Caroline’s story: From dog walking to long-serving volunteer

Volunteering primarily is about giving back. Using your existing skills to help a charity is the perfect way to help. In celebration of International Volunteer Day, our own volunteer Caroline Osborne, shares her story.
Caroline Osborne

Posted by Pennies

Published 5 December, 2019

Pennies was started by volunteers. And to this day, two of our longest serving members continue to give their time for free! In celebration of #InternationalVolunteerDay, our marketing volunteer, Caroline Osborne has shared her story. From her first ever dog walking role to her time here at Pennies.

I’ve volunteered all my life. When only a teenager, I walked a German Sheppard dog, helping out an elderly lady for three years. Every Saturday I would give up my afternoon to amble through the woods, throwing numerous sticks, getting wet and muddy in the process. As a young adult I progressed to planting hundreds of trees, making me somewhat of an expert in the identification of whips. But once I entered the world of Marketing, I wanted put my knowledge and experience to good use. After all, every charity or local organisation needs to promote what they do.

Thus started a stint in the Chartered Institute of Marketing running the local branch. At the same time I was helping the Princes Trust giving marketing advice to their young entrepreneurs. Then there was being chairman of my Netball club, an ambassador for Cancer Research UK and promoting the Rugby team. I am sad to say, the altruistic blood donation idea didn’t go as well, after I almost fainted on both attempts.

Finding Pennies

Seven years ago, I found Pennies. A small team with a big purpose. Today, there are just 17 of us, including two volunteers, but together, we have managed to get someone to donate with Pennies every 1.6 seconds, for all manner of charities. By encouraging many retailers and technology companies to join us. We have to-date, raised over £20m and I am very proud to say I have played a small part in this success.

So what do I do? And more importantly, why do I stay? I work in the Marketing and Communication team, helping out on those ‘need to do, but not urgent’ marketing projects. It’s those things that never get done in a busy office. And because I am not bogged down with the daily grind and those never ending, ‘urgent and important things’ on the ‘to do’ list, I can take my time to think. Hopefully coming up with the right solution that is simple, workable, scalable and of course, fits in with the Pennies values.

From time to time I also put my strategic hat on, helping support the team in some of the big marketing and branding decisions that come up.  When needed, I update the website, homing my new found talent in WordPress. And, so I’ve been told, I’m also an excellent badge maker and welcome host at the Pennies events.

My time at Pennies has been enjoyable and well spent. Every day we are making a real difference to all manner of worthy causes close to my heart. Its flexible and I can give my time on my own terms. I can work when I want and where I want. If I want I can work from home, but I love coming into work. Feeling part of a team, being part of the office buzz, working with different age groups and having a laugh. I have a real sense of belonging and I feel my opinion matters.

Why do it?

Is what I do completely altruistic? If I’m totally honest, no. You see, after a successful career, I’m now a full time Mum. So, although I want to keep my marketing brain ticking over, I don’t need to practice these skills everyday to retain them. However, if I use these skills to give back to the community, its enough to keep them fresh. But it’s more than that. The digital world has exploded and I don’t want to be left behind, outdated and obsolete. So where better to keep me up-to-date with the use of social media, mobile, online, apps etc. in marketing and communications, than in a fintech charity. One that works across all channels and in many industry sectors.

Volunteering primarily is about giving back. Using your existing skills to help a charity or local organisation is the perfect way to help. But by finding the right role, in the right organisation, with the right people, the volunteer gains too. Finding a flexible, enjoyable and meaningful volunteer experience. Somewhere you can learn a thing or two, whist also being impactful with what time you can give, is achievable.

That’s exactly what I have at Pennies. I’m extremely lucky to have found such a perfect fit to my skills and the time I give to it. Over the years I have watched Pennies grow and have had a hand in what is, an amazing success story so far. So think carefully when you chose your volunteering role. And you too can make a big difference as part of a team, whist at the same time, learning and enjoying yourself.

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