Charitable Innovation at Work (Literally)

board meeting

There are many strains felt during a recession. People lose jobs, companies buckle and maybe fold. And charities notice a drop off in donations.

Despite these pressures, people soldier on and still find ways to help the less fortunate. During Ireland’s recent, idiotic “boom,” it was common to hear the complaint that people had no time. They were too busy working or making money or both. Now that the country has been hit by a depression-sized economic contraction, a lot of people suddenly have a lot more time.

Meanwhile, not-for-profit groups still need help. Charities are often started by devoted people to meet certain needs.  But as the organizations grow, they may find skills gaps in HR, marketing, accounting or law. Boardmatch Ireland, founded five years ago, tries to match professionals with organizations that need their skill sets. These people will serve on the boards of the non-profits.

So far, so charitable.

But I first found out about Boardmatch at a recent MBA Association of Ireland talk on career development. Interestingly, it was not mentioned in the context of charitable work or personal career development, but as a means of employee retention in difficult economic times.

It was suggested that a sector unable to promote or award pay raises, while others were, could develop valued staff by putting them in touch with Boardmatch.

The charities gain, of course, by getting specialist expertise. The company holds on to needed employees, while the workers themselves get valuable mentoring and management skills that prepare them for more senior roles back at the office.

Image of people in the boardroom courtesy of Richard Rutter on Flickr.com.