Engaging talented volunteers via corporate partnerships: Powercoders
Powercoders is a nonprofit organization based in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis, their mission is to promote equal job opportunities for talented individuals with a refugee or migrant background in the IT industry. The nonprofit provides learning courses, interview preparation, internships, and job opportunities, empowering IT-skilled refugees and migrants to regain their independence. To fulfill their goals, the organization relies on around 150 volunteers coming from an array of skilled professional backgrounds.
In a recent interview with Andrina Beuggert, the Impact Initiatives & Alumni Engagement Lead at Powercoders, we talked about the key benefits of corporate partnerships — to not only reduce administrative work and save time for the organization, but also to increase volunteer engagement and recruitment and make a greater impact on their mission.
We are thrilled to be using Benevity because it is an effective way for us to reach highly-skilled and motivated volunteers, as the platform allows us to reach corporations with employees possessing specific expertise required for our mentorship program.
Powercoders: promoting equal opportunities in the IT industry
How long have you been working at Powercoders and what inspired you to start?
I have been with Powercoders for almost four years now. Before joining the company, I worked with Syrian youth in Jordan. When I decided to return to Switzerland, I wanted to create more impact in my home country. That's when I met the founders of Powercoders and was immediately impressed by their mission to provide IT training to individuals looking to build a career in the growing field, while also addressing the high demand for IT professionals. So I joined the team.
What is the mission of your organization and how do you work toward it?
At Powercoders, we support people with refugee or migrant backgrounds to start their IT careers in Switzerland. Our goal is to create equal access to opportunities for diverse talents in the IT industry. We achieve this through various programs such as our Bootcamp, which is a full-time program of 3 months, followed by an internship of 6-12 months in an IT team. In addition, we have recently expanded our offerings to include programs such as the IT Career Boost for experienced IT professionals, the AWS re/Start program which focuses on cloud computing, and Futurecoders, which offers web development and video game design courses to young people in Switzerland. Overall, we help empower individuals to succeed in the IT industry.
How does your nonprofit get support?
There are various ways in which our nonprofit organization receives support. Currently, our Bootcamp is self-funded. To make this possible, we work with companies who provide internship opportunities and also with social assistance organizations that financially support many of our candidates. We also rely on donations and funding from foundations and other donors to support our other programs. In addition, we rely on the support of volunteers and corporate partnerships to help us carry out our work. Without the help of these individuals and organizations, we would not be able to do what we do.
How do volunteers support your organization?
Our organization relies heavily on the support of volunteers who contribute their time and skills to help us achieve our mission. We have a range of volunteer roles available. For example, IT trainers are IT professionals who provide guidance and assistance during our Bootcamps, either remotely through Zoom or in person at our locations in Zurich, Bern, and Lausanne.
Job coaches volunteer longer-term, accompanying one of our candidates during their internship by meeting regularly with them, and also their internship company. Additionally, we have social and business skills trainers who offer workshops and training to our candidates based on their professional experience and expertise. We are very grateful for their time and support of these volunteers.
Maximizing the impact of corporate partnerships
What are the benefits of corporate partnerships?
Our corporate partners make it possible for our participants to start their IT career. We have more than 140 companies who offered an internship to one of our candidates – more than 50 of them offered more than one internship. UBS, Swisscom, IBM or SIX are among our corporate partners – to name only a few.
Besides providing internship and employment opportunities, companies are valuable volunteering partners for us.
Volunteering can have a powerful impact, not just in terms of the support it provides to our organization. Volunteering with our organization has served as a way for individuals to get to know us, build trust, and gain experience, which has led to advocacy within their own companies and the establishment of internships and other partnerships.
How do you attract volunteers for your nonprofit?
As our organization has been around for six years, we have since established a large network of volunteers, many of whom have supported us for an extended period. As we continue to expand and launch new offerings, we are always in need of additional volunteers to help us achieve our mission. We utilize platforms like Benevity to reach new volunteers and also rely on word of mouth and media coverage to attract individuals who are interested in supporting our work.
