Harnessing volunteering schemes for tender specific social value

It is estimated that at least 11 million employees have the option to volunteer during their work hours, usually a day or two a year. This is a massive investment to social and environmental good by companies, although there are also internal motivations for these investments such as employee engagement, retention and team building in the workplace.

Social value (an umbrella concept for social, environmental and economic value) delivery is mandatory in every government contract and has put new demands on how volunteering should be arranged if a company wants to use their volunteering schemes in social value plans when bidding for government tenders. Traditional, ‘voluntary volunteering’ where employees choose their own charity to volunteer with and activities they wish to do, is not something that can be used in social value plans for tenders. Random days used by employees to support a range of very different kinds of initiatives, some of which are not aligned with social value framework requirements, do not deliver measurable outcomes or impact.

Social value plans in bids need to meet the requirements of tangible, explicit and locally relevant social value. This goes way beyond listing how many volunteers or volunteering days will be used. It is essential to build a plan where initiatives being supported are clear with outcome goals – not only outputs. Those organisations who run these initiatives need to be recognised beforehand as only they have the information on their beneficiaries and results of their work.

There are two different kinds of volunteering – unskilled and skilled volunteering. Unskilled volunteering provides manpower to make initiatives happen from fundraising to giving extra hands to set up an event, to reading books for the elderly to planting trees in urban green spaces. Skilled volunteering on the other hand consists of harnessing individuals’ capabilities and professional expertise to support causes. It is obvious that volunteering that harnesses skills can be much more powerful and impactful than non-skilled volunteering as they can help VCSE organisations to save money and grow – maximising impact. When a company wishes to harness skills to social value and make a real difference, it is most powerful to ‘bundle’ skills. This means, putting together teams to do a meaningful task within a charity, social enterprise or other community initiative. These skills can be used to help the organisation in their management and operations e.g. by building websites, setting up software, delivering marketing materials, giving financial and legal advice, renovating buildings. Or, harnessing the skills for the actual beneficiary work, e.g. through training, mentoring, career support, or designing accessible buildings.

The location of the actual impact and beneficiaries is the key when a company wishes to present a volunteering initiative in a tender bid. When planning meaningful, PPN 06/20 eligible volunteering activities, it is essential that companies find partners who actually need the resources they have to offer when the contract work takes place. This is not a simple task.

Finding these kinds of volunteering opportunities is time consuming and expensive if a company does not harness technology, like whatimpact.com, for local matching, understanding the outcomes and the ability to actively ‘bundle’ skills to meaningful initiatives. It is also very important that there is proper reporting on the results of these volunteering schemes. Too often companies try to evaluate these results themselves, which (a) they are not experts at and (b) they do not actually have access to the data they need. Reporting is not about the hours used, but rather the proven difference made, which only the charitable partner organisations know about. Therefore, reporting should come from the grass-root level, from the charitable initiative and the beneficiaries.

This is how whatimpact.com is built – saving time and money from companies and giving them access to outcome driven impact reporting, all to harness volunteering schemes for impactful social value.

If you wish to learn more on harnessing your volunteering schemes to government contract work and helping your company to win tenders and make a meaningful difference, contact us here. Also, you can check how whatimpact.com platform works and especially, how our Volunteering Hub functionality helps your company to align your volunteering scheme with your tender work, check a short demo here.

whatimpact.com is the only platform in the UK which is built to help you plan, deliver and report on social value, aligned with government social value requirements.

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