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Strategic volunteering: a smart route to return to work

Last week saw Charterpath’s first event with Women Returners - an amazing organisation which supports people back into the work place after career breaks (for any variety of reasons). They have over 8,000 members – a massive number, but only a fraction of the estimated 427,000 women currently on long-term break.

The webinar was focused on Strategic Volunteering – how it can be a smart route to return to work after a career break.

The session started with an introduction from Anghard Boyson from Women Returners setting out the common obstacles people encounter when looking to return to work – in particular feeling out of touch and rusty in their knowledge and skills. There is often a loss of confidence and a sense of imposter syndrome. To add to this, when returning after a long break there may be uncertainty about committing to a full-time role and the challenge of finding a role with sufficient flexibility until you are clear on how much time you have to give. A lot of these challenges lead to people taking on a role they are overqualified for and then when they get up to speed quicker than they expect, they realise they have sold themselves short and set-back their career quite significantly.

Alice Clementi, Charterpath’s co-founder then explained how skills-based volunteering can serve as a great way of restarting your career after a break.

  1. It is a good way to refresh your skills – reconnecting with the dynamics of a workplace, structured meetings, timetables and deadlines. It is a chance to practice your expertise in a relatively safe space where any time you can give will be appreciated. You are also likely to learn new skills maybe by helping out with activities which you wouldn’t normally do. This works particularly well for someone considering a career change.

  2. Volunteering tends to have flexible working patterns. Whilst there may be a fixed timetables of meetings eg once a month / quarter, you can structure your time around this as you wish. This can be a great way to get started when unsure how much time you will have available, or to fit in work around your own timetable.

  3. It is a chance to grow your network – you are likely to meet some fascinating people through volunteering that might end up being friends, mentors, mentees or anything in between. Whether you’re interested in finding a new job or starting a new career – talking to other professionals about it can be incredibly useful!

  4. It is a chance to enhance your CV and build confidence. It is a great way to show you are currently ‘in work’, have some current and relevant experience. Employers recognise volunteers as committed, passionate people who are often ‘self-starters’. In terms of confidence, volunteering is a great way to find your groove – to remind yourself of those things that you do well and to get some appreciation from others.

  5. Regaining your sense of purpose and identity. It is not to say that you don’t have an identify without some form of work, but having something beyond our home commitments help to give us a different perspective, knowing you are part of something greater. Volunteering is a proven way to improve your self-esteem and mental health.

Alice highlighted the current crisis facing the non-profit sector with reduced income (from donations and grants) and a reduction in volunteers, at a time when the cost-of-living crisis has seen demand for services rocketing. The sector is also urgently seeking to improve its diversity of volunteers. Small charities tend to have very small teams with individuals running a number of different functions. Professionals often under-estimate the value that they can add to a non-profit by sharing their expertise and their time.

Alice and Angharad finished by discussing how to find a skills-based volunteering role – understanding the different opportunities and time commitments, finding a cause you feel passionate about and ensuring you will have the right support as a volunteer – both from the charity and on the personal side, at home! It is important to do your homework and find the right role, not to rush into the first opportunity. They advertised the Opportunities and Resources page offered by Charterpath and the wide range of support services offered by Women Returners.

There were some great questions about how to reflect both a career break and volunteering on your CV and your LinkedIn profile….with clear advice not to hide it away… a blog to follow on that topic!

It was wonderful to see the positive feedback afterwards with over 80% of attendees saying they were motivated to volunteer their skills after the session. We look forward to hosting another session with Women Returners later in the year!


If the idea of volunteering your skills with a non-profit has caught your imagination - follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Follow Charterpath on LinkedIn for all the latest news, inspiration, and roles

  2. Have a look around our website at for case studies, helpful resources, and live volunteer opportunities

  3. Sign the Charterpath pledge to show your support for our mission and volunteer your skills for at least 2 days each year

About Charterpath

Alice Clementi and Alex Marsh co-founded Charterpath as a community interest company in 2020, with a mission to increase the proportion of accountants volunteering from 10% to 50% - inspiring more accountants to volunteer their time and expertise, connecting them with non-profit opportunities, and engaging with a wide range of organisations so volunteering is a core part of an accountant’s career. For more information, visit


A special offer for Charterpath volunteers: get a 50% discount to Women Returners' upcoming conference with the code 'Charterpath23' (full price tickets £25)

Back to Your Future - Annual Conference 2023

Are you a professional woman wanting to kick-start or accelerate your return to work after a long career break? Women Returner’s flagship Back to Your Future Conference on 10 and 11 May 2023 is what you need! It’s a fully interactive online event packed with the advice, inspiration, tools, and connections you need to get you back to a rewarding role. Full details here.

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