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12.02.2020

How your professional expertise can make a difference

Did you know that Inspiring Scotland’s specialist volunteer opportunities enable you to use your skills and expertise for the greater good? Specialist Volunteer Executive Elaine Crichton explains how you can make a difference.

Traditional volunteering roles aren’t for everyone – whilst many of us want to share our time and skills with charities and other organisations, sometimes it’s hard to make a long-term commitment. That’s where specialist volunteering (or pro bono) projects can come into play. Pro-bono work has long been the norm within the legal world, and the rise of venture philanthropy (concept) is making it an increasingly popular way for other professionals to donate their time and knowledge to organisations that need it.

Expert input

Founded in 2008, Inspiring Scotland pioneered venture philanthropy in Scotland. Applying the principals of venture capitalism to the voluntary sector, they work with organisations that work with disadvantaged people and communities, to help them make a difference. But it’s not just about investing money, as Inspiring Scotland’s Specialist Volunteer Executive, Elaine Crichton explained to members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales at their 2019 Festive Networking event.

It’s a rewarding role, explains Elaine: “My background is financial services managing large pension funds. I’ve only been in the charity sector for four years, but I have more “high five” days now than I ever did before – delivering specialist volunteering services to charities is immensely rewarding and fulfilling. I truly love my job!”

In her talk, Elaine highlighted the fact that charities and organisations often need expert advice or guidance which generally they are not able to secure on a commercial footing due to operating on very tight budgets. Inspiring Scotland have a pool of expert professional volunteers – which includes photographers, business managers and, of course, accountancy professionals – who are willing to share their knowledge to help Scotland’s charities overcome problems.

Making a difference

This is often done on a project-by-project basis, with volunteers helping solve a specific problem or work on a certain task. For example, financial professionals involved in the scheme have helped a charity review its financial policies and processes, and create a new process to help protect them against fraud; completed an annual report and accounts for a new charity, and given the advice and support they needed to be able to prepare such documents themselves in future; and provided advice on issues such as VAT.

As Elaine discussed during her talk to members, Inspiring Scotland are always keen to connect with new experts who are willing to share their time and knowledge.

This blog by Jane Walker first appeared on icaew.com. Reproduced with kind permission.

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