Two-thirds of business leaders volunteer to improve skills


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Business leaders increasingly see charity work as an opportunity to improve their skills in business, according to a report by the University of Kent and Pilotlight, an organisation that connects businesses with charities.

The research, Philanthropic Journeys, is based on a survey of more than 225 senior executives carried out by Dr Beth Breeze, report author and director of the Centre of Philanthropy at University of Kent.

While the top reason given for volunteering at charities is to give something back (80%) learning new skills for their roles is the second biggest factor (68%).

The report also suggests senior executives who volunteer are three times more likely to become a charity trustee.

Despite these intentions, some barriers remain for executives thinking about getting involved in charity work. The biggest factors are a lack of time (81%) and not believing that skills gained in the private sector will be of use to charities (66%).

Breeze says the main benefits charity work can bring to executives' workplace skills include "problem solving, mentoring and thinking strategically".

Sam Berwick, former chief executive of Mizuho International, said volunteering is more meaningful and useful than donating to charity.

"I’m now a trustee for various charities, something that I wouldn’t have considered before," he said. "Through working with charities I’ve also improved my own business skills and it’s given me a totally different perspective outside of my working life.”

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