Our volunteers and alumni community play a crucial role in spreading the word about our organization and helping us to connect with new volunteers. Additionally, individuals may discover our organization through online searches, and this has also proven to be a valuable source of volunteer recruitment for us.
How many volunteers do you currently have supporting your nonprofit?
In 2022, we had around 150 volunteers who help our candidates depending on the skills required and the industry desired.
Do volunteers tend to return and volunteer frequently?
We tend to see volunteers signing up to support just on one day, and end up joining on a regular basis. For example, some of our IT trainers who started out as one-time volunteers have now taken on leadership roles and are leading focus tracks in our courses. In addition, our job coaches find the experience of working with one candidate to be rewarding and fulfilling, that they return as regular volunteers and work with additional candidates in the future. We’ve had over 35 job coaches who volunteered for a second or third time to accompany someone during their internship. Some of the volunteers even form friendships with candidates, as they work together they build strong relationships. They also stay in touch beyond Powercoders which is really special.
Connecting with dedicated volunteers on Benevity
What kind of volunteer opportunities do you post on Benevity?
We have multiple opportunities listed on Benevity varying based on the type of support and skills we require. The current opportunities we have available are:
- Become an IT trainer
- Become a job coach
- Mentor a job applicant
- Give a social & business skill workshop
- Donate to our cause
We are thrilled to be using Benevity because it is an effective way for us to reach highly-skilled and motivated volunteers, as the platform provides us the ability to reach corporations with employees possessing specific expertise required for our mentorship program, which is incredibly beneficial for us.
What’s the impact of receiving volunteers from Benevity?
Receiving volunteers on Benevity has a positive effect on our candidates. We regularly receive groups of volunteers to conduct mock interviews and provide individual feedback sessions. Our candidates benefit a lot from the practice as they feel much better prepared for their next interview and overall gain more confidence.
Candidates form special partnerships with volunteers, and this connection can have an even more significant impact beyond the actual volunteering as it is long-lasting.
What are the benefits of working with corporate volunteers on Benevity?
Benevity has been a valuable tool for finding corporate volunteers who have the specific IT skills we need to support our bootcamp. We are looking for individuals who fit specific profiles for volunteer opportunities and can help us build connections and open doors at their companies. Many of these volunteers also have large networks and have referred friends and colleagues to us, which has been extremely helpful. Overall, the platform has allowed us to effectively target and recruit our niche of corporate volunteers, which is vital to the success of our program.
How has Benevity helped you achieve your fundraising goals?
The donations allow us to accept participants who are not receiving social welfare and enable us to launch new trainings for refugees & migrants beyond our bootcamp.
Currently, we have an active fundraiser on Benevity. With 50 CHF, you sponsor lunch for five participants. With 100 CHF, you provide a one-day scholarship for one of our participants. And with 500 CHF, you sponsor an upcycled laptop for one of our participants. We were able to collect several thousand Swiss Francs in donations already – and are grateful for further contributions.
What would you say to other nonprofits looking for support?
I highly recommend Benevity to other nonprofits seeking to increase their impact. Being on the platform has been a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our reach and connect with dedicated volunteers who are eager to contribute their time and skills. If you're a nonprofit looking for reliable, committed volunteers, I recommend listing your volunteer opportunities on Benevity.
Connect with volunteers through Benevity
Benevity enables nonprofits like yours to connect with a community of passionate volunteers and access resources to help you achieve your mission (for free). Here are some examples of volunteer opportunities your organization can list on the platform:
• Field-volunteering: Connect with a vibrant pool of field volunteers ready to provide hands-on support for your initiatives, from cleanups and meal preparation to farm work.
• Skills-based volunteering: Access a network of skilled professionals offering pro-bono expertise in fields such as translation, marketing, and web design, including virtual volunteers.
• Goods donation: receive items such as IT equipment, canned food, and clothing.
• Monetary donations: raise funds for your cause through global monetary donations.
Join the Benevity network today by simply submitting your volunteer needs using the form below: