Exchanging valuable learning experiences for your time…
It’s rewarding enough to volunteer your time and skills to a worthy cause, but this month’s featured charity, Time Auction, sweetens the deal by offering exclusive experiences for your hours. After clocking just 10 hours of volunteer work, you could redeem a seat at a cocktail mixology class, go on a scuba diving excursion, join an outdoor detox yoga session or meet a celebrity!
Ever since the pandemic hit, NGOs have been struggling to get by on reduced funding, so the demand for skilled volunteers is greater now more than ever. All they ask for is your time, and thanks to Time Auction, you will get so much more in return. To find out more about the exciting learning opportunities and how to get involved, we spoke to Time Auction’s Co-founder and CEO Fion Leung. Read on to discover how you can help fuel the charity’s volunteer movement.
Tell us about Time Auction? What is it you do?
Time Auction is a charity that advocates volunteerism. We encourage volunteering by offering exciting learning experiences, while also helping other NGOs to connect with skilled volunteers. By volunteering your time and skills to a non-profit, you will gain access to some amazing experiences that will allow you to hone your skills or explore your passion – from learning to cook from Michelin-starred chefs to dining with inspiring entrepreneurs.
My co-founder Suetyi and I started Time Auction as a side project in 2014 outside of our day jobs in finance. The project quickly gained traction and became a registered charity three years later, and has since expanded to nine other cities (international chapters are volunteer run). As of February 2021, almost 80,000 volunteer hours have been contributed to redeem nearly 900 learning experiences.
With our diverse volunteer community, we started helping other NGOs recruit skilled volunteers from 2019, and launched a tech platform in August 2020. Through the platform, NGOs can easily recruit volunteers, and interested applicants can apply to volunteer in projects that suit their skills, interests and capacity. To date, almost 3,000 skilled volunteers have been matched with 250 NGOs on over 600 projects, from digital marketing to photography!
Why is the work of Time Auction important?
Due to COVID-19, 93% of the NGOs in Hong Kong are facing reduced funding. They’ve suddenly been forced to move their activities online while responding to rapidly increasing demand for their services, and many are struggling to do more with less. They can use all the help they can get, and this is where having a network of skilled volunteers comes in handy.
NGOs don’t have many channels to turn to where they can find such volunteers. The majority of NGOs rely on their own circle of contacts for recruitment and, as a result, 83% of them cannot fill all the roles that need to be filled. Our platform helps NGOs access pro-bono expertise when they need it. For example, we recruited nine video editors to help an educational charity create class videos so that underprivileged students could continue learning online while schools were closed. We also recruited three digital marketers to promote a new scholarship programme that would aid those who became unemployed due to COVID-19 and help them learn new skills. (See more of our impact highlights here.)
We found out that only 17% of Hong Kong people volunteer (lagging behind 58% in the UK and 26% in Japan), so there’s great potential to increase participation. After donating their time, our volunteers are able to redeem our learning experiences — making it that much sweeter to volunteer!
How can we help?
There is something for everyone to get involved in on our platform! Here’s how you can help:
- Volunteer your skills – Check out our platform featuring 60+ new volunteer projects per month that need your support!
- Sponsor an experience – we’re looking for empowering learning experiences to feature in order to encourage more people to volunteer. If you have any ideas, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be our corporate partner – encourage your staff/colleagues to volunteer. Learn more by emailing email@example.com.
- Donate – make a tax-deductible donation here to fuel our volunteer movement.