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Boosting careers through skills-based volunteering

In today's interconnected world, skills-based volunteering has emerged as a powerful vehicle not only for giving back to the community but also for personal and professional development. By engaging in volunteer work that utilizes specific professional skills, individuals can enhance their expertise, broaden their networks, and gain invaluable hands-on experience in real-world settings. This form of volunteerism offers a unique dual benefit: it contributes positively to societal needs and simultaneously supports career growth and development. 

We see it every day at Catchafire. As professionals from various sectors lend their expertise to nonprofits, they not only make a meaningful impact but also cultivate new skills, strengthen their resumes, and unlock new career opportunities, truly embodying the spirit of paying it forward.

Unlock career opportunities through skills-based volunteering

In today’s competitive job market, standing out from the crowd is more crucial than ever. One powerful but often overlooked strategy is skills-based volunteering. This approach not only enriches the community but also significantly boosts your professional development and career trajectory. Here’s how engaging in skills-based volunteering can offer substantial career benefits:


1. Skill development and diversification

Skills-based volunteering pushes you into real-world scenarios where you can apply your knowledge in practical settings. Whether you’re a marketing expert helping a nonprofit enhance their brand presence, or a software developer creating a website for a local organization, the challenges you face will refine and expand your skill set. This hands-on experience is invaluable as it demonstrates your ability to adapt and innovate, traits highly prized by employers.

2. Networking opportunities

When you volunteer, you step into a community of like-minded individuals, including industry professionals who share your passions and values. This network can be instrumental in finding job opportunities or navigating career shifts. Regular interactions with other volunteers and organizational leaders can lead to recommendations, job referrals, or even offers. The connections made through volunteering are often rooted in a deep sense of mutual respect and common goals, establishing strong and enduring professional relationships. Many of the volunteers on Catchafire go on to become repeat volunteers, donors, or board members, developing long-term relationships with the nonprofit.

3. Enhanced resume

Incorporating your volunteer experiences into your resume can significantly enhance your appeal to potential employers. It reflects your initiative, social responsibility, and willingness to go beyond the basic requirements of your existing role. Skills-based volunteering specifically shows that you are continually improving your professional abilities and applying them in diverse contexts, making you a more dynamic candidate.

Volunteer highlight: meet Victoria

Boosting careers through skills-based volunteering - cover-min-1

We spoke to Victoria, a volunteer on Catchafire, about how skills-based volunteering has supported her career growth. Victoria is a social media strategist at Central Michigan University, driving impactful digital strategies to increase brand visibility and engagement. She is also the founder and artist behind Byway Press, a Great Lakes-based eco-friendly stationery brand. Victoria aligns her passion for sustainability and mindful living to her day job, small business, and volunteer projects.

Boosting careers through skills-based volunteering - 1-min

In a few sentences, tell us more about yourself and your background.

I’m a full-time social media strategist and a part-time small business owner. During my 9-5, I’m an Associate Director of Social Media at Central Michigan University. My 5-9 includes running an eco-friendly stationery company called Byway Press. I use my marketing expertise to volunteer my services for other nonprofits through Catchafire, and Byway Press is a 1% For the Planet member, giving back to environmental and mental health causes in the Great Lakes region.

Why and how did you begin volunteering on Catchafire?

I started my communications career in the nonprofit world and developed a passion for supporting environmental and mental health causes. I always knew that I wanted to use my small business to give back to organizations that share my values. When a friend told me about Catchafire, I immediately signed up and started applying for volunteer jobs. I find it rewarding to share my years of marketing knowledge with nonprofits that need my help, and I don’t know of any other opportunity that allows me to volunteer professional services in such an accessible way.

What has been your most impactful or memorable experience on Catchafire?

I recently finished a volunteer project for an organization that supports local economic development, homeownership, and property tax justice. I learned a lot about a social justice issue that caused massive illegal foreclosures on a community that became displaced. This organization works to help people keep their homes and rebuild their vibrant community. Working with this group of people and seeing the positive impact they’ve made on their community has helped restore my faith in humanity. 

What has been your biggest takeaway from your experience on Catchafire? How has this impacted/influenced your life and career goals?

When I volunteer my time, I’m meeting new people and growing my professional network with individuals that serve their communities. I like to surround myself with service-oriented people because it keeps me grounded and it also feels good to give back.


"Working on various projects outside of my day job helps me perform my day job. Creating social media strategies for other organizations means I’m coming up with creative ways to solve marketing problems. Oftentimes, those solutions I offer to nonprofits also apply to my daily work."

Victoria, Catchafire volunteer


How do you feel your volunteer work has made a difference for the nonprofit or for those it serves?

Marketing strategies are critical to the success of any institution. No nonprofit can grow their services or people they serve without community engagement, collaboration, and funding. When I step in to help develop social media and marketing strategies, I know that my work is essential to the growth of the organization’s first few years. This can make or break the future endeavors of the nonprofit.

What’s a project that stood out to you?

I loved working with Cynthia from National Alliance on Mental Illness! She was so easy to work with, provided a list of deliverables she needed before our first meeting, and gave me the assets I needed to get the project done quickly.


"I was so lucky to find Victoria for this project. She was professional and thorough providing suggestions on how to outline our social media templates. I was even more impressed to learn she's dedicated to "paying it forward" with nonprofits and donating her services and proceeds from her own business. Pleasure to work with, so highly recommend!"

Cynthia V., Owner and consultant
National Alliance on Mental Illness San Antonio


What advice would you give to volunteers about starting their first Catchafire project?

Learn as much as you can about the organization you’re volunteering with and choose projects that would fit nicely in your professional portfolio. If you’re looking to develop more professional experience, treat each person you work with as if they are your client, and ask them to provide testimonials of their experience working with you.

Volunteer on Catchafire

If you're ready to enhance your professional skill set while making a significant impact in your community, sign up for skills-based volunteering on Catchafire. Catchafire connects skilled professionals with nonprofits in need of specific expertise, offering a variety of projects that can fit your schedule and skill level. By participating, you not only contribute to meaningful causes but also enrich your own career journey with valuable experiences and connections. Signing up and applying to a project takes five minutes – get started today.


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