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HelpTank making it easy for skilled workers to do volunteer work

Stuff: June 12, 2017

A new online service is helping skilled workers volunteer to help not for profit organisation.

Research by The Who Did You Help Today Trust found workers wanted to volunteer their expertise but didn't know how.

On Tuesday the trust launched HelpTank, an online platform to match not-for-profit organisations with skilled workers looking to volunteer. Trust founder Stacey Shortall said: "There's a lot of people who want to give back, it's in our DNA. But it can be hard to find an entry point to get involved in an issue you really care about."

HelpTank also helped corporate businesses to promote paid work days for staff to volunteer.

"The enterprise solution is for businesses that have low uptake of days available for their staff to volunteer," Shortall said.

Z Energy gave $100,000 to the trust to launch HelpTank because its own volunteering programme was not working.

Z Energy community manager Christine Langdon said: "We had our skills volunteering programme. We were providing staff with two days of paid skilled volunteering time, and people were passionate about the idea, but the story we kept hearing was, I don't know how to find myself an opportunity."

The platform was free for people searching for a volunteering opportunities, and for not-for-profits posting opportunities.

HelpTank received funding through its enterprise arm, where businesses could sign up for HelpTank to send a company-wide message inviting staff to register, track who registered, what they were interested in, and how many matches they had.

"And because we also can get feedback from volunteers and not for profits we can give the businesses stories about the volunteering," Shortall said.

"There will be a payment for that from corporates. That's the funding that will help sustain us."

Marketing and communications skills were the most in demand during the pilot programme.

New Zealand Down Syndrome Association executive officer Zandra Vaccarino was part of the pilot programme and said HelpTank was a game changer for the not-for-profit sector.

New Zealand Down Syndrome Association executive officer Zandra Vaccarino says: "We're still getting into it but people have been able to give what they can - someone just gave half a day and it was enough to make a difference".

"It's a great way for people to share their skills and be able to volunteer the amount of time they want. I think a lot of people think volunteering is a year-long or lifetime commitment, but it can be an hour," she said.

"It's really difficult to employ all the people we need to do the work we need to do. We are stretched very short so this is an opportunity to get the skills outside our community," Vaccarino said.

"If you talk to any non-profit organisation they will say the projects change but there will always be a project running where they don't have the financial resources to employ people."

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