Business leaders say working with charities makes them happier and improves their skills


A survey by the charity Pilotlight found that nearly 90% of senior business executives who have been through their skills sharing programme said engaging with charities improved their sense of wellbeing and happiness. The findings also show that although 8 in 10 senior executives got involved with charities to ‘give something back’, nearly two-thirds (62%) found it increased their own job satisfaction.

The survey of over 130 Pilotlight business members across England and Scotland found that over a third of people who volunteered through their company had been actively encouraged by their employer to get involved.

Coming on the eve of #GivingTuesday, a global campaign to encourage people to get involved with charities, the survey reveals that two-thirds of business people said volunteering had increased their desire to donate, while 87% said they were more interested in becoming a charity trustee. More than 95% of those questioned said that volunteering with Pilotlight had increased their understanding of the challenges facing people in need and their appreciation of the work of charities and social enterprises.

Pilotlight’s chief executive, Gillian Murray, says: “85% of business leaders in our survey said they had improved their coaching skills after working with charities and have a much better understanding of the charity sector as well. The survey results demonstrate that a carefully managed approach to skills sharing allows the time-poor, skills-rich professional to engage with charities in an effective and meaningful way.”

Erna de Ruijter, Head of People – Support, Virgin Media says: “Volunteering with Pilotlight has been very enriching, helping me connect more with some of life’s pressing societal challenges. The passion from Pilotlight and the charities it supports has been contagious and it is wonderful to see charities develop as a result of the professional skills and experience we have shared with them. We actively encourage Virgin Media people to volunteer – it enriches their working lives and benefits the charities our people support. Working with Pilotlight has enabled us to have an even more positive impact on society.”

Managing Director of Schuh and joint founder of the Schuh Trust, Colin Temple, says: “By working with various charities through Pilotlight I have gained a unique insight into how I can help in a manner that goes much deeper than just giving a cash donation. It has helped me make sense of how best to direct any charitable donations I wish to make. At the same time I feel good about being able to use my skills and do something practical to help others.”

Dr Beth Breeze, Director of the Philanthropy Centre at the University of Kent, says: “There is a wealth of research pointing to the personal benefits of altruism – from physiological benefits to the cardiovascular and nervous system, to social benefits such as larger friendship groups, to ‘ultimate benefits’ such as a greater sense of life satisfaction. Most volunteers intuitively know this to be true – whilst observers only see them giving, the volunteer is aware how much they are also receiving.”

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