Sarah Murphy, 36 – Researcher, Business Owner, Volunteer

A wonderful example of skilled volunteering as part of our special National Volunteering Week series where we speak to seven volunteers about what they do, why they do it and what advice they have for others. Share your story with us on Twitter using #WhyIVolunteer and #NVW2019.

Sarah is a Research Consultant and Lecturer in social policy, leadership and management in the community, non-profit and public sector. She has worked in research, policy and management roles in a number of different national and international charities. Sarah moved to Sligo from Dublin with her husband and two young children 18 months ago.

Sarah volunteers on the board of Sligo Volunteer Centre. Given her work as a Research Consultant, she has a particular interest in evaluation, strategic planning and governance. Having been part of a non-profit board when she lived in Dublin, she wanted to find something similar in Sligo. Sarah was particularly keen to find a board volunteer role as she felt she had very specific skills that could really help a small organisation.

Since joining the board, she has taken an active role in helping the Volunteer Centre develop their new strategic plan. Aside from attending board meetings, Sarah has also used her professional skills to support the strategic planning process by analysing previous annual reports and facilitating a focus group among staff to help shape future work.

We asked Sarah if being on a board was a big time commitment given that she has her own consultancy and a young family. “The great thing about being on a board is you can be as active as you would like to be. We meet about 6 times a year but I’ve been a lot more involved this year during the strategic planning process. It can be challenging sometimes with work and childcare but in general it is very manageable, especially when meetings are planned in advance so I can organise around them”.

What advice would she give someone who never volunteered before? “I’d definitely recommend getting involved. Be realistic about the time you can give and then look at what your strengths are and find something that works for you. It is very rewarding and there are so many different volunteering opportunities out there. Even if you only have 2 hours to give every month, that’s a valid commitment and could really help an organisation. I really get a boost from seeing my skills have an impact on the Volunteer Centre. As someone who recently moved to Sligo, I also found it was a great way to learn about the area and the local community.”

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