Making employer supported volunteering more effective

Yes, walls and fences need painting. But there are skills within companies that social entrepreneurs can really benefit from. So we’re going to do something about it.

Karen Lynch, the outgoing CEO of Belu Water, is full of ideas. (So many in fact, that we have no idea how the rest of the Belu team keeps up with her.)

She’s also one of our Human Lending Library Experts and, following a morning session in Birmingham last year when she’d mentored three social entrepreneurs, she hit us with one.

“Why don’t I give you all of the Belu staff for a day and you can find social entrepreneurs that need some advice about their area of expertise?” she said.

Belu supplies bottled mineral water, filtration systems and refillable bottles to hotels, restaurants and businesses. Within the team is knowledge about business development, operations, marketing and much more.

We asked our network if they wanted some mentoring from the Belu people and the response was amazing. On the day, 14 mentoring sessions took place.

The social entrepreneurs all told us they found it really useful. And the mentors were just as pleased. Here’s what they told us:

“The minute you see their cogs turning and you know that you’re making a difference to someone – that’s what I enjoyed most about being a mentor.”

“Mentoring brings back just an amazing feeling of things that you’ve learned before that you can share with other people.”

“The mentoring session really made me think about my skills and my knowledge and my work experience so far. I didn’t realise I had so much of it! And it was really nice to be able to share that with them.”

So we found that staff thrive on the experience of being a mentor.

They told us they’re glad they can use their knowledge to help organisations working to address the big problems of the world.

It also generates positive feelings towards their employer for giving them the opportunity to contribute in this way. And their confidence is boosted as they realise the value of what they know.

A lightbulb went off.

Make your staff part of the Human Lending Library

We know that a lot of businesses give their staff time off to volunteer for good causes as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or learning and development programmes.

And we know that a lot of charities have walls and fences that need painting. But we think employer supported volunteering can be better than that.

We can see a lot of positive social impact being created by arming social entrepreneurs with the valuable knowledge that already exists within the minds of employees.

So, for a new year: a new idea.

We’re a charity that is going to operate a social enterprise arm. We’re going to start selling a business employee volunteering service that will contribute to funding our organisation supporting social entrepreneurs.

We can train and support employees from any company to become mentors, provide all the required session materials and a guaranteed, personalised match with at least two brilliant social enterprises. 

We will take care of all the logistics, from matching to post-meeting impact reviews. We’ll do the work necessary to arrange convenient times and venues for these meetings.

As the testimonials above demonstrate, employees will gain new experience, appreciate the value of their knowledge and become confident in applying their unique skills and insight.

Everyone involved gets a boost.

If you’d like to make your staff part of the Human Lending Library, or you have a suggestion of some companies that you think might like to get involved, please let us know.