Thursday, 27 November 2014

Pro Bono O.R. - Recruiting new volunteers

As you may be aware The OR Society launched its O.R. Pro Bono initiative for UK based third sector organisations in September 2013. The society wants more organisations to benefit from operational research and recognises that third sector organisations have an even greater need to be more efficient.

The success of the scheme has outweighed our expectations.  In the first year we completed 7 projects, are currently working on 14 others and have more than 10 that are at the initial scoping stage.  The response from both the organisations and the volunteers has been overwhelmingly positive, the difference Pro Bono O.R. has made to some of the organisations in such a short space of time has been significant.  The volunteers have all provided 100% positive feedback having enjoyed the experience, learnt new skills, gained valuable experience working in another sector and made new connections.

The success of the scheme means we are now recruiting for more volunteers across the UK.  Signing up as a volunteer requires no commitment.  Volunteers receive emails about projects that require volunteers and then it is up to the volunteer whether to respond or not.  Volunteering can be done in individuals own time or as part of a company volunteer days (or a mix).  Projects can also be carried out by individuals, pairs or teams.  Mentoring and quality assurance roles are also required.

For more information on the project please visit:  To sing up to become a volunteer please take a few moments to complete the online volunteers details form:

For any queries please contact me directly.  Please pass this on to team members or anyone else in the O.R. profession who you think might be interested.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A few good reasons to volunteer

I came across a few articles today that promote volunteering, not only because it can contribute to 'the greater good' but because it can also be good for you!

This first article claims that volunteering can boost physical and mental health - so much so that it recommends that doctors should encourage patients to volunteer.

This second article says 'Research has found that having wide-ranging interests outside of work - particularly volunteering - can help improve your productivity and wellbeing.'- Josephine Fairley 

Lastly this article encourages us to take our skills Pro Bono (exactly what our Pro Bono O.R. volunteers are doing)

If you didn't already think volunteering was a great idea then maybe these articles have convinced you.  There are a number of ways to get involved in volunteering; if you have O.R./analytical skills why not sign up to Pro Bono O.R.

Other useful links:
Career volunteer (recruits trustees and skilled volunteers):
Reach Skills (skilled volunteering charity):
Cranfield Trust (providing free business skills):

Monday, 24 November 2014

Another successful project and positive outcomes all round!

The latest triumph for Pro Bono O.R. is with a small charity that supports families and individuals facing a wide range of trauma or tragedy.

The Charity was two years into planned expansion of its services and were seeking advice on a particular element of it.  The case study slide below gives more detail:

The feedback from the Charity was fantastic.  Here's what the CEO had to say about the volunteer: 
'He was absolutely brilliant. He was able to review complex issues and get straight to the heart of what was going wrong. He was then really flexible and agreed to work with the Chair and myself to resolve our roles and move forward together.'

When asked what difference this work would make to the organisation this was her response: 
'We are taking his advice forward to create a detailed business plan as well as to guide the work of the Board. This is going to make the organisation move forward professionally and will ensure sustainability.'

We are delighted to hear Pro Bono O.R. is having such a positive impact.  
To find out more about Pro Bono O.R., to recieve support or to sign up to volunteer please visit: Pro Bono O.R.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pro Bono O.R.:Reaching new heights

Well what an exciting month November has turned out to be for Pro Bono O.R. I have made some great connections and the scheme has generated the most number of monthly project leads to date.  Really looking forward to seeing the impact O.R. will make to these organisations and hearing the feedback from both the organisations and volunteers.
Pro Bono O.R. is all about helping third sector organisations, whether that is by increasing efficiency, helping to reduce costs, plan strategy or demonstrate impact, there is usually a way O.R. can help.  
This month Pro Bono O.R. has also gone global with the American OR Society (INFORMS) set to launch their own Pro Bono O.R. scheme in 2015.  One of our own members of the Pro Bono O.R. steering group went over to San Francisco to present a talk about Pro Bono O.R. at the INFORMS conference.
This month we have 10 new projects leads from third sector organisations across the country.  Many of these are as a result of cross working with other schemes.  A few months ago I heard that the Government Statistical Service (GSS) had teamed up with NCVO to launch the 'Voluntary Sector Placement Scheme for Government Statisticians'.  This scheme seeks to match up voluntary sector organisations with government statisticians for short placements.  As this scheme was similar to our own I got in touch to find out more.  As a result they had several project requests that best suited Pro Bono O.R. and that they were able to pass on.
I've had some really beneficial meetings, one of which was with the Head of Charities and Social Enterprise at Baker Tilly.  We are working together to hold a breakfast event in 2015 to promote Pro Bono O.R to charity leaders.  Additionally we are planning to hold a workshop in Cambridge similar to the one we held at GMCVO which will explain what Pro Bono O.R. is and look at how it can help improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Could you organisation benefit from Pro Bono O.R. or are you an O.R. professional who would like to volunteer some time to work on Pro Bono O.R. projects?  I'd love to hear from you

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Pro Bono O.R. making an impact

I was thrilled to receive an email yesterday from Mary Dawson, CEO of Springboard, saying what an impact Pro Bono O.R. had made. Springboard is one of the charities Pro Bono O.R. has worked with. Springboard works through skilled tutors, trained volunteers and secondary school peers, to improve literacy in challenged schools and communities.
The slide below outlines the work a Pro Bono O.R. volunteer carried out with the charity.
Mary got in touch to share their latest impact report (covering 13/14 academic year). In her words 'Thank you again for the support we received through The OR Society which made this work possible.'
I am so pleased to see how Pro Bono O.R. is making a difference not only to Springbaord but all the other third sector organisations that Pro Bono O.R. is working with.
To find out more about Pro Bono O.R. please visit our webpage or email

Monday, 3 November 2014

What are the pitfalls and issues for Pro Bono O.R. consultants - and how can we avoid them?

Ruth Kaufman ran a workshop at OR56 (The OR's Society's annual conference) titled -

Doing well at doing good: What makes a Pro Bono project successful

The purpose of the workshop was twofold:

1)  The Third Sector - including charities, social enterprises, mutual and indeed any 
organisations that are not part of the private or state sectors - is Different. And doing 
O.R. as a volunteer rather than as a paid person or student is also Different. But does 

that mean that you need to approach the project differently?

2) This workshop brought together people interested in how to make pro bono projects 
run smoothly, to share experiences on the pitfalls and opportunities of Pro Bono O.R.

These were the outputs: 
  • Identified and prioritised those factors that need to be right if a project is to be successful 
  • Identified key issues for pro bono practitioners related to those factors 
  • Identified other issues that pro bono practitioners must bear in mind 
  • Identified some ‘wish-list’ items that would help pro bono practitioners. 
To read the write up please click here

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