You know what’s amazing that is on offer at most organisations? Charity days. They’re these incredible moments when organisations and charities come together and allow individuals to do something for the greater good. Plus, they’re a win-win for everyone involved: Organisations get to show their commitment to social responsibility, which is not just good for their image, but also builds trust and loyalty among customers and employees; the charity gets an extra pair of hands (or a different set of skills or additional brainpower etc) and the individual gets the uplift of doing something worthwhile.
I am lucky enough to be the Chair of Trustees for Oxfordshire education charity Quest for Learning (QfL) – so that’s where I get to spend my own charity days. Rather than just trying to fit my trustee work around my day job, these dedicated days allow me to sit down and plan with the exec team – whether that’s interrogating fundraising strategy, or researching networking opportunities, or looking at budgets. The time is used to help ensure the charity remains on a sustainable footing – which in turn means we can deliver the charity’s successful initiatives to more schools – and help more children to overcome their numeracy and literacy difficulties.
So, how can we best use charity days to their full advantage?
Here’s what I’ve learnt over my time at Quest for Learning:
- Find common ground: Look for opportunities to help that align with your values and the charity’s mission. When your heart is in it, the effort feels authentic.
- Roll up your sleeves and be practical: Whether it’s volunteering or fundraising, hands-on engagement makes a real impact – but it has to be based on what the charity actually needs, whether that’s being a sounding board planning for the future, active fundraising, physical endeavours, or using any other skills you have to offer.
- Commit for the long haul: Don’t make it a one-time thing. Charities need consistent help; building on what you do with a charity time after time has compound benefits for the volunteer and, more importantly, the charity. Long-term commitment ensures sustained support for charities like Quest for Learning.
- Educate and advocate: Use charity days to educate people about your cause, in my case it’s children’s literacy. I know that driving that awareness leads to more engagement, better funding for the charity and ultimately improved literacy and numeracy for children who would otherwise be struggling.
- Measure the magic: Set clear goals to make sure that the charity is getting the most from your time because it’s not just about feeling good, it’s about making a difference. I spent my most recent charity day writing this and other thought pieces, to raise awareness of Quest for Learning’s work – a tangible addition to the charity’s communications – and a new challenge for me!
Charity days are a wonderful opportunity for getting involved in something that you care about, and it does make a difference – trust me. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my charity days, and always look forward to the next as it can bring the unexpected, which I revel in! My skills are utilised in different ways, I think differently, develop, and all this is employed for a much greater good.
So when it comes to charity days – use them, don’t lose them.
Roger Copleston is Chair of Trustees for Quest for Learning.