How Sonal Honed Marketing Skills Through Skilled-Volunteering | Swire Trust Go-Givers of 2021

Together with Time Auction, the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program encourages skilled volunteers for Swire Trust NGOs partners from 2020 to 2022. 10 outstanding volunteers will be selected annually as the “Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year” with special rewards & recognition. Meet our 10 Go-Givers of 2021!

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Meet Sonal!

Sonal is a Strategy Manager at multi-billion-dollar American specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc. , with extensive experience devising communications plans and marketing strategies and managing multi-stakeholder business transformation projects. With her industry expertise, and dedication towards generating a positive impact in society, she decided to embark on a skilled-volunteering journey with Time Auction.

Before coming across Time Auction, Sonal was already a frequent volunteer for Crossroads Foundation - a humanitarian NGO in Hong Kong - helping to manage their donations. She also worked with the CSR teams in her previous companies, promoting volunteerism among the staff.

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Skilled Volunteering as an opportunity for career development

Through Linkedin, Sonal discovered Time Auction and the concept of skilled volunteering. As a frequent volunteer with a professional background, the concept of volunteering her professional skills immediately resonated with her.  

“I have always wanted to generate a positive impact using my skills, and as I was considering starting my own marketing consultancy, this was a great opportunity to test out whether I can work independently to build out a strategy.” 

“Browsing the varied opportunities available, I applied for a project that best matched my marketing capabilities.” Following this, Sonal matched with Outward Bound Hong Kong, an NGO that focuses on youth development through outdoor adventures. They were looking for a Marketing Strategist to create marketing strategies to grow their brand value and reach potential clients. She reflected on how “it was a great opportunity for me to gain marketing consulting experience because my previous experience was all in-house”. 

“I familiarized myself with the fundamental operations of the non-profit organization, and joined them on their journey. By understanding the organization from the inside out, I came to admire their work even more.”

Over the course of three months, Sonal created a marketing plan for Outward Bound, which provided them with an analysis of the market, competitor intelligence, customer segments, plus quantifiable marketing goals with clear timelines and deliverables. She also worked closely with the team to coach them on the execution of the strategies. “It was great working with them! They were very committed and transparent in the process, which allowed me to really understand their goals and better utilize their efforts.”

“With skills-based-volunteering, it’s a very customized experience. You are using your own unique talents to help the organization in a specific way.” The marketing skills that Sonal provided helped Outward Bound achieve their longer-term goals. It also helped her with her own personal development. “I was able to walk away with something I could add to my portfolio, which was helpful for my own career development and advancement in the future. While that may not be the main objective of volunteering, it’s definitely a nice added bonus.”

Congratulations on Sonal’s well-deserved recognition!

"Sonal was able to handle a big marketing project for us which we highly appreciate. She worked with our team very closely, proposing different strategies to increse and grow our reach, and coached our staff along the way about the strategy as well. She also assisted with managing our social media channels."

Maddie Harris, Outward Bound Hong Kong

When it came to being selected as one of the Swire Trust Go-Givers of The Year, Sonal was genuinely surprised by the news. “I was not expecting it at all! I don't volunteer for the recognition, but it is such an honor to receive the recognition since I poured my heart and soul into the project, and even became an advocate for the organization along the way.” She hopes that it will encourage more people to volunteer their skills to NGOs in need.

Lastly, Sonal offered her words of encouragement to people considering volunteering their skills - “Skill-based volunteering allows you to generate much greater impact with the time that you offer; not only are you helping the organization grow and continue their amazing work, you are also growing your own abilities.”

If you’re looking for career exploration, networking, and skill building, volunteering your skills is the perfect way to go!

Thank you so much to Sonal for contributing 45 volunteer hours to Outward Bound Hong Kong, with more to come!

To see details of the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program and support their NGOs partners, head over to Time Auction website.

Interviewed & written by Leo Chick | Edited by Emma Lascelles

Updated on 10 November, 2021
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