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Utilising your creative skills to build community

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· Organisational,Creativity Tools

You may be a stage in your career where you want to contribute your skills to the community. Clearly there is an enormous need in the non-profit area and charity services for both skilled and less skilled volunteers.

The nonprofit sector, including volunteering, contributes significantly to the economy of Australia. There are over 600,000 not-for-profit organisations in Australia, including but not limited to: Hobby clubs, Local sporting groups, Advocacy groups, Public hospitals, Medical research organisations, Special schools, Philanthropic foundations, Community child care centres, Environmental conservation organisations and Charities that provide assistance to the needy and disadvantaged.

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There is enormous scope to volunteer within this range of organisations to develop your management, leadership and other skillsets.

You could also consider volunteering your services by joining a Board, or Committee or Management to share your skills and, along the way, gain highly rewarding experiences as a committee member, assisting to develop the non profit’s core organisational capacity to continue its work.

Be aware of the time commitment that will be needed if you do choose a side project working with a non-profit Board. Typically it will be at least a year with regular after hour meetings. You will need to make time to learn about its history, values, mission, operations and ongoing needs, to ensure you can value add. It may lead to managing a variety of projects, particularly in fund raising, and will be an excellent method to develop or enhance your project management skills.

There are a number of professional board education services now offered to enable you to move from a voluntary board positions to paid remunerated roles.

Regardless of what type of volunteering you undertake it will enhance your experience, your CV and shows your commitment to your chosen path to future employers.

In many cases community-based organisations need people to do non glamorous but valuable jobs to help their organisation continue to operate. If you choose to go down this path you will gain networks and no doubt have great experiences.


While it may not give you the experience that you're seeking, be clear about what skills you will gain or how this will allow you to experience a new role, as it can still provide valuable insights if you're doing this as part of a career transition side project.

Also consider if you can add value through a volunteering arrangement in your current organisation. This could involve establishing a project, joining a committee or seeking experience in a different department to broaden your skills.

In all these examples you are stepping up and gaining new connections, observational clues, experience and skills to help you determine if these new roles are ultimately what you want to do on a more regular basis.

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Turn your ideas about volunteering into a side project:

  • Decide how much time you have to dedicate and under what circumstances eg weekly, weekend, with a beginning and end date, within your current organisation or externally etc.
  • Start by making a list of companies, organisations or individuals you’d like to know more about. Now go to LinkedIn and see who you know that works there or may be able to provide an introduction and contact.
  • List all the skills and experience you have (a list of value) that you could provide as part of the volunteering exchange.
  • Check out volunteering websites like Be Collective and ask to join groups
  • Consider whether you are prepared to do tasks that may assist the organisation but may not enhance your skills.
  • Then decide how much time you could devote to these activities in order to negotiate the other new skills and experiences you might be after.
  • Make contact and explore the possibilities.

Remember your new mantra: ACT-DO- REFLECT