While the world continues to question the morality of the banking and finance industry, Give What You’re Good At (GYWGA), a unique professional skills matching service company, founded by young female entrepreneur, Ami Bloomer, has been quietly working in the background with the banks and financial institutions, enabling their staff to effectively volunteer their skills and help change the world.
When you go to a dinner party and say that you work in banking and finance, you’ll be met with a knowing smile and a mistrustful gaze. But, mention that you are utilising your skills, with the blessing of your employer, to help charities and social enterprises tackle a plethora of social issues and see the mood change from judgmental to perplexed.
The banking and finance industry has been characterised as being purely interested in making money and unconcerned with the morality of how. Yet, many organisations in this sector have long recognised the value of skilled volunteering, not only for brand reputation, personnel development and employee retention, but also, as research has consistently shown, that companies who engage meaningfully in CSR earn make more profits.
However, delivering a coherent CSR programme which unites staff with a shared passion and a desire to make a difference, across the enterprise, multiple time zones and differing skill sets- is logistically and culturally a tricky task. Sometimes, despite great intentions nothing happens.
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To ease the logistical stresses, GWYGA offers a huge range of cloud-based structured volunteering initiativesand provides a unique service matching professionals who are keen to donate their expertise to charities in need of those professional skills.
GWYGA’s model is premised on building the infrastructure of charities to help them achieve more. Each charity goes through a diagnostic to determine the skills that will most help them and ensure a person’s time makes the maximum impact. Charities can ask for help with accounting, financial modeling, training, IT, web design, marketing, comms and much more – all designed to improve their operations so they are more effective in serving their communities.
“A typical project could be to set up an accounting system. This can help charities and social enterprises track spending and make smart investment decisions. Having accurate records is also a precursor to securing grant income, so this project is extremely popular,” says Ami Bloomer.
Since the projects are designed to be completed via the cloud on an individual’s mobile device and typically in less than five hours a week. Spikes in activity are often on the morning and evening commute – not even in working hours, which reinforces how committed employees are to the programme.
As well as its cloud-based services, GWYGA also runs specific capacity improvement days, called Mission Difference, styled as team away days, to solve a live issue facing a charity in just eight hours. This model is a great way for companies to engage and develop their employees while investing in their communities.
A participant of a recent Mission: Difference who participated in the day said, “I have to admit I had reservations as to what I could actually input to the day and what help I could be to the charity. But I was amazed by the number of similarities between the issues the charity faces and the issues we face, and by how much expertise we could bring to the table to help them improve, develop and progress. The day was great and it really helped the charity.”
In January this year Nationwide Building Society donated half a day with their graduates to help DePaul, the UK’s largest homeless youth charity get more families to open up their homes to homeless youngsters.
Stephen Uden, Head of Citizenship Nationwide Building Society, says “As a mutual building society, Nationwide has a long history of being involved in good causes and over our 160 year history these values have become an intrinsically important part of our culture with the majority of staff now being involved in our Citizenship agenda – for us CSR is not about a quick fix for reputation but a long running and fundamental part of our identity.”
Importantly GWYGA enables a company to conduct social impact reports on each project so that it can show stakeholders that true value is being created with their employee skills. Meaning a global CSR story is ready to go in a few clicks of a dashboard and can be updated in real time every month, every quarter, every board meeting. This is helping the banking industry demonstrate commitment and rebuild trust at a time when trust is a valued commodity in itself.
“Ultimately,” says Ami Bloomer, “The banking and finance companies are as strong as their communities. By improving the capacity of charities that help those communities, they are helping themselves prosper.”
As a result, GWYGA has already become an industry force for good with over 10 million charities and some 1.3 million registered professional volunteers from 15,000 companies worldwide and it is rapidly expanding and undertaking work with a large banking and finance organisations, whose millennial employees crave purpose in Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.
The banking and finance community is meeting its match in the form of hard up charities and growing social enterprises that are desperate for financial and strategic skills. By working with them, they are improving their brand reputation, their employee retention and their communities in a real and tangible way.
About the author
Having initially pursued a career at the Criminal Bar, Ami Bloomer decided there were better ways to affect change. She joined women’s charity, Platform 51, and went on to build and manage a £4 billion donor portfolio. In 2012 she founded Give What You’re Good At after witnessing firsthand how charities struggle to attract skilled volunteers.