My organization has been creating special volunteering experiences for companies for 20 years, but in all that time, we had never done one of our own. We create programs for companies that engage their employees in volunteering for nonprofits using their professional skills, or “skills-based volunteering.” In our programs, corporate employees use their skills and expertise to address nonprofits' internal capacity challenges so that they can focus on the important work of delivering their missions.

We have long touted the benefits of our programs, and when we tried it, we found it was all true. It was fun and rewarding, and we even learned new skills. But one thing surprised us. We had no idea that it would be a powerful team-building exercise.

It is well documented that team building improves employee engagement and morale, but many of us cringe when our companies announce a team escape room or virtual Jeopardy. Still, employers know that team building helps employees feel more engaged and connected, and employees appreciate team building, at least in the abstract. Team building needs a reboot, and my team and I have struck on an innovative solution to the teambuilding rut that so many companies are in.

Skills-based volunteering does not involve painting schools or working in a soup kitchen, though those are valuable. It involves professionals using their skills and expertise in areas like strategy, finance, marketing or human resources to support a nonprofit’s organizational challenge, freeing up time so that they can focus on their missions. They are valuable for nonprofits, and they can be special for volunteers, which makes them such great team-building experiences. It is rewarding to give back to society; it feels even better when you leverage the skills and expertise you have developed over a lifetime.

We learned a few things that we believe contributed to a successful skills-based volunteering team-building experience. Let's take a look at them.

  1. Try for live and in-person experiences.
  2. Work with current partners.
  3. Curate the experience.
  4. Know that there will be challenges.

Read the full article about skills-based volunteering by Leila Saad at Forbes.