Helen rises to the challenge:

Making the most of corporate volunteering

Habitat for Humanity is a phenomenal charity.  Through its work, lives are changed for the better every day, by the creation of safe and secure places for people to call home, in some of the poorest and most challenging regions of the world.

When I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity through my company to participate in a build with Habitat for Humanity GB, my first thoughts were about how I was going to make a difference, and change the lives of people I’d never met.  What I didn’t realise was how positively it would impact my own life, in so many small ways that come together as a big change.

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The adventure begins

My application to Habitat for Humanity GB was somewhat spur of the moment, one of those decisions that you take and think if you complete it quickly you will forget all about. I probably didn’t expect to be selected, and when that “congratulations, you’ve been successful” email comes through, there’s an initial rush of fear that comes with the excitement of such a major undertaking.

How will I raise those kinds of funds? I have to do what I said I’d do now! (in my case that included running a half marathon and organising a corporate event! Where will I be going?  What will it be like?  How will I fit in with the team?

But that’s where the change started: being thrust immediately out of my comfort zone. Suddenly introduced into a brand-new group of people I’d never previously met, from various regions and sectors of the business, with a common goal of mammoth fundraising, to reach our shared target. What seemed like a daunting prospect immediately started to seem more achievable when we sat down together to discuss our plans and motivate each other.

Ready, set, go!

I proposed participation in the Royal Parks Half Marathon and the enthusiasm from some of my other team members to join me in this race, is doubtlessly a big part of what got me round those thirteen miles!

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However that was just the start. Being a part of the motivation for the running team inspired me to go on to organise a larger private fundraising function (a wine bar quiz night), involving seeking corporate raffle sponsors, selling tickets, and generally bullying everyone I’d met commercially into participating. Standing at the front of a large group, with a microphone introducing the charity’s work and my involvement in the project, my confidence started to develop in ways I could not have anticipated, by pushing myself into situations I’d previously have avoided.

It helped me to recognise the strength of relationships that I had built within my personal network, that could thereby benefit the company as well as Habitat for Humanity GB, and ultimately myself.

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What are the benefits for your company?

A company will see the benefits to their staff, developing skills outside of the normal work environment, which are transferable; these skills are first and foremost, team-focused. The support of a company to a Habitat for Humanity GB build scheme will not only show its commitment to social responsibility outside of the usual working practices, but also recognises the importance of work-life balance to its own staff, which is very much in line with my own company’s strategy. This ultimately demonstrates the features of a company that people want to work for, which builds loyalty and commitment from its staff.

Both the fundraising and the build scheme help to develop core leadership qualities, offering a great opportunity for women to develop these skills with a long-term benefit to their career paths.  I have personally been promoted into a role with increased leadership and responsibility since the build, and the skills acquired during the experience have unquestionably been instrumental in this.

Building with Habitat for Humanity gave me the opportunity to contribute to places that people can now call home in Battambang, Cambodia, an incredible experience that I will never forget. By bringing positives to others’ lives, I couldn’t possibly have previously known how enriched my own would be.

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This post was written by Helen, one of our amazing volunteers who participated in a corporate build with AON. 

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