Firms pair up with charities for a day to share skills

Mr Benny Ng (in red), general manager of operations at ABR Holdings' Swensen's, speaking to representatives of ABR and South Central Community Family Service Centre. The family service centre's staff learnt about safety at work and food handling prac
Mr Benny Ng (in red), general manager of operations at ABR Holdings' Swensen's, speaking to representatives of ABR and South Central Community Family Service Centre. The family service centre's staff learnt about safety at work and food handling practices from ABR volunteers.PHOTO: STARTUPMEDIA.SG

Company volunteers help charities solve problems under Done In A Day scheme

Youth organisation Trybe wanted to reach out to more people and have its work featured in online and print publications. But its staff were not skilled in media relations.

Enter public relations agency Allison+Partners, which provided pro bono help for a day as part of a programme called Done In A Day.

In the programme, eight companies were paired with a charity each and, for one day, volunteered their skills and expertise to address a problem faced by the charity.

The programme, now in its second year, is part of the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive.

Trybe's staff learnt tips on public relations, pitching stories to the media and managing communications when crises happen.

MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE

We designed the Done In A Day programme to facilitate a meaningful 'first date'-like experience for volunteers and charities.

MR PETER YANG, on what the Done In A Day programme hopes to achieve.

Trybe deputy director Freddie Lai told The Sunday Times: "The volunteers from the PR agency are the industry experts... By tapping their professional skillsets and knowledge, we improved our communications strategy without having to reinvent the wheel."

Done In A Day is run by Empact, a social enterprise which promotes skills-based volunteerism.

Its executive director, Mr Peter Yang, said: "We found that lack of time and poorly scoped projects were among the top challenges for corporate staff to get started on skills-based volunteering, despite their desire to contribute back to society with their skillsets.

"We designed the Done In A Day programme to facilitate a meaningful 'first date'-like experience for volunteers and charities."

The projects which companies helped with included managing donor and volunteer databases, and developing fund-raising strategies.

The largest team of volunteers this year came from ABR Holdings, which runs restaurant chain Swensen's. Twelve volunteers helped South Central Community Family Service Centre, which runs a community kitchen, to ensure a safe working environment and food handling practices.

ABR also donated kitchen equipment such as chopping boards and knives, and created documents and forms to help the centre ensure that people adhere to best practices in food handling.

Mr Andrew Khoo, chief operating officer at Swensen's, said: "Skills-based volunteering is self-fulfilling and meaningful to the volunteers as they are personally involved in sharing their expertise with the beneficiaries."

South Central Community Family Service Centre assistant director for community engagement Chee Chi Hoon said: "This exceeded our expectations. We are deeply touched by ABR Holdings' generosity... in sharing their skills."

Mr Yang said: "We hope more organisations will consider giving both their time and skills to raise the capabilities of the charity sector."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 06, 2016, with the headline 'Firms pair up with charities for a day to share skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe