Friday, 8 June 2018

New Pro Bono Project with RNIB




Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Project
Prioritising areas of focus for RNIB’s new 3-year strategy

Project:
RNIB are launching a new 3 –year strategy.  For their “Changing Society” strategy strand, they want the new strategy to prioritise removing the barriers that people with sight loss face in participating in society.  As part of this, they are seeking guidance as to which barriers to focus on, to optimise where the charity places their resources.
They would like to develop a systematic approach to options appraisal for this strategic prioritization, seeking input from stakeholders; which may include their staff and volunteers, their Board of Trustees, their Executive Board, and the wider community of blind and partially sighted people. Initially, they would like help on structuring the approach to the prioritisation, and then on-going advisory support as they implement whatever method is chosen. Ideas they have considered include Theory of Change and Multiple-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), although they are open to all options.
The OR volunteer would not be expected to run the whole options appraisal, but rather suggest the approach and then provide advice. RNIB are capable of running workshops or undertaking the appraisal themselves, with some support from the OR volunteer.

Time commitment: 5-7 days

Location: One or two visits to the London office may be required, but these are limited (to potentially a few hours).  The organisation is willing to work flexibly (e.g. via Skype calls, by travelling to the location of the volunteer for meetings).  All other work can be done remotely.

If you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return along with your CV to amy.hughes@theorsociety.com by Monday 18th June.

The OR Society and RNIB Fully support equal opportunities. As such, we welcome applications from the partially sighted or blind, or those with disabilities.

Information about the organisation:
RNIB promotes the interests of blind and partially sighted people and those at risk of sight loss, across the UK. They are led by a trustee board with over 80% blind and partially sighted people.  Over 33,000 people are part of RNIB Connect community, the vast majority of whom have sight loss. RNIB’s ambition is to change the world for those living with, and at risk of, sight loss. They take action to prevent avoidable sight loss, provide support and services to enable independence and campaign to create a fully inclusive society.

For further information about RNIB please visit https://www.rnib.org.uk/

For further information about the Pro Bono OR scheme please visit:
www.theorsociety.com/Probono  or email amy.hughes@theorsociety.com

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

New Pro Bono Project with Sabeel-Kairos




Sabeel-Kairos Project





Developing Policies and Procedures to Support Effective Governance


Project:
Sabeel-Kairos have identified a need to develop a set of policies and procedures (P&Ps) to ensure and support effective governance. The volunteer would work with the Trustees to agree priority areas based on a gap analysis that has recently been conducted. There is a need to research and identify standards and styles that will be appropriate for a small charity and then to write the initial drafts for approval by the trustees and staff.
Sabeel -Kairos has recently formed due to the merger of Friends of Sabeel UK with Kairos Britain (though the charity’s operating name remains as Friends of Sabeel UK). As such, they are in the early stages of defining their strategic and business plans.
The scope for the project is wide-ranging and could include P&Ps for employment, finance, procurement, IT and data protection. The project would be suitable for a volunteer with experience of governance and/or broad business management expertise such as setting-up systems for new organisations and HR.

Time commitment: 3-5 days

LocationPredominantly remote working, with communications facilitated through skype and/or email.

If you feel you are able to offer your assistance please complete the application form and return along with your CV to amy.hughes@theorsociety.com by Monday 18th June.

Information about the organisation:
Sabeel-Kairos is a small and energetic UK charity committed to supporting peace and justice in Palestine. They are a network of individuals, organisations and communities of all backgrounds across the UK who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people by promoting and advocating on the messages of Kairos Palestine and Sabeel Jerusalem here in the UK.

For further information about Sabeel-Kairos please visit http://www.kairosbritain.org.uk

For further information about the Pro Bono OR scheme please visit:
www.theorsociety.com/Probono  or email amy.hughes@theorsociety.com

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Pro Bono OR Spotlight May - Translating your experience across contexts







Pro Bono OR Spotlight May
Translating experience across contexts: Tips for helping charitable organisations and employers understand your CV and application
The OR’s Pro Bono work harnesses our volunteers’ expertise to solve some of society’s most pressing challenges.  Our previous volunteers have used their OR expertise to improve public health, strengthen communities and support educational programming for disadvantaged youth.
Hundreds of professionals from across the field of OR serve as volunteers with a wide range of deserving third sector organisations, including charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups.  They use their own approaches and skills to tackle challenging, often specialised operational issues that help make our third sector partners more efficient, equitable and effective.
Partnering the right volunteer with the right charitable organisation is central to what we do.
Translating experiences across professional and volunteer contexts, however, is often challenging. Volunteers are usually established professionals with long experience and weighty CVs.  However, when it comes to communicating with the third sector about volunteering, there may be more that you need to consider. Equally, it is not always obvious how to translate your pro bono volunteer experiences into meaningful professional contributions.
Translating your professional experience for the charity sector
One of our simplest strategies for partnering volunteers to charities involves sharing your single-page application form and CV with our partners (emailed via Pro Bono lead, Amy Hughes).  This allows them to consider the range of skills and candidates available to them, so they can choose who they would like to work on the project. Who better to know who would work best in their place of work that the organisation themselves.
However, while charities are often in desperate need of OR expertise, most are largely unaware of the related skills, specialisations and…jargon.
Operational Research, like any field, is full of specialised language.  This extends into professional CVs and - often - our volunteers’ Pro Bono applications.  Our third sector partners regularly struggle to interpret these minefields of OR ‘buzzwords’.
So here are some tips for prospective applicants to help ensure their CV and application translates across contexts:
●   Translate key professional jargon (skills, techniques, software and programmes) into language that you think non-experts are likely to understand.
●   Provide examples of key skills and methods so that non-experts, even if they do not immediately understand the concepts or terminology, can recognise their real-world value.
●     Adapt your CV to the role. What knowledge and skills do you have that this project requires? Volunteers may have some impressive experiences in the field of OR, but they may simply be redundant information to charities choosing the best applicant for their specific problem.
●     Do not be afraid to get personal - if you have a connection to the charity, share it! They want to know that you are as invested in their cause as they are.  
●     Get to know the charity. Remember charitable organisations are value-driven, each with a distinct vision and mission statement, so do your research and figure out if you’re a match. Then tailor your approach to the application accordingly, appealing to the aims and objectives of the charitable organisation you’re looking to work with.
●      Provide details about how you would approach the problem(s) identified in the charity’s project advert, and explain why you this is the most appropriate strategy.  Again, consider that your readers are likely to have a limited understanding of the OR field, so moderate your language and consider direct means of presentation, such a bulleted lists.
●      Also highlight other translatable skills that you think will compliment the organisation. The third sector is incredibly versatile, so show them that you are too.

Translating your volunteer experience for your professional CV
The Pro Bono OR process is constantly being refined to make it a mutually beneficial scheme. We recognise our volunteers’ enthusiasm and contributions, but also the importance of ensuring these experiences are meaningful, skill-building and helpful professionally.
It is not always immediately obvious, however, how to translate your volunteering into professional contexts.
Volunteering can offer a range of personal and professional benefits, including:
●      The opportunity to use your professional skills in an applied case that likely differs from your ‘everyday’ context.  Highlighting this versatility can be a valuable contribution to a professional CV, where employers often value adaptability.
●      Additional training. Charities regularly provide internal and external training to their volunteers and can contributing to your skillset.
●      Development of interpersonal skills. Employers want people who can work comfortably and constructively as part of mixed teams.
●      Experience in supervising, mentoring and coaching.
●      Knowledge about other sectors. Many of our volunteers come from the private sector, and volunteering can offer new exposure to the third sector, ranging from local community trusts to national public health initiatives, that can help build a rounded professional profile.
●      Light touch project management, including influencing others’ decision making and engaging with stakeholders from other sectors and fields.
●      Finally, the extensive skills list - Consultancy skills, Time management, priority management, problem-solving, strategic planning ability, flexibility and the ability to cope with pressure and challenges
Translating experiences across sectors and fields is essential to the success of OR’s Pro Bono work, ensuring the right match between volunteers and charities, while ensuring that volunteer experiences are professionally meaningful.
To sign-up for more information about Pro Bono OR, including upcoming volunteer opportunities email amy.hughes@theorsociety.com.
To apply for a specific project, fill out our single-page application form.
These simple steps are all you need to join a project that will change your outlook, your CV and a charitable organisation’s ability to succeed.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

A great introduction to the charity sector from David Ainsworth and why you should get involved!


Here is a great introduction to the charity sector to help budding but unfamiliar volunteers navigate and widen their understanding of the third sector and its diversity. Ainsworth offers an easy to read framework offering clear boundaries for a sector whose edges are often viewed as becoming more porous by the day.
According to the charity commission there are currently over 168,000 charities in England and Wales alone1, not including the tens of thousands of charities who do not have to register due to having an annual income below £5,000. With this is mind, it is unsurprising that clear cut definitions are often hard to come by for the charity sector.
If you need to know only one thing about the sector then it is the word ‘diverse’. Diversity is a key characteristic and strength of the third sector; that comprises charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups, each of whom serve diverse communities and have a wide spectrum of activity. Whilst varying in size, scope and mission statements, their shared constant is always the delivery of essential services and a contribution to UK economic growth.
In 2015 alone, 83% of UK households used a charity service2 , highlighting our nation’s reliance on this valuable sector. With the majority of charities funding coming from ‘voluntary income’ (put simply as donations and core funding grants from Government or other charities) it means that uncertainty in the future abounds as current cuts in public funding increase.
As such, it is important to highlight the vital role volunteers play in supporting the running of, and continued service provision of the third sector. A diverse sector offers diverse job opportunities so, whatever your current career, taking a dip into this area should provide you with valuable skills for the future.
So read up, be inspired and get ready as national volunteer week is just around the corner!

In text references:


Friday, 25 May 2018

Taking the reins and ready to ride - The new face of Pro Bono






Hi all,

Just to let you know, my name is Amy Hughes and I will be the new face of Pro Bono OR as of July 2018, taking over from Hope Meadows. I know that I have a lot to live up to after all of Hope’s great work, but as she moves onto new experiences in the beautiful country of Uganda, I will do my best to sustain the progress that Pro Bono has and continues to make.   


Sparing you any ‘A New Hope’ Star Wars puns, I would like to take a minute and introduce myself.  I have a passion for travel, charity work and activism and managed to combine all of these following the completion of my Bachelor's degree, moving to the USA and volunteering my time to help undeserved communities. Upon my return to the UK I have worked in project management and policy for the third sector, spending the last couple of years at two Birmingham based charities. As such, I have worked heavily with both service providers and users to increase efficiency and empower vulnerable communities and individuals. This experience has given me the invaluable opportunity to understand the inner workings of the charity sector; their wants, needs and pressures.

My small role in an incredibly large sector,  that although was not always the most efficient, was producing incredibly meaningful change, made me realise I wanted to be part of something bigger, a larger role to bring about a larger change. So here I am. 

Having used OR in multiple sectors and settings, it is easy to see its versatility and the change it can create to those with charitable aims within the third sector. I am excited to take on the opportunity to harness the power of the OR society in helping civil society groups and charitable organisations tackle issues and make a real difference. 

To me, Pro Bono OR is all about recognising the incredible charitable work undertaken across the UK and attempting to sustainably develop charities no matter their size or scope and also to continue to up-skill our already talented volunteers.

I look forward to engaging with many of you throughout my new role! If you wish to get in touch my email is amy.hughes@theorsociety.com   

As business continues as usual, don't forget to get involved with our upcoming events and register for our 'All About Data' on 7th June, 2-5pm - our OR in the Third Sector Special Interest Group’s joint meeting with the Royal Statistical Society! Speakers include Silvia Laraia, Tracey Gyateng and Amaka Nwagbara.
Register now and find out more information here: http://bit.ly/2ruH7sL 



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

'All About Data' event - 7th June

OR in the Third Sector Special Interest Group. Joint Meeting with the Royal Statistical Society
Data is the lifeblood of much Operational Research and statistical work in charities. Whether that be for informing day-to-day management decisions; forecasting future trends and demand; or, evaluating the impact of the organisation’s activities. The speakers will look at some of the practical difficulties in identifying and using appropriate data. They will also consider how the value added by the analyst’s contribution might be enhanced.
Speakers include:
Silvia Laraia (Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Contact a Family) Issues and challenges in the use of data in a small/medium size charity; and ,
Tracey Gyateng (Data Science Manager, DataKind UK) The charitable data policy context, highlighting key challenges and emerging trends. Her research provides actionable recommendations to build a more enabling environment for data collection, analysis and sharing.
Amaka Nwagbara (membership engagement manager, Royal Statistical Society) will also highlight Statisticians for Society, a pro bono scheme by the Royal Statistical Society which aims to aid third sector organisations in need of data and analytical support.
The event will commence with a short AGM for the OR in the Third Sector Special Interest Group. Starting at 1pm.

Register now to attend the 'All About Data' event on 7 June in London:

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The OR Society's Volunteer Celebration 2018

SW18 9th Simulation Workshop
The OR Society's Volunteer Celebration 2018 

Where: IET, London
When: Tuesday 12th June 2018
Time: 18:00-20:00

We invite you to join our 2018 ORS Volunteer Celebration, an event where we're taking the time to say thank you for your continued effort and collaboration for The OR Society.

Pro Bono OR and OR in Schools are two arms of the OR Society that have continued to grow and reach even more people this year - and that has only been possible due to your help and support. The UK’s national volunteer week (a dedicated week celebrating all the wonderful things volunteers do) is fast approaching, and we're getting into the spirit, carrying on celebrations into the weeks ahead.

The voluntary sector contributes £12.2bn to the UK economy, with 41% of the population volunteering at least once a year. Humbled at the thought of contributing to these outstanding stats, we are delighted to have Emma Thomas-Hancock, Director of Volunteer Operations at Volunteering Matters, come and share with us more of these figures. We will also hear some first-hand accounts from our ORS volunteers about the roles they have taken on and how our strategic projects have been mutually beneficial.

The evening will provide networking opportunities and light refreshments.

To help us celebrate success and find out more information about ORS opportunities, please sign up for free on eventbrite.

We hope to see you there!

New Pro Bono Project with RNIB

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Project Prioritising areas of focus for RNIB’s new 3-year strategy Project : ...