Joe Kunkel donates his expertise to local nonprofits
After Joe Kunkel retired from his career with CarMax in 2014, he realized that he needed a way to stay mentally and socially active – and he was especially interested in finding ways to support his community.
“Most of my career had been spent building skills in marketing, strategy, and managing people, so I wanted to find ways to use those skills to help others,” Joe said. “One obvious way for me to do that was working with startups in the for-profit sector, since my wife and I had started a business earlier in our careers and we had enjoyed working with entrepreneurs. I also felt, however, that that was not enough. While working, I had not had much time to help with nonprofits, and I felt that I should use my skills to see if I could help that sector as well.”
Through the business connections he made during his career and through conversations with staff at the Community Foundation, Joe has since found numerous ways to contribute his expertise and passion to the needs of local organizations. He lent his strategic planning and executive leadership skills to two school districts and several nonprofits, including Homeward, the planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the greater Richmond region.
One of Homeward’s core functions is to facilitate service coordination among providers and partners in Greater Richmond to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness.
“Working with Joe has been transformational for us,” said Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward. “After talking to him about our work, he helped us identify our need for strategic communications, or how we share our needs and challenges more effectively with our target audience. He and I have worked together on ways we can convey the big picture ideas behind the complex nature of homelessness and homeless services, which can be hard for us to see sometimes because we’re so close to our work.”
Joe says that he gets just as much benefit out of his volunteer experiences. “I get to meet with highly skilled, very engaged people that are great at what they do … and in ideal circumstances I get to help them in some way,” he said. “I also get intellectual stimulation and social interaction while not needing to take on the responsibilities of being a full-time leader or manager.”
The nonprofit sector has seen an increased demand for skills-based volunteering like what Joe does. Professionals are seeking to share their talents and expertise to strengthen the capacity of local nonprofits and, at the same time, organizations are striving to create meaningful volunteer experiences while stretching resources and expanding their impact. Skills-based volunteering is where both needs can be met. For example, a nonprofit working on reviewing their financial policies can connect with a volunteer with a background in accounting.
To match skilled volunteers to the needs of local organizations, the Community Foundation has launched a new pilot program called Skills Connect. This online system helps nonprofits develop and post skills-based volunteer opportunities that are well-scoped and structured to accomplish a key goal. The system then allows volunteers to express interest in volunteer opportunities, which nonprofits can accept based on the skills needed for the project and the skills offered by the volunteer.
“Skills-based volunteering isn’t new, but it can be difficult to coordinate, so Skills Connect makes it easier for volunteers to connect with the organizations they’re interested in — and easier for nonprofits to find volunteers who are qualified for specialized projects,” said Alan Delbridge, Nonprofit Program Manager with the Community Foundation. “We’re always looking for new ways to connect good people to purpose-driven action, and Skills Connect is another way to make that happen.”
For individuals who might be considering skills-based volunteering, Joe believes it’s worth your time. “I think many people that have donor advised funds have more than money to give to nonprofits, and they could try to provide some of the benefits of their expertise as well,” Joe said.
To learn more about Skills Connect and how you can get involved, visit the Skills Connect webpage or contact Gail Cavallaro, Volunteer Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.