time will go – but I believe it will again be in the skills-based arena. It felt great.

I’m curious – have you tried skills-based volunteering before? What did you do?

Catherine Allen
Executive Vice President


Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk