What’s it like to volunteer with Pro Bono OR?

Eve Hardy, Pro Bono Manager

I spend a lot of time talking about why you should volunteer with Pro Bono OR (it’s good fun, you can stretch your OR skills and give something back!). I want to spend some time talking about what volunteering with Pro Bono actually looks like.

How do you apply for a project?

Sign up for Pro Bono emails so you are notified every time we have a new project. If you see an interesting project, complete the application form. This is like a job application (Why do you want to work on this project? Tell us about your relevant skills/ experience). My top tip here is include as much detail as you can: charities select volunteers based on this application form so you want them to get a feel for you.

After the deadline I pass every application over to the charity, who select the volunteer(s) they want to work with. If that’s you, I’ll send you an email to check whether you’re still interested and available. If you are, I introduce you to the charity so your project can begin.

How do you start a project?

The best way to start a project is to meet with the charity to get to know them and discuss the project. I’ll give you a project plan template and recommend turning this into a project plan as step one. This lets you turn the high-level project advert into a step by step plan, breaking down the project into smaller tasks. It also lets you and the charity discuss any deadlines/dates to be aware of (perhaps you’ve got a holiday booked, or they need to apply for funding before the deadline). You can also discuss the practicalities of the project, such as getting access to data you need to analyse or being introduced to stakeholders you’ll be working with.

Once your project is up and running

I will periodically get in touch and ask how things are going on the project. However, you are able to ask for help and support at any time – just send me an email. We also have resources available on our website (link below) for things like project management, quality assurance and measuring impact, so do take a look at them and ask for help if needed.

How do you end a project?

Once your project is finished, let me know. I will arrange for a wrap up session with you, the charity, and Pro Bono OR. We will collect some feedback from everyone and formally close the project.

What’s next?

We ask volunteers to write a short case study outlining how their project went and what the results were. If you’ve done that and still want more, consider presenting your case study at an OR Society event. You can also volunteer for another Pro Bono project!

If you’re interested in Pro Bono OR you can learn more, and sign up, here: https://bit.ly/ProBonoOR