Check on your favourite charities. They're not ok. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged through the world's economy. People across the country, maybe even you, have been out of work for months, struggling to make ends meet. The impact that's having on charities and non-profit organizations is exponential. Not only does the struggling economy mean many of their services are in higher demand than ever, but fewer people have the budget to donate. And, to make matters worse, physical distancing regulations have shut down critical fundraising activities.
Today is giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday that's designated for giving back to your community. If you are part of the group who can give extra cash to a cause today, realistically, there's only so much you have available to give. There's no way you can help everyone. When you find yourself wanting to do more, the other precious commodity all charities can use is time. And your unique skills are a bonus! Although limited, most of the large, high-profile charities we hear about have departments of professionals, much like businesses. While they can always use extra help, even more shallow in resources are the small groups, non-profits and charities in your community. Interest groups, service clubs, sports teams, fundraising events, school committees -- they're all run by a few volunteers who are doing their best to keep their heads above water. And as amazing as those volunteers are, they often lack in the tech skills that come naturally to you.
As noted, most of these organizations are looking for innovative ways to fundraise as well as find efficiencies to cut costs. The solution to both of these problems in many cases is technology, but they simply don't have the means or experience to implement it. They're in need of a digital transformation, albeit quite minor. Enter the IT professional! If you're an IT contractor, we can guarantee there's a committee of volunteers nearby who are working towards a goal that matches your values and they would love to hear from you. You can bring more to the table than you might realize:
Your Core Skills: Clients are willing to pay big bucks for your skills and with good reason. They're a valuable commodity. They might also be exactly what a non-profit needs to help them launch a fundraising initiative or move their organization to the next level. That said, it's rare the local mosque is looking for a C# Developer with experience working with network protocols and Rabbit Q.
Your Other Tech Abilities: You know how your neighbour assumes you can't wait to fix his computer because you can work in IT? Charities would love for you to do that as well. Although not your core trade, your background has given you basic skills in setting up networks, upgrading software, troubleshooting email, and maintaining websites. That same neighbour who can't figure out how to "open up the internet" is the same person running the local hockey club's database. Please give them a hand.
Project Management: You might not have a PMP certification, but if you work in IT, you have an understanding of project management, and that knowledge is extremely transferrable and in-demand. Not just IT projects, but planning events, organizing fundraisers, and renovations all require a strong project leader. Your existing experience will help a community group get to where they need to be (on time, on budget), and, if Project Management is on your career roadmap, the gained experience will help you get there sooner.
Business: As an independent contractor you run a business. You know the ins and outs of meetings, contracts, accounting software, invoicing, taxes... or you at least know the right people who can help you. Often, volunteer organizations are packed with individuals who can run the operations but are less experienced on the business side of things.
Partnerships: Your contracting career has also resulted in a network of other brilliant people and organizations. After a couple conversations with a charity's leaders, you'll quickly realize that another colleague might donate services, a favourite recruiter could help them fill a role, or a past client would love the sponsorship opportunity. You can help the get the organization to better places with just a couple phone calls!
Volunteering comes with so many benefits! It will help build your career, do amazing things for your mental health and, of course, create a stronger community. For an added tax bonus, although charities can't always give a tax receipt for your donated hours, you can choose to invoice your time, let them pay you, and then donate the earnings back. (Be sure to check with the charity that they can actually issue tax receipts first.) So, if you have even just a few extra hours in the coming months, talk to a few neighbours and have a look around your community. You might be surprised at how many people would love to have you!