I enjoyed interviewing Joel Cohen from BeyondMe who gave a fascinating insight in to the creation of this amazing movement which is dedicated to strengthening the social sector. We discussed how it has grown to almost two thousand members across the UK working together on projects to make a difference to over one hundred charities. Plus, advice was given which will be of interest to those of you who are working in social impact jobs.
What inspired the Founders to start BeyondMe and how did you all make it happen?
Our founders, Adam Pike and Michael Harris, were exploring opportunities to act generously but struggled to find anything that allowed philanthropy to become a more active part of their lives. They knew they wanted to contribute to causes with the time and skills they had to offer; they knew they wanted a more active relationship with an important organisation than a monthly donation; and they knew they could motivate their friends to get involved and make the experience more enjoyable. Nothing was available at the time to help them, so they founded the model in 2011 for giving BeyondMe uses today.
How many projects have started and how many people are involved across which locations?
To date, we’ve enabled 180 long-term partnerships between teams of skilled volunteers and 120 organisations in need of added capacity, expertise and funding. Our movement is 1,850 people strong and while near all our teams are London-based, their work impacts projects locally, nationally and globally – from Newham to Nepal.
How many hours of business skills have teams donated?
We’ve found that it’s easier to give when you have a real understanding and first-hand experience of the difference you can make. On average, our skilled professionals in our partnerships each give around 2-3 hours a month. But when matched by their team-mates social sector organisations receive far more than any single individual could provide. In six years, 15,000 skilled-volunteer hours have been committed to supporting organisations in need helping build a strong foundation for their success.
Why is this venture so important?
Charities consistently suggest that this year, they expect a higher demand for their services without an increase in their funding. For these organisations, the support of a BeyondMe partnership enables our most important and innovative civic groups to meet their critical needs, care for the well being of those who rely on their services and provide new opportunities for us all to take ownership of social and environmental challenges shaping our future.
Do the BeyondMe partnerships rely on skills already developed by participants or will volunteers learn new skills during the project?
To take part, each member of our movement has to decide which of their skills they are confident using to deliver real value to the social sector and which they’d like to develop. But within each partnership, in our workplaces and across different sectors in society, collaboration always gives us opportunities to learn new skills from one another. Our movement has come together because we recognise the role generosity can play introducing us to those we can learn from and provides new opportunities to teach and lead one another for a shared purpose. Perhaps this is why BeyondMe’s unique model for giving is so effective.
What advice do you have for people looking for social impact jobs?
Communities are the heart of any social impact job because working for ‘the good’ is never general, it always relates to someone specific you are trying to help. Often, solving a complex problem will require multiple interventions from many different organisations to support someone in need. So the best things to ask yourself are questions like: Who am I trying to help? What part of the support eco-system do I feel best able to contribute to? And most importantly, what kind of organisation do I need supporting me so I can provide for others? As the kinds of organisations working in an area you care about will increasingly include social enterprises, purpose-driven businesses and governmental organisations, the main advice is to keep an open mind about exactly what kind of organisation could deliver the social impact you’d like to make.
What skills and resources do charities and social enterprises in the BeyondMe portfolio rely on and do you think these will change in the future?
As wealth changes hands and it falls to new generations to support the social sector it is certain that ways of reaching them will change too. We hope that new forms of support, like skilled volunteering, and new sources of funding, like the business community, social investment and crowdfunding, will enable social impact projects to thrive. We’re excited about these because we know they have the potential to offer new ways of serving those in need. To master them the social sector will definitely require new skill sets in technology and digital communications. But it can’t succeed without the sources of support, openness to learning, experience and confidence that already exists in the social sector.
If you’d like to know more about working with BeyondMe go to www.beyondme.org or send any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org . Feel free to contact Katie for more information at email@example.com
Does being happy = being meaningful? by K Redfern
I’m often asked if being meaningful is the same as being happy. What’s your view? It’s been discussed as far back as 335BC, when the Greek philosopher Aristotle came up with the concept of ‘Eudaimonia’ which often gets translated as ‘happiness’. Aristotle thought to lead a happy life requires cultivating the best qualities within you both morally and intellectually and living up to your potential. He thought that it’s an active life, a life in which you do your job and contribute to society, a life in which you are involved with your community, a life in which you realize your potential. Psychologists have picked up on this and argue that it is about ‘being and doing good’ which some would say is deeper than just being happy and leads to being meaningful.
Meaningfulness is a quality that must be created or chosen. A study by George and Park at the University of Connecticut reviewed literature about what constitutes a meaningful life and came up with three features. A meaningful life firstly has a purpose ie the degree to which you feel directed by valued goals; secondly, comprehensiveness, the ability to make sense of your life and see it as coherent; lastly, mattering, the belief that your life has significance and is valued.
Happiness is about satisfying needs or desires and is linked sometimes to a quick win i.e. you can ‘buy’ something to make yourself feel happy like a bunch of flowers, clothes or a holiday; it’s about taking more than giving.
I was very lucky to connect with Emily Esfahani Smith who is the author of the fascinating book ‘The Power of Meaning – Creating a life that matters’. Emily has spent some considerable time exploring how we can begin to build a culture of meaning in to our lives, families, workplace and communities. She argues that the search for meaning can without doubt deepen our lives and is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness.
Studies show it is worth seeking a life that is meaningful even though at times it might still be challenging and stressful. According to the Harvard Grant Study the findings showed that there is little association between health and longevity, and happiness goals such as money and fame. Instead what they found is that the more powerful factor associated with health, contentment and longevity is the ability to maintain satisfying and meaningful long term relationships.
I enjoy helping people create a work life that is meaningful. It is very satisfying to help people work out what it is that makes them feel alive, grabs their attention and is their passion. To be able to then work to a common cause to ignite this enthusiasm further is powerful because when challenges arise and work gets tough with deadlines and the unexpected, I find that people don’t mind so much because they know they are doing good for themselves and also for others. I help my clients identify a work environment that suits them and therefore they develop relationships with likeminded colleagues that are meaningful - they automatically have things in common and are working towards shared goals.
So, there is clearly a big difference between being meaningful and being happy and seeking a meaningful life can potentially lead to a longer life with a positive impact on health and contentment.
Explore and discover more with Meaningful Recruitment: www.meaningfulrecruitment.co.uk
Great question and answer session on #flexibleworking #cv #building confidence for mothers returning to work and others looking for flex hours.
Volunteers needed to help people affected by #GrenfellTower - UK
Please email to register with your specialist skills and availability.
Event : ** Online Webinar 6/6/17**
How parents can help their children find a career path to fulfillment.
Tools & techniques will be shared to help parents assist their teenagers in connecting their dreams to the reality of the world of work and reach their full potential.
To register : email and joining instructions will be sent to you.
All articles featured on this page have been written by K Redfern
What is a B Corp & why are companies becoming certified?
A B Corp is a for-profit business that has social and/or environmental outcomes as part of its mission. The B Corp movement seeks to redefine success in business so that one day all companies will compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. B Corps change their Company Articles to treat the interests of all stakeholders equally. So, if traditional business is about maximising shareholder return, B Corps are about operating to create value for workers, the community, the environment and shareholders. This is an exciting global movement of more than 2,140 companies across 130 industries and 50 countries. They include businesses like Patagonia, Hootsuite, Ben & Jerry’s, COOK foods and many more.
Why are companies becoming a B Corp?
Any organisation that is for-profit and operating in a competitive market can become a B Corp. Charities can’t as they are not-for-profit but Community Interest Companies (CIC’s) can. By becoming a certified B Corporation, companies are voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance. These companies are distinguishing themselves in a busy marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business. It’s been said that the B Corp certification is to businesses what fair trade is to coffee.
Statistics show that B Corps generally create higher quality jobs and improve the quality of life in communities. As the movement grows it has become an increasingly powerful agent of change. Identifying as a B Corp is a way to publicly claim an identity as an organisation interested in both shareholder and stakeholder success. By having a clear identity, firms can communicate their values to customers, which is hugely beneficial when they are trying to differentiate themselves from the industry norm. #bethechange
The first cohort of B Corps were certified in 2007 and the organisation was set up in the US. In 2015 the UK B Corp community was officially launched with 62 certified members. These founding B Corps come from all over the UK and represent over 15 different industries, creating revenue of around £425m and employing over 3000 people in areas such as IT, professional services, finance, retail and education.
Looking for a career in social impact? Here are my top 5 tips to help you.
Finding a job with social impact can be challenging as there’s no clearly defined route.
Career paths in the social economy are not straight forward so here are some tips to help you:-
It’s not in the title.
Research all of the different titles so you are aware of all the jobs out there and more importantly delve in to the job responsibilities to see the opportunities for impact. Sounds obvious but social impact jobs don’t have the same names and companies have different titles for their jobs. There are around 40 titles and they are growing quickly, here are a few – Social innovation, Community Organizer, B Corps, Responsible Investing, Corporate Social Responsibility, Cause Marketing.
Focus on you.
Search for the job in the area of impact that really interests you and motivates you and be led by this when you are hunting for a new role. Avoid searching for the job that you think you ‘should do’ or ‘could do’ – you need to be inspired and excited by the field of social impact you are going to contribute to. This will then help you build up a cv of jobs that ‘flow’ together rather than look like erratic moves.
Get away from the day job and be open to communicating with people and contacts outside of your comfort zone. Leave time to relationship build and join groups where you can meet face to face with likeminded people. You’ll soon start to identify people who have similar passions and might even be doing a job like the one you are wanting who can give you advice.
Develop your skills set.
Future employers will want to know what you can do for them and how your skills set will be beneficial if you are to join their team. Invest in yourself and make sure your enthusiasm combines well with your skills and keep them up to date. Set up google alerts for areas such as sustainability and social finance. You can also get the latest news by following hashtags and thought leaders on Twitter eg #socent #socinn # sustainability.
Put your sustainability mindset to use when you have opportunities in your work and see if you can enhance projects you are working on or spearhead volunteer programs. You could even help get your company a B corp designation. Think laterally and be bold to seek opportunities that will add value to your team and your cv. Raise your hand and use your initiative to support those around you. Social innovators collaborate and don’t work in isolation so get out there.
Making a smooth return to work.
Juggling the commitments of parenthood and work isn’t straight forward. Many of my customers are Mums returning to work who often come up with same query… “Do you have any suggestions of how to make a smooth return to work after having a child?”
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of returning to the work routine you had before children. I’m a parent of 2 teenagers and have felt the pang of nerves before returning to work, so I’m with you on this point and can empathise if you are feeling this too. The work routine that used to feel so familiar now seems daunting. Your brain is filled with childcare schedules, nursery rhymes, wondering what the next meal is going to be or if there’s enough food in the house instead of project deadlines, work events, passwords and meetings.
This article gives parents making this big step some practical ideas to help you prepare for your return to work:-
Be clear on what you want and what’s right for you. You’ve gone through a massive stage of transition and now’s the time to think about what you want out of your career and how you can combine this with family life.
Spend time identifying your priorities as this will help you decide whether you want to return to the same role, whether you want to work full time or part time or whether you want to change your career completely. Contact me if you’d like to talk things through and get some advice on your options.
Organising childcare will be another primary focus. Working out suitable childcare early on will allow time for you and your child to settle in to the routine before you return to work. There are so many options and different ways of arranging suitable cover for your child. Minimise stress for you all by not leaving it to the last minute to make a plan. Speak to friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. Have some trial days booked in before your first day to see how your child adjusts and make sure they are happy so you all know what to expect when your first day back arrives and everyone can settle in to the routine calmly.
Build a community of people that you know you can support and rely on to help with last minute childcare emergencies or for when you need any general support.
Get ahead of yourself by working out how the weekly home tasks will happen and who’s doing them. Using automated systems to make day to day life management easier is a good idea so meal planning and house chores keep ticking over. Avoid frustration arising by focusing on these areas in advance rather than last minute which can add to stress.
List out your strengths. Remind yourself of the skills you’ve developed over the years. Be sure to include positive feedback you received from your customers/clients. It’s easy to feel that you have forgotten everything while you’ve been off work. The time you spend doing this is so valuable and you’ll boost your confidence in the process.
Time to enhance your skills? Now you’ve identified your strengths, consider if you need to enhance your knowledge base. If you plan ahead, you can get more tech savvy or do some training sessions. There are many online courses and learning platforms that are available for you to connect to from your home – check out websites such as Skillshare and Udemy.
Spend time researching the changes that might have happened in your field of work while you’ve been off. Use LinkedIn, speak to colleagues and check out what your clients have been up to so you feel more confident.
Be patient and kind to yourself. It’s easy to think of other family members needs before your own. You’re important too. Remember to fuel your body well with nutritious food, schedule ‘you time’ for self-care, exercise and replenish yourself. It takes time for new routines to settle in during any period of adjustment but if you keep calm and have a vision of what you are trying to aim for you will get there.
If you‘re organised and in a positive frame of mind it is possible to achieve a pretty smooth and enjoyable return to work. Be honest with yourself, those close to you and your employer with what is achievable and what you can deliver. Be gentle on yourself as you go through this time of adjustment and good luck!
Quote by Anon
'A meaningful life is not
being rich, being popular,
being highly educated or being perfect.
It is about being real, being humble,
being able to share ourselves and
touch the lives of others.
It is only then that we can
have a full, happy and contented life'.
This quote is here as an anchor to the articles I have written above. The quote may resonate with you in some way or it may not. Certain sentences or words may stand out to you . It is intended to give you 'food for thought' and only this. The same sentiment goes for the content in my articles which have been written with the intention of helping those that read them. Enjoy